The last Race of the
Gold Time in 1954

The event of 1954 would be the last event of the golden age of “La Carrera Panamericana”, at least for the next 34 years until the promoter of motorsport events, Eduardo de León, revived it.

During the fifth Pan American Race of 1954, the categories that contended were five: Sport Major, Sport Minor, Tourism Major, Special Tourism and European Tourism, with which it was possible to participate with cars that were not of the standard type since in certain categories they were allowed modifications to the automobile. The race began, as was the custom, on November 19, 1954 in Chiapas and ended on the 23rd of that same month and year in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

That year of ’54 Ferrari cars with particular feature with the pilot Maglioli, absolute winner with a total time of 17 hours 40 seconds. Equally outstanding was the participation of Mexican drivers in the categories of Alvarez Tostado (4th place in the Special Tourism category and 29th in the General Category); Ramiro Aguilar (5th place in the TE category and 35th place in the CG).

For his part Moisés Solana, the youngest driver of the race with 18 years of age, was considered the pilot revelation of the race, as well as having dealt with his first foray into sports motorsport, and despite a loss of thirty minutes due to mechanical failures, he managed to occupy 6th place in the TE category and 32nd place in the CG; who at the wheel of a Dodge with 50,000 kilometers traveled, was disputed with memorable grabs on the asphalt with the Italian Piero Taruffi and the Argentine Oscar Cabalén.

The individual entries made up most of the participants, decreasing the registration of official teams of the brands of the cars. The main reason was that the Constructors’ World Championship was already defined and no result obtained in the Race would modify them, so some teams did not consider it necessary to come to Mexico. That year Ferrari would win the title again, Lancia the second position and Jaguar the third.

149 cars were registered in this fifth edition of the event: 20 in Sport Major, 13 in Sport Menor, 29 in Open Tourism, 68 in Special Tourism and 19 in European Tourism.

The list of competitors became increasingly international with participants from many countries, some came with the intention of winning and others simply to live the adventure offered by the Race.

There were 45 teams from Mexico, 42 from Argentina, 31 from the USA, 7 from Italy, 6 from Germany, 4 from Guatemala, 2 from the United Kingdom, 2 from Spain, 2 from the Dominican Republic, 1 from France, 1 from Colombia, 1 from Cuba and 1 from Chile.

The main changes in the regulation of that year referred to the categories and to the time allowed to carry out maintenance and repairs to the car. The European Tourism category was also added.

The regulation established that the time allowed to work in the cars was reduced to only one hour at the end of the day in Oaxaca, Durango and Chihuahua; and two hours in Mexico City. This rule only applied to cars in the Tourism categories. Sports cars could receive attention all day and night if necessary.

Volkswagen also sent a team of sedans (vochos) to participate. Obviously they did not go with the intention of winning, but to demonstrate their superiority in design, durability and reliability.

The two Ferraris that Maglioli and McAfee were to drive were the most powerful cars that Enzo Ferrari had ever designed.

These vehicles could generate 350 horsepower and reach a top speed of 175 mph (281.6 kmph), as they also came from a triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans rally.

Another car that caught the attention of the fans was the sports car designed and built in Spain, the Pegaso Z103 Roadster driven by Joaquin Palacio. This car was sponsored by the Dominican President, General Rafael Trujillo and he had painted on his chest the name of the car El Dominicano.

Coca Cola sponsored the Mexican team consisting of five Buick Century cars painted white with the logo of the refresher brand in a very visible way. These were driven by five Mexican drivers, Luís Leal Solares, Fernando Razo Maciel, Ricardo Ramírez, Héctor Riva Palassio and Julio Mariscal.

The reputation of Maglioli and Hill was consolidated within the sports motorsport for many more years. Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Volkswagen were the true winners in the event as they took advantage of the visibility offered by this race. The reputation of the Borgward cars dropped significantly due to poor results. Lincoln was barely saved thanks to Ray Crawford’s final victory.

Copyright ©: Peterbook 2002

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