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Events & Exhibitions
50th anniversary of the
Carrera Panamericana

Special event May 6th, 2000
at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles
50th Anniversary of the Carrera Panamericana at the Petersen Automotive Museum

50th Anniversary of the Carrera Panamericana at the Petersen Automotive Museum
50th Anniversary of the Carrera Panamericana
Carrera Panamericana - Ferrari 212 Export Vignale
Ferrari 212 Export LWB Vignale
participated in 1951 (#9)

In 1950 the Mexican Government scheduled a six-day, border-to-border race in order to celebrate the completion of Mexico's portion of the Panamerican Highway - the Carrera Panamericana was inaugurated.

The start was in Juarez and the race continued six days and 2,096 miles southbound until the finish line in El Ocotal.

The winner of the first Carrera Panamericana was Hershel McGriff of Portland, Oregon in his 1950 Oldsmobile 88, seen here on stage at the Petersen Museum after 50 years.

Carrera Panamericana - Hershel McGriff

The race evolved over the years into an important event of international scope. The races '51 to '54 started in Tuxtla Gutierrez, lasted 5 days and took the same route north, finishing in Juarez.

In the beginning, most of the participating cars have been sedans of american origin and there has been just one 'open' class. Lincoln was one of the dominating marques. Sports cars remained an exception until the following races.

After the first race in 1950, the Carrera Panamericana earned an immediate reputation as one of the most demanding, difficult and dangerous road races in the entire world. The years '51 to '54 lured factory teams and famous drivers from all around the world.

Carrera Panamericana - Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
participated in 1952 (#6),
behind the replica of the 'Caballo de Hiero' (#11)
Carrera Panamericana - Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Berlinetta
Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Berlinetta
participated in 1952 (#4) with Driver Phil Hill

Ak Miller and his Caballo de Hiero became the favorites of the spectators during the '53 and '54 races.

Carrera Panamericana - Ak Miller

In 1952 the Carrera Panamericana saw the introduction of two categories - Sports Cars and Stock Cars. In 1953 these categories were divided again into Large and Small, for a total of now 4 categories to accommodate the huge number of participants and the different breed of cars within the race.

Carrera Panamericana - Phil Hill

Phil Hill, who participated in the Carrera Panamericana in '52, '53 and '54 on Ferrari, being interviewed on the stage at the Petersen Museum.

Mercedes-Benz entered Karl Kling on one of the three 300 SL, who won the Sports Car category in 1952.

Lancia entered Juan Manuel Fangio on a D 24 who won the Large Sports Car category in 1953.

Porsche entered Jose Herrate on a 550 Spyder and won the Small Sports Car category the same year.

Carrera Panamericana - 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder and 1954 Lincol
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder in the foreground and 1954 Lincoln in the background, which participated in 1954 (#103)
Carrera Panamericana - Ferrari 375 MM Vignale Spyder
Ferrari 375 MM Vignale Spyder
second place in 1953 (#20) with Driver Phil Hill

Ferrari won twice - in 1951 with Piero Taruffi on a 212 Export and in 1954 with Umberto Maglioli on a Ferrari 375 in the Large Sports Car category.

Carroll Shelby with his wife Cleo at the Petersen Automotive Museum. He participated in the '53 race on an Austin-Healey. As one of the many 'victims' of the Carrera Panamericana, he ended up with a broken arm.

Carrera Panamericana - Carroll Shelby

After the '54 race, the era of the Carrera Panamericana came to a an end. Because of the high number of spectator and driver injuries and fatalities, the Mexican Government canceled the following races. In the five years of its existence, the Carrera Panamericana attracted over 2 million spectators, more than any other Motor sport event in the world.

For more Ferrari participating in the Carrera Panamericana please see our review of the
Inaugural Concours d'Elegance 2001, Palos Verdes
featuring Ferrari.

Map to the Petersen

The Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at the corner of Fairfax Avenue) in the historic Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, on Museum Row. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is closed Mondays.

Admission prices for the Museum are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students with ID, and $3 for children ages five to 12. Museum members and children under five are admitted free. Special group rates are available. Unlimited museum parking is available for $6. For general Museum information call (323) 930-CARS.

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