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La Carrera PanAmericana

Carrera Pan America Race Story in Texas Driver Magazine

Click on the magazine cover for an Adobe Reader .pdf file about the latest news about the
"Race Through Mexico"
from Texas Driver Magazine

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Turning Wheels Magazine Article

If you don't have Adobe Reader please click here to download it

Gentry Zentmeyer and Chip Brunner are currently building a 1953 Studebaker for the La Carrera Panamerican race. Photos of the rebuild are below this article.

In the Panamericana race they are referred to as Team Two. This partnership was born of a special, focused desire, the desire to experience a legend, a dream, to pilot a car worthy of the grueling Mexican La Carerra Panamericana race.

The event was originally run from 1951 through 1954, but was cancelled after too many drivers and spectators were killed. Many of the world's famous drivers have tested their cars, skills and stamina in the La Carrera. Studebaker cars entered in races during the '51 through '54 period in the later races can be proud of their records.

The race was reorganized about ten years ago and is designed for cars made prior to 1954 only. Since the area of Mexico where the race is run hasn't changed very much in the last fifty years, driving a 1953 Studebaker on the course will be like going back in time, (especially for Team Two members, as none of them were born in the '50's!)

The race starts in Tuxtla Guiterrez in the south of Mexico, (about 1200 miles south of Laredo, TX), then north almost 2000 miles including some of the most dangerous roads in Mexico, to the finish at Nuevo Laredo. Most of the corners on these mountain roads have no guardrails, even the steepest passages are un protected. Team Two joked that, "We plan to paint the underside of the car orange so they can find us!".

Gentry and Chip live, and are businessmen, in Martinsville, Virginia. Gentry owns and operates "AutoInstruments Corp.", where he rebuilds and restores instruments for antique and classic cars. Chip owns numerous Subway franchises.

In addition, Team Two has two more primary members, Don Zentmeyer of Tampa, Florida and Shaun Tweed of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Team Two members are no strangers to cars and racing. They have a long history of building hot rods and racing. Chip built and raced a '73 Datsun 510, (Yep, that's right, but I couldn't do justice to the story, you have to ask Chip about his "'73" yourself). Gentry's focus was on building and racing Porsches for a while, and he's been at all the greats, Sebring, Daytona, Watkins Glen.

The focus of Team Two is now on a Studebaker, a 1953 Studebaker to be exact. They decided that the power to weight ratio and rugged reliability of their Studebaker was just what the doctor ordered for the attack on the La Carrerra Panamericanna. In addition, Team Two expects to have their Studebaker blazing across the salts of Bonneville in 2005! Yep, talk about a busy race team huh? But chat with these guys for two minutes and you know that they're deadly serious. We will all be able to see the car up close as it will be finished and on display at SDC headquarters in Charlotte during the National meet.

The car is being prepared now, in fact, it's been proudly sponsored by the following individuals and businesses, Dave Thibeault, (racing engine), Dave Levesque, (brakes), Ted Harbit, Studebaker Parts.com, Studebaker International, SASCO, Studebakers West, Bob Helm Studebaker Parts (wheels), Phantom Auto Works, Paul Wichterman, and AutoInstruments Corp.

I should mention that Team Two would be VERY happy to accept any/all help and/or sponsorship they can get. Putting together a car capable enough to compete in the Panamericana and then Bonneville is an awesome undertaking, not to mention the support it will require. If you can help Team Two in any way, please contact Gentry directly at his business, AutoInstruments Corp.

You'll find pictures of the preparation of the car a little farther below, and what a beauty! It's being prepared for the Original Pan Am Stock class. According to Gentry, that "keeps the rules simple and relatively safe." Cars in this class must have engines and transmissions from the original manufacturer and must be basically stock. "Period" speed equipment is allowed, but things like aluminum heads and 5-speed transmissions are strictly a no-no.

As can be seen by the pictures, it has a roll bar but it's basically still a stock 1953 Studebaker. Carburetor tuning and jetting is of significant importance because of the altitudes the car will be operating in. The Dave Thibeault supplied racing engine has approximately a 10.5:1 compression ratio, although some competitors build engines with 13:1 for power in the thin air. Team Two expects that their engine will be performing as though it has about an 8.75:1 ratio in the high mountains.

Follow along with the build, but please note, these pictures are large, but you get great detail of the car and components. If you have a slow dial-up connection they might take a bit to download...........

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Read about Gentry Zentmeyer's PanAmericana Race from Southern Mexico to the Border of Texas with Chip Brunner in a 1953 Starlight Coupe-YeeHaw!!!

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Panamericana1
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