We arrived in Tuxla Gutierrez Chiapas, and had a few days to settle down, organize our tools and support trucks and to get the race cars through tech inspection. My involvement was to be crew chief of Mark Colbert’s #284 65′ Alfa Romeo Giulia and about Mark’s car: It is a gorgeous 1965 TI built by Champion Motorsport of Pompano Beach, Florida. The builders did a wonderful job with this car, it is black inside and out and has been restored to a very high level. Mark Colbert likes clean cars and this one is no exception being built from the ground up in full race/rally specifications. Seam welded chassis, gorgeous overbuilt roll cage, full rally time-keeping equipment, Tillett carbon fiber seats, panhard bar, fully built motor, AP brake system, and race suspension throughout. Everything about the car is race car, ok you get the point. Needless to say, the car came to me ready for competition so it needed only one thing, testing and driving. Mark drove the car a few hundred miles and I drove it 20 miles while we were still in Sonoma, I spent a day or two just getting to know the car in detail and doing some minor suspension adjustments/final preparation/torque striping at Competition Touring Cars Sonoma and I had a lot of confidence in the car, especially in Mark’s capable driving hands. He was driving his wife Debbie in the Carrera as his “Co-pilota” and this absolutely raises the stakes when it comes to safety and safety checks so I made safety checks my top priority as always.
Going on, Friday qualifying took place in Chiapas on a stage from downtown Chiapas to beautiful San Cristobal. It was a very curvy and steep uphill stage. Mark and Debbie, departed and I took the service route in the support vehicle to meet at finish line and do a quick post-run service. Mark did great on this first run and it was the first real action the car had seen. After this the car returned to central Chiapas for what would become a nightly ritual-full inspection, service and tune. Car checked out fine and we were ready for the first race stage Saturday 7AM.
It is hard to keep this race blog solely about the race when visiting Mexico and San Cristobal was one of the places where I had my first sobering moment after meeting a couple of tiny kids who where working with their mother on the street selling food. Seeing this level of poverty and struggle while parading through this historic town in fancy race cars reminds me how absolutely lucky I am and reminds me to never take anything for granted, Of course I did my best to give money and spend with those who I knew need it the most but it will never be enough and this stayed with me everyday through the rest of the trip.
Saturday morning, the crew was up at 530 for a quick coffee and breakfast and off to the pits for some car warm up and driver prep. Our trucks were loaded and ready for the chase over the mountains to Oaxaca.