Austin A35, La Cucaracha
The Cucaracha outside a cathedral in Mexico; note the Mayan markings on the pillars – they’re just hedging their bets!

The organisers were not pleased at all, they thought I was taking the mickey and they wouldn’t speak to me.

1993 Carerra Panamerica

Alastair takes the newly named Cucaracha to the Carerra Panamerica.

For a laugh I decided do the Carrera Panamerica with a totally unsuitable vehicle. It’s a high-speed stage-rally with crash helmets and guys racing million-dollar cars. They really spent big.

I entered La Cucaracha. I’d been in the rally the year before and done quite well. The car broke and I dropped out for a couple of days, but before it broke I was sixth overall so they thought that I was a serious contender. They didn’t know what an Austin A35 was ‘but it must be quicker than an AC Aceca,’ so they seeded it number 3.

Instead of turning up the week before to settle in and drive the first four stages I just turned up on the morning of the rally . Nobody had seen me before and the organisers didn’t even think I was coming. I turned up and they were all servicing their cars and there was no space for me, but the top team with Roger Ward managed to make some space for me. There was huge excitement and amusement over my car as it sat alongside their million-dollar cars. They worked out that my engine was as big as one of their cylinders.

The organisers were not pleased at all, they thought I was taking the mickey and they wouldn’t speak to me. But I started third and the crowd cheered as soon as they saw the car, which was an instant hit.

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