The road race that led to Porsche’s ‘Carrera’ nameplate is as grueling as you imagine

Most of us probably aren’t up to snuff to complete a 2,000-mile-long road race. Heck, some of us likely have difficulty during long stretches of comfortable, well-paved freeway driving.

Thankfully, there are people in the world who document the hardships many of us likely will never face. That includes the lost and dangerous tradition of road races from yesteryear.

The documentary “The Last Great Road Race” takes viewers on a journey across Mexico for a running of La Carrera Panamericana—in a period correct 1962 Porsche 356B.

The road race was created in the 1950s by the Mexican government, which sought to celebrate the opening of the Pan-American Highway. But as driver and spectator death tolls rose considerably, the race was cancelled after just four years. As the story goes, the historic race earned enough recognition and bravado to birth the Carrera name that Porsche still brands its cars with to this day.

What many consider the last great road race was brought back to life in the 1980s, and our protagonists from Benton Performance’s Carrera Panamericana revival campaign take us through the unpredictable journey through the road race.

It’s certainly not as dangerous as when first conceived, but the revival of La Carrera Panamericana likely sits as one of the more dangerous events still run in our time. Competitors must ensure their cars are fully equipped with proper safety systems, including a roll cage, race harnesses, fire suppression systems, and fuel cells.

It’s not a race for cash, prizes, or anything of the like. Those who simply finish in one piece are recognized and earn valuable bragging rights as capable, disciplined drivers.

–Sean Szymkowski

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