Carrera Panamericana: the Mexican Road Race. In its day it was the longest, fastest and likely wildest international automobile race ever staged. A World Championship event along with Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, Nüburgring and the Tourist Trophy, most drivers considered it the best-and the worst-of them all. From 1950 to 1954, it was witnessed by ten million spectators along a nearly 2,000-mile course that featured deserts where the faster cars could reach 180 mph and 10,000-foot mountain passes requiring first-gear operation. Carrera Panamericana influenced engineering and marketing from Michigan to Modena. Ferrari designed and named a model specifically for the race. Lincoln emerged as a high-performance sedan and Porsche's Carrera was named in honor of its wins. The Pan-Am was so unconventional and fascinating that it came to hold the world's attention for a full week each year. It was one of the last of the great open road events and the first in which European and American cars could be compared and marked the return of US factory support to racing in America.
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