Beyond La Pana

Sandra Hernández

La Carrera Panamericana, the famous Mexican international car rally, is an event that doesn’t need further explanation. From Veracruz to Durango, this 3200 kilometer race is a competition that has gathered all kinds of celebrities and accumulated lots of anecdotes, recently celebrating its 35th anniversary.

It is one of the most famous automobile competitions in the world. Its history is divided into two stages: the first between 1950 and 1954, and the second begins in 1988. It has featured celebrities such as David Gilmour and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd who participated in 1989, Emerson Fittipaldi, who was a special guest in 2020, and recently the actor Patrick Dempsey, who ran the 2023 edition, just to name a few. The magic of this race is that it takes place on the roads of Mexico crossing all kinds of climates and ecosystems in seven days of competition. Each stage culminates in a different city and the competitors’ arrivals take place in the historic sites of each of them where thousands of fans gather to see the contingent arrive. 

To believe that this race is only about speed and adrenaline, about the imposing Porsches, Studebakers, Buicks or Mustangs or about grinding on the asphalt and deadly curves is to miss what this event is really about. Because beyond all that are the routes that cross this country and that take us between valleys and mountains from the sea to the forest; from the forest to the desert, and that reveal paths that mist during dawn, cities where the chimes of the churches resound among hills, or magical villages of colorful porches where life is a feast. This is also La Pana.

But La Pana is, mainly, its people. And this project is dedicated precisely to all those people who look forward year after year to the arrival of the drivers and receive them warmly, as if it were the first time.

Why it’s Worthwhile?

In this time when Mexico is fractured and full of negative news, documenting La Carrera Panamericana has become for me a window to another face of my country that gives me hope. As a Mexican, I am convinced that this is the kind of story that the world must know to have a more objective vision of my country because stories of joy and camaraderie also happen in it. For me, it is important —and necessary— to show the bright side of the country where I live.