Jaguar Goes En Fuego (Or What’s That Burning Smell Coming From La Carrera Panamericana?)

October 30, 2008

Joel Eisenberg submitted this update from the final day of La Carrera Panamericana 2008:

The last two speed sessions were on the freeway. We got the old Jag up to 202 kph (about 125mph.) The engine started smoking then Marcia noticed flames.

I stopped the car, pulled the fire suppression system, turned off the master electrical killl switch, and bailed out. I simply don’t know how I got out so fast with the cast on, but since my left leg was exposed I had to in order to prevent any burns. (I had to cut the fire suit open for the cast to fit, and the zipper I installed broke the first day.)

The Fedrales came and help arrived. We had a drink and sandwich and everyone left. Marcia and I were congratulating ourselves at the side of freeway when the car burst into flames again!!! I grabbed the portable extinguisher, but that didn’t work. We tried PowerAid, Zevia, Fiji Water…still going. Finally friends stopped on the course with a big fire extinguisher. We opened hood and found the brake fluid resovoir from the first day had leaked again — PLUS the fix for the bad master switch had been to bypass it, so the electricity was still on and arcing. We had to disconnect battery, which finally stopped the carnage.

Everyone has now left and I’m sitting here waiting for the transporter and lots of tequila.


Team Gringo Loco Moves Up In La Carrera Panamericana

October 29, 2008

Joel Eisenberg and Marcia McCraw (who was endorsed by the Seattle Times for Lt. Governor in next week’s election while riding shotgun in the Jaguar XKE) started the day in 84th place. Now sitting in 57th place, Joel and Marcia filed this report to The Four Wheel Drift this morning.

We have moved up to 57 overall! Nine out of twelve are still running in our class with two more days of racing.

At last night’s banquet we all saw a video of Stewart and Linda’s crash yesterday. Amazing! (I’m sure you will see it all over YouTube.) There was a straightaway followed by a crest with a hard steep downhill turn and a narrow bridge, which made it all very dangerous and tricky. A Ford crashed then Stewart and Linda in the Studebaker came over crest and spun. After Stewart got out, but before linda could, another car lost it and landed on top of him! Everyone is okay except Linda has a compressed disc in her back.

We think Stewart will be looking for a new car and co-driver.

Another Crash on the La Carrera Panamericana

October 28, 2008

Jaguar driver Joel Eisenberg reports that car number 120, the Studebaker of Stewart and Linda Robertson competing in the Turismo Mayor class has had a race-ending crash.  The Studebaker was running 21st overall when it happened.  Reports are that there are no serious injuries, but that Linda Robertson was taken to a local hospital to be checked-out.

Update Numero Tres Of Dos People In Uno Jaguar Racing In the La Carrera Panamericana

October 28, 2008

Joel Eisenberg submitted this exclusive update from the Carrera at 7:45pm last night to The Four Wheel Drift:

 The 4th day was magic we finished all legs and are celebrating.  I don’t think our times were that good as it rained and we had no wipers.  Only one close call, which happened just as we took the checkered flag in the first speed section: a burro wandered into the road before we could slow down. He was one lucky burro as we just missed him.

We had another burro issue on the next to last speed section.  We were off the start and just as we hit the red line in first gear out wandered another burro.  I had to hit the brakes hard to let him pass.

The bad luck today was that Jake and Matt rolled their Studebaker. We’re in the same support group — on the car hauler the Studebakers and the Jag.   John and Chris were with us in the Chihuahua. Their two sons who are in their 20s and john spent most of the last year building the car for the Carrera. It’s -totaled-! They just went too fast on the last speed section today.

It turns out the problem the last two days was a defective master electrical kill switch. All of the original Lucas shit has been replaced but the Lucas gremlin remains! Hopefully well have Rain-X tomorrow.

Adding to the comic aspect is that the toe guard on my foot cast got tangled in the clutch. So now my cast and toe guard are duct taped up!

La Carrera Panamericana Update — Part Dos

October 27, 2008

The La Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico is notorious for bringing cars to their knees (or maybe “knee action” would be a more appropriate automotive expression.) The 1964 Jaguar XKE team of Joel Eisenberg and Marcia (candidate for Washington Lt. Governor) McCraw is finding this out first-hand.

Joel filed this report Sunday night to The Four Wheel Drift:

Friday: What we first though was a coolant leak turned out to be brake fluid — misting us while we drove. With tne brake problem we did not arrive until 11 pm — but did so under our own power.

Saturday: After the first speed stage the Lucas gremlin got us and we had to be trucked to Mexico City.

Sunday: Today we started with high hopes and a new alternator. The first speed stage was awesome –on the loop freeway around Mexico City. First time they have ever closed the highway for racing. Then through a town with crowds everywhere (arch and platform for viewing). We lost all electrical! The most exciting (frightening) part– as the semi cabin had no space for us, we rode in the Jag fastened to the top of the car hauler rattling ‘n’ rolling in fear of low bridges reading an email of the Seattle Times expose of the incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Owen laughing hysterically.

If Marcia wins we can hope she solves some of the Seattle traffic problems by closing the roads for road racing.

Some of the guys talked us into the Mille Migla Rally in Italy this May before the Cannes film festival.

Before people start questioning Joel’s sanity for taking a Jaguar, a marque known to be one step below home-made trailers in electrical system quality, on a challenging rally, it really isn’t the fault of Jaguar or Lucas. First, the Jaguar is heavily modified, so he’s not dealing with a stock electrical system. Second, horrible electrical and mechanical breakdowns are simply a part of rallying. Dirt, radical vibrations and severe loads often make Porsche, Lexus or Mercedes look like they were built under the hands of the Prince of Darkness!

But Joel describes the great craziness of racing: no matter how frustrating it can be when the car keeps failing, the experiences of competition and adventure far outweigh any desire to quit. In the worlds of vintage auto racing and rallying, hope springs eternal — and there’s always another event!

Exclusive Updates From La Carrera Panamericana 2008

October 24, 2008

The La Carrera Panamericana is one of the world’s great historical rallies. Based on the original Mexican road races of the 1950s, which saw guys like Herschel McGriff and John Fitch fly through Mexican villages in cars ranging from Mercedes SLs and Ferraris to Porsche 550s and Lincoln Capris, the modern event takes a similar flair for the dangerous and crazy.

The Four Wheel Drift is actually receiving constant updates during the seven day rally from the team of Joel Eisenberg (pilot) and navigator Marcia McCraw. This is the same Marcia McCraw who is the Republican candidate (yet is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-medical pot, and obviously, pro-sports car) for Washington State’s Lt. Governor position in the upcoming election!!! The Eisenberg/McCraw team is running a 1964 Jaguar E-Type coupe. If the normal course through choppy, winding roads isn’t tough enough, Eisenberg is running the entire race with a walking cast on his clutch foot.

And with all due respect to Mr. Eisenberg…I’ve known him for nearly 38 years, and he’s a scary enough driver with all his hands and feet in perfect working order!

So how is team Hobble and Lt. Gov doing? You can get real-time GPS information ( Panamericana link, and enter car no 349), plus here are exclusive updates from the driver:

}}}Wednesday 3:20PM: We left this morning for Mexico. We’ll be driving a grueling 7-day race, starting Saturday, going from near Mexico’s southern border to the Texas border. There will be over 100 cars starting at 30 sec intervals. Usually, only about half the cars finish. I’ll be driving with my left foot in a cast and Marcia will be navigating. We’ll be driving the same 1964 E Jaguar that I drove in the Chihuahua Express in March. The rally/race takes place on public highways. There are long sections with unlimited high speeds on which the roads have been closed to all traffic, followed by timed sections as we transit cities and towns where there is other traffic on the roads

Some friends will probably join us en route to watch, cheer, and participate in the daily after-race fiestas. You can follow the race at this website:

I understand that there will be GPS units attached to each car so that you can see on the Internet where every car is, their speed, etc. We have a video camera installed and will try to send raw footage each evening to Sam Barer who will post our progress on his blog. To follow our progress either go to the above PanAmericana site or to

Hopefully, we will be able to attract some attention to Marcia’s Lt. Gov campaign as she would like to see the state play host to similar road races and Grand Prix races while her opponent is a lobbyist for interests trying to get multimillions of public funds for a NASCAR track that has been voted down twice by the legislature.

7:25AM Thursday: Carrera is off to a good start. Wednesday Mexicana lost our reservation our bags went to Tuxla we got stuck in Mex city. Stood by 4 6 30 am over booked flight.

Survived medical with cast. Didn’t have to have it cut off. On the Speed Trial, the Odometer failed, we got lost and missed 6 km speed section. Now in drivers meeting Been up since 4:30 am. We need sleep!!!

7PM Thursday: 103 cars starting, and typically we lose almost half. Wish us luck
We. No 349. Historic B class.

Today there was much construction in transit stages Weather warm car very hot Hopefully cooling suit will work tomorrow.

5AM Friday: Diagnosis. Coolant overflow tube split still waiting 4 assistance!

7:30AM Friday: First breakdown enroute to start! We have an oil leak. Smoke all over!!!
I must learn to disconnect cooling vest before bailing out. Waiting for mechanic.
Amazing how fast we can bailout even with the cast.

GM Plans To Sell ACDelco, Buy Chrysler, Sell Viper

October 22, 2008

Today General Motors confirmed it is shopping around its ACDelco aftermarket parts division. According to GM, the move is just one of many it hopes to do to bolster liquidity.

The interesting twist is that if GM indeed buys Chrysler, they will get the Mopar parts division. Mopar’s high positive name recognition makes the century-old ACDelco operation more expendable.

GM also is desperately looking for anyone to take Hummer, which is less buoyant right now than a cinderblock wrapped in a dirty steel diaper. They’d like to dump Saab, too.

And while GM has not confirmed it, the going rumor is that if the buyout of Chrysler is green-lighted, the Viper brand and production will be sold outright…most likely to Ford. While it is not unheard of for a single model approaching the axe to be sold to a private investor in the interest of carrying it on, such as the Lotus/Caterham Seven and Studebaker Avanti, it is rather unheard of for a single halo model of a large automotive going concern (if you can call Chrysler/Dodge a going concern right now) to be sold to a competitor.

In actuality, the move would make sense. GM has a long history of preventing its many divisions from “competing” against the Corvette. The closest competitors from within GM have come in the forms of the (faster and equally luxurious) ’77 and ’78 T/A 6.6 Trans Ams and the more recent Cadillac XLR and XLR-V. (The Caddies, though, were targeted at the Mercedes SL.) GM has little to gain by keeping the Viper.

On the other hand, with its GT halo gone, Ford could use a new high-end sports car. The market has always resisted putting Mustang in the same group as Corvette and Porsche, so having the Viper would help. Most importantly, since the Viper loses more money than a convention attendee in a Vegas card room, the product fits perfectly in Ford’s backwards business model.