Oh about mid-50's there was an international car race that
ran from Caracas to Maracaibo and back. Remember!! The race
was highly reported in the papers and was the subject of a
great deal of discussion.
The race begins: There were about twenty
or so cars in the race as it left Caracas including one American
entry, a Cadillac sedan. You have to visualize that there
were no major highways from Caracas to Maracaibo and no bridge
over the lake. Carretera Nacional between Palmarejo and Lagunillas
was virtually a 1½ lane oil/sand road which was seriously
rutted and humped to cause rain water runoff during the rainy
season. In the race are some well known Italian Drivers who
spoke no Spanish.
The cars pass Tia Juana: I and all
my friends and every Venezuelan who had the ability to get
to Tia Juana lined the road and climbed the fences to watch
the cars. There was whooping and hollering as the drivers
approached and the crowed surged forward to watch the cars
pass. I recall there being just enough room between the spectators
and the cars as they zoomed past to pass a coconut. They were
gone and they take the Ferry at Palmarejo to Maracaibo where
they rest, drink and get ready to return.
The cars return: It had just finished
raining and the roads were very slick. More excitement this
time and I and my friends were hanging onto the barbed-wire
topped fence behind the country club and here they come and
an Italian driver in a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing loses control
whips sideways and plows through the fence and ends up ass-end
in the drainage ditch beside the road. Nobody hurt. The driver
whips up the gull-wing door and steps out, surveys the car
and damage and climbs up onto the road and hitches a ride
from one of his compadres who was behind him in the race and
disappears into the distance.
Pandemonium: What next.
Well there sits a brand new Mercedes 300SL Gullwing racing
car with nobody watching it and I think this goes through
the mind of the gringos and Venezuelans who stood around the
car and what began was the systematic dismantling and destruction
of the car without tools. If you have watched the National
Geographic TV programs about the lions feeding after a kill
you will have a good visual of the situation.
Reflections: Once the stripping of
the car began it became evident to the Venezuelans that they
greatly outnumbered the gringos and that is where I first
heard the word "sansabiche" applied to us by the
Venezuelans who must have been caddies. Well, yours truly
and his compadres quickly vacated the vicinity and watched
from afar much as hyenas do when the lions are at a carcass
and then returned to the wreck afterward looking for a bit
of souvenir. Nothing left worth taking and anything left totally
demolished all this took about 30 minutes.