ANGÉLICA FUENTES Take on 2020 LA CARRERA PANAMERICANA – After years of being told that competing in the La Carrera Panamericana was not for women, Angélica Fuentes finally recognized her dream of successfully racing in one of the world’s most grueling road races in La Carrera Panamericana. Mexican Angélica Fuentes’ story is one that embodies grit, determination, and passion in not only taking on La Carrera Panamericana, but also becoming a championship driver in the process. The journey also cemented her reputation as one of South America’s most colorful figures in motorsport.
While Fuentes now makes her home in London, she was born and raised in Mexico with a family dedicated to racing. The daughter of a racing driver and sister to a fellow rally competitor, Fuentes developed a taste for racing at a very young age. By the time she was 16 years old, Fuentes was crowned a national champion in Mexico at the prestigious Mexican Rally Championship. Since then, Fuentes has continued building an impressive resume of motorsports achievements competing in road races all around the world, including the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and La Carrera Panamericana.
“Many others told me that a career in racing wasn’t possible. Despite that, I always chose to block out the negativity and eventually I was the first woman in Mexico to win a championship at just 16 years old,” comments Fuentes. “My favorite event has always been La Carrera Panamericana, because of the teamwork and determination required to have success. Having a positive, focused mindset is the key to this event, and overcoming the adversity I had as a child helped me sharpen my focus for mentally draining events like this.”
Long celebrated as one of the most intense challenges in all of motorsports, La Carrera Panamericana is a fantastically grueling undertaking, spanning seven days through the winding roads of Southern Mexico finishing up into the Northern part of the country. La Carrera Panamericana serves to push tandem teams composed of both a pilot and a navigator to the absolute limit while also pushing the cars to the breaking point. The week-long odyssey that winds throughout the country is known for forging incredible bonds between the driver tandems competing as they whiplash through some of Mexico’s most difficult terrain.
Fuentes first competed in La Carrera Panamericana in 1992 and tenaciously returns to the event every year. Gabriel Pérez is her driver, whom she has raced with or against for nearly 30 years. Their last win together at La Carrera Panamericana was in 2006, however, Pérez also won the event in both 2012 and 2013. The pair’s thrilling 2006 win made Fuentes the first Mexican woman to ever claim victory at La Carrera Panamericana, a feat that has not been achieved since.
The victory is even more impressive due to the fact the duo beat every car in every class while running a car in the lesser-powered Tourismo Production class. The landmark win from Fuentes and Pérez is the only time a car from the Tourismo Production class ever beat out all cars from the higher-powered Tourismo Mayor class. Since Fuentes’ remarkable championship with Pérez, every other Carrera race has been won by a Tourismo Mayor car, making it an even more unique achievement.
Last year, Fuentes and Pérez competed at La Carrera Panamericana in a stunning customized 1953 Studebaker Champion. Celebrated as one of the stalwarts of the competition, the fiery, powerful 650-hp Studebakers famously gather and race against one another every year in an iconic assembly of classic motorsport.
“Being with Gabriel (Pérez) has been such an extraordinary experience, because we are friends and we get along really well. It’s all based on trust, and we work extremely well together,” continues Fuentes. “What I love about this team and working with Gabriel is that we go through ups and downs but we always work harder, and we embody the spirit of never giving up.”
Once again, the results for Fuentes and Pérez at La Carrera Panamericana were impressive for 2020. The team finished third overall and third in the Tourismo Mayor class. Their finishing time of 5:36:37, was 2:26 minutes behind the overall winner. Motorsports storytellers Driving La Carrera embedded with Fuentes and Pérez throughout the week-long race, and highlighted the pair’s race, which can be viewed on YouTube. As La Carrera Panamericana once again looks forward to welcoming drivers from around the world this October, Fuentes and Pérez are looking to make racing history securing their second victory together. To learn more about La Carrera Panamericana and discover some of the incredible stories behind one of the world’s great road races, please visit www.drivinglacarrera.com.
ANGÉLICA FUENTES Take on 2020 LA CARRERA PANAMERICANA
For more motorsports features, visit our CarShowz blog section, here.