Austin A35, La Cucaracha.

The conrod that broke in their engine and was made of titanium – that one conrod cost more than my car.

1993 Centre of attention

La Cucaracha dominates the press coverage of the Carerra Panamerica.

I got to the first town which was a beautiful old Mexican town with a big square with covered walkways and little shops, restaurants and bars. I found Mr. and Mrs. Ward of the top team sitting and drinking. I asked: ‘What happened to you guys?’ The very quote of Mrs. Ward was: ‘The third f*cking gear and that was it.’ They got into third gear and the engine exploded! So they coasted into the crowd and I didn’t even see them because they were surrounded by thousands of people. I’d managed to beat them within the first two minutes of the race.

I sat there and had a drink with them and we worked that the conrod that broke in their engine and was made of titanium – that one conrod cost more than my car. They saw the funny side…eventually.

As time went by lots of cars crashed and broke down, the little A-35 didn’t crash or break down much. La Cucaracha got to the end and the crowd loved it. The first night, the rally was on the television news and everyone stood up to see the big screen and see themselves on telly. So the rally report came on and they had the guy leading the rally and in 64th place…La Cucaracha. There was a big long shot of La Cucaracha shooting along. Then the next day on the front page of the only national paper was a picture of…La Cucaracha.

Suddenly the organisers realised that I’m not so much of a bad guy after all. And now they start talking to me, but by then I was not talking to them. The car became quite famous and some entrepreneur made little triangular, blue flags with La Cucaracha written on them. All of the crowd had one of these flags. The crowds would say to the Marshals ‘Where’s La Cucaracha? Where’s La Cucaracha?’

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