Porsche Revisits Deadly Race That Inspired Its Most Famous Names

Classic Cars / Comments

The Carrera Panamericana was known as the world's most dangerous race.

Have you ever stopped to wonder where certain car names came from? Sure, we know Hyundai likes naming SUVs after places in America, and everyone knows how Chevrolet named the Camaro after a fictional creature that hunts horses - aimed at the Mustang. But what about the Porsche 911 Carrera or Porsche Carrera GT?

Linguaphiles will know that carrera is a Spanish word translating as either 'career' or 'race', but for Porsche aficionados, it's something more. It hails from the name of a great border-to-border race in Mexico called the Carrera Panamericana, where Porsche enjoyed great success historically. Now, Porsche has released a spectacular short film on YouTube paying tribute to the race itself and the Porsches that partook in it, and it's one of the best videos we've watched all year.

Porsche/YouTube
Porsche/YouTube
Porsche/YouTube

The Carrera Panamericana was a seven-day race across the streets of Mexico. In much the same vein as the classic Targa Florio or Mille Miglia in Italy, it was run on open roads at high speeds, but this event only ran for five consecutive years between 1950 and 1954. Many of those who took part regarded it as the most dangerous race in the world - not just road race, but any race. The route changed annually, but it was always known for being dangerous, and 1953 was the bloodiest of them all, with nine people dying including six spectators. That was the year in which Sports and Stock classes were subdivided into large and small categories and the year in which Porsche claimed its first category win, the Small Sports Car category with Guatemala's Jose Herrarte at the wheel of a Porsche 550 Spyder.

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YouTube/Porsche
YouTube/Porsche
YouTube/Porsche
YouTube/Porsche

The video showcases it all, from the glory and the beauty of victory to the horror of high-speed crashes in less-than-ideal terrain. The Carrera Panamericana is no longer run as a race, but it does form part of a regular pilgrimage for gearheads who recreate the race as part of road rallies.

The 911 Carrera is not the only car to be inspired by the famous rally, however, as Porsche's own Panamera also took influence, while the vertical grille design found on contemporary Mercedes-AMG models is named the Panamericana Grille after that brand's 1952 success in a W194 Mercedes SL, despite the windscreen being smashed by a vulture along the way.

Wikimedia Commons
YouTube/Porsche
YouTube/Porsche
YouTube/Porsche
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