An iconic FJ Holden departed Melbourne this week enroute to Mexico to compete in arguably one of the world’s toughest road races, the La Carrera Panamericana. It is one of only a handful of times that an Australian car has competed in one of the most famous events in motor racing history.
The FJ, fittingly sporting a racing kangaroo livery, is owned and will be driven by car restoration figure David Ryan and will be co-driven by Greg Stevenson, both from Melbourne.
“The FJ left Melbourne at 1am last Monday on the ‘Bahia Negra’ and after a few stops in New Zealand; it will go through the Panama Canal and will be unloaded in Columbia. From there it will board another ship for the final stop on the East Coast of Mexico on the 10th October,” said David Ryan.
In something that resembled a TV reality show, the car was packed, along with a full contingency of spare parts, tyres and safety equipment into its shipping container just minutes before it was due to depart – “We have been working on this car for well over eighteen months and it all came down to matter of minutes in the end. The shipping company had to load the container at 1pm last Friday and we were still loading the car with five minutes to go. We literally closed the doors with a minute to spare,” Ryan added.
The FJ has been meticulously built by not only Ryan and Stevenson but by some of the biggest names in the automotive industry, Ryan adds “I truly cannot believe the support we have had in building the car. It has been quite a humbling experience. It would be unfair to single out any one in particular but I thank each and every person that has spent their own time in helping us achieve our dream”
Ryan and Stevenson will depart Australia on October 16th with La Carrera Panamericana, or Pan Am as it’s affectionately known, kicking off on October 25th from the south eastern Mexican city of Veracruz. From there it will be a race north for 3,100 gruelling kilometres over eight days. Over 100 vintage classified cars participate from all over the world and whilst there are official placings, just finishing is seen as a significant accomplishment.
“Competing in the Pan Am will be a lifetime achievement for me. It’s something that I have promised myself that I will do for a very long time. My father would always speak about it when I was a kid and the interest just grew from there,” Ryan concluded.