Every car in La Carrera Panamericana has a story. All of them are very different, but the story of the red BMW 2002 is really special. It’s the car driven by eighteen-year old Enrique Meza. Meza is the youngest driver ever to enter the Carrera and the youngest ever driver to win his category. Needless to say, we needed to talk to him.
Enrique, as a youngster crossing the finish line of La Carrera and winning your class, what’s going through your head?
It’s incredible. Before I even started, I’d already broken a record by being the youngest ever. Now I’ve added two more records to that. The youngest driver ever to finish the Carrera and the youngest ever to win his class. It was such a surreal experience, like you’re in a dream world. This event was also the only event I’ve ever raced in with participants from over the world.
At your age, you can’t have had a long career in Motorsport I imagine?
I started racing go carts when I was ten years old. I raced in the local Nascar championship and did some single seater racing as well. But rally is where my heart is. This year I became the rookie champion in the national rally championship. Honestly, this is the best year of my life.
What makes the Carrera so challenging?
Its length. It’s a very long endurance event, and you race for seven days straight covering over 3000 kilometres. The thing you have to learn is to manage yourself and the car. If you go flat-out at every speed stage, you will either crash or break the car. I had to learn this the hard way myself on the first day from Oaxaca to Veracruz. On one of the speed stages I pushed so hard that I ruined my brakes and damaged the gearbox.
How can you prepare for an event like this?
For an event this challenging, you have to prepare all year. You have to be really fit because the event takes place in very hot weather conditions and most of the cars are very physical to drive. I did a lot of reflex training and I worked a lot on my mental strength because you don’t want to crack under the pressure during an event like this.
A lot of the drivers and cars here are twice or maybe even three times your age. What does the Carrera mean to you?
My father competed in the Carrera many times when I was younger, driving this exact same car. Now I’ve won the category in his car, which to me is amazing. To be honest, when I started the Carrera Panamericana, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Everyone told me how amazing the event would be, but it was even crazier that I’d thought. I literally had to learn as the stages progressed.