Okay, so it must be a measure of Pandemic Boredom and the sad fact that, even here on MOTHERS' DAY, a lot of you have nothing better to do than to read my crapola and take occasionally wild pot shots at the trivia question. Although we did get an almost embarrassingly large number of very prompt (if not always accurate or complete) responses. Shouldn't you folks be doing something nice for the mothers who bore and put up with you instead? Anyhow, here's the picture again:

Many of you got the WHERE? part right. Yeah, it's Mexico. Fewer got the WHEN? (it's 1952) and that of course means it just HAS to be La Carrera Panamerica (aka "The Mexican Road Race") in November of '52 and, if you were paying attention at the time and have not since rotted your brain with alcohol, hallucinatory drugs and/or now-legal-in-many-states wacky tobbacy, you would remember that this race--including the incident pictured above--was covered in florid detail in my book

which you can still buy a copy of in case you lost yours or spilled paint thinner, gasoline, red wine or gearlube all over it.
But the point is that the car pictured somewhat crunched and at the craggy bottom of a singularly gnarly gully is the 2.3-liter, 6-cylinder twincam Gordini of one of my favorite Unsung (or maybe Under Sung?) Hero drivers, Jean Behra. Behra was a small guy but tough and solid (he was once a boxer and also a champion motorcycle racer) and he was very brave, very skilled and very fast and a great hero in France.
Now the Gordini's strong suit was that it was extremely light and agile (it was essentially a grand prix car with fenders and headlamps) and Behra elected to run it in La Carrera without a navigator or riding mechanic because he didn't want to carry the extra weight. Smart move. Maybe.
The race started in the south at the Guatemalan border in 1952, and the first two days were through the mountains, valleys and foothills with lots of corners, climbs, plummets and switchbacks. Much to everyone's amazement, Behra and his Gordini finished FIRST OVERALL on the time sheets at the end of Day One, a full five-and-one-half minutes ahead of Giovanni Bracco's "lightweight" Ferrari coupe in second! Wow!
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite so swimmingly on Day Two, when Jean maybe could have used a navigator [preferably with route notes] to warn him of the very sharp turn at the bottom of a long, steep downhill (and with the aforementioned rock gully on the other side). Jean left smoking rubber streaks off all four tires before launching over the edge and into the sad and sorry position shown. He was banged up, but no worse than he had been on other occasions (Jean had a plastic ear as a souvenir of one of his earlier racing wrecks) and he was racing again in the spring.
My very favorite Jean Behra story is from when he was driving for the Ferrari factory team (both Phil Hill and Dan Gurney rated him highly) and, at the French Grand Prix at Reims, he worked his way up to third but then the motor broke. Ferrari Team Manager Romolo Tavoni berated him afterwards for not trying hard enough (in his home race, no less) and abusing the car. Behra responded by punching Tavoni in the nose.
Needless to say, that was his last race for Ferrari...
He was sadly killed shortly afterward driving his own Porsche at the Avus track in Germany.
I always thought Behra was an underappreciated driver and a great, colorful and even romantic character from an era when there actually were such things.
I received a few emails from folks who tried to access my piece in Veloce Today and couldn't get through to it. So if you want to check it out, try the revised link below:


Who dis?

Parting note for race photographers:

Sometimes you just miss the shot...

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: