You probably know my successes as a pilot at the international level. I’ve won races in CART, Champ Car, and IRL, some with fernandez race, A team that I founded and with him Became American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Champion Together with Luis Diaz El Chapo. A lesser known story is how my international motorsports career began. There were times when it was easier to give up everything, Take a trip home and find a regular job. And it will not only be easier, but Also the most plausible, because sometimes things seemed completely out of reach, But I never gave up.
Let me go back to the late eighties. After becoming a two-time champion in Formula Vee and racing at the top of Formula K for three consecutive seasons mexico, I had suggested going to Europe in 1986 To run in the Formula Ford class. RiaI applied for a project called “Adrián Fernandez to Formula 1”.
You made an excellent presentation hope b attract sponsors, But unfortunately at that time Nobody was interested. Remember that Rodri brothers glory daysGez and Hector Ryback are already gone. If you tell someone what you want to playMy homeland, this person told you it was a crazy dream. But still, I did my best To make this crazy dream come true. But then came the earthquake of 1985, and, of course, Everything is delayed.
In 1984 I received an invitation from Rogelio Rodriguez, A great driver friend of mine, who had previously raced in the US, to accompany him on a trip to England to buy parts for the cars he was with that we had in Mexico. On that trip, Rodríguez introduced me to many people from the automotive environment.An international driving force, and when I first visited the historic Brands Hatch circuit, I was I was clear: I had to come to Europe. As I watched the cars go by, I said to myself: “I will work as hard as I can to get here.”
I’m back from my visit to Brands Hatch I sold all my racing gear And with the money I paid upfront to race the FF1600 in the British Esso and RAC Championships in 1987.
The rest of the money was to come from the Abed brothers, who organized the Grand Prix in Mexico.Mexico at that time. At least, that’s what I thought. I needed about 20 thousand dollars and Jose AbidHe said he would try to help me. I was young and naive and took it as a promise. but Money did not arrive.
My first contact with Europe
within, In England everything was arranged by Ken Stanford, influential person In the center that I met. Tell me I’ll be the next Ayrton Cinnamon tree And it can help me… I got so excited that I gave him all my money. It was a big mistake. Part of the money went to pay for a test at Snetterton Racecourse which never snowed and I was never reimbursed, and another part went to payI gave the advance to the mechanic that he would form his own team for me and pay part of the house because I was going to live in his house.
already lives with him and A few weeks before the start of the tournament, I got a call from the Abed brothers. They will not be able to help me financially. Nowadays, laptops come with high quality graphics card.
I called my father to ask if he could lend me $10,000. Hear me so desperateHe said to me: “Yes, but you have to think if this is going to take you where Wants’. Because next time, if he wants to move up the career ladder, it will be $100,000 higher. We didn’t get money. My family was not poor But not rich So I didn’t sleep all night while thinking about what I should do. The next day I called my dad to tell him I didn’t want the $10,000 and that Thanks a lot for your support. ‘Good. He asked me when will you come home? I replied I will not come back. ‘What do you mean?’. I will not come back. I don’t want to go home a failure. I will work tirelessly until I achieve it. This is my dream.
I’ve come to the conclusion that $10,000 from my dad isn’t going to get me very far.
And this, instead of helping me, can harm me. Because I wouldn’t be on the best team and I didn’t go To be in the best environment, as I didn’t have any kind of support behind me. And my father could not have loaned me more money for the next step in my career. And already 10 thousand dollars They were going to hit him. So I didn’t want to. I knew I needed to find sponsorshipRes, people who can help me get very far.
So there I was, in the UK with no money. The only good thing Ken did for me was communicate with him Henny Follenberg, who had a trucking company in Holland vitAnd A racing team and distributor of Bridgestone brand racing tires.
Ken called Heaney and asked if she wanted to help this young Mexican pilot. explain to him Which happened to me and I tell him I don’t have money. Unfortunately, Ken got the rest. out of my savings and didn’t give my own money back, not even for eating.
I lost everything. I explained that I had no way of making money in the UK, so He should have gone. At the time I only had about 200 lbs.
Henny was willing to give me a chance. Call me and He invited me to go to Sint Anthony. He sent a truck with Anton van Rijn, who ran Hen’s Formula Ford teamNew York and it turned out to be Arie Luyendyk’s son-in-law, 500 winner Indianapolis Miles From 1990 to 1997 and years later I competed with him and made a great friendship. I met him at Dover and we went to Calais, France, in a Hovercraft I had never seen before. But they never told me I needed a visa or anything. So when I arrived in France and they asked me for the documents, I couldn’t show them the visa. I asked him what does that mean? “Okay, you have to go back.” I replied but I have little money. I had no choice but to return to Dover in England and ended up with only £10 in my pocket.
hidden in a truck
I called Henny and she told me another truck would come in a couple of days. And this time we’ll go through Billgica instead of france. I sold some of the things I had in my bags to be able to eat I slept in the lounge for two nights. I washed in the public bathroom, slept on a bench and spent the rest of the day walking with my bags so as not to get bored, while I waited for the other van to arrive. Two days later he arrived. This was a bigger truck. Instead of a hydrofoil, we took a ferry ride. I remember reading on the news that a few weeks ago a similar news item sank in. The sea was very rough, so I was very afraid. I slept with the truckers downstairs in the ferry, which wasn’t a very pleasant area, and I’d prepared and checked the ways in my mind for my escape in case of an emergency.
Meanwhile, I was also afraid that they would send me back when I arrived in Belgium because I didn’t have a visa to enter either. I asked the driver if he could help me. CanTo help me hide in the truck to cross the border? It was my last chance.
I told him that I needed to enter the country. The man does not want to know anything. He replied, “You are crazy.” I Saied to him The story then looked at me and said: “Which Mexican pilot wants to go to the Netherlands?” It was very difficult Talk to him, as he doesn’t speak English very well. But in the end I managed to convince him.
Two hours before our arrival at the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, we entered from the back from the truck. I went to the bottom to hide And I took about three empty bottles to pee. We agreed on a sign to see when it was safe to go out. I probably spent three or four hours in the back of the truck. Which felt like an eternity, were moments of great tension and anxiety, any noise I heard I thought they had discovered me. (He follows)…
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