Gardnerville man wins Encinada Gand Prix |

Gardnerville man wins Encinada Gand Prix

Donnie Nelson

John deCarlo went for the ride of his life last week in Encinada, Mexico.

deCarlo, of Gardnerville, took home first place with his 1965 self-built Mustang at the Encinada Grand Prix road race July 20 in the town located approximately 75 miles across the boarder from San Diego, Calif.

“It was a great thrill,” deCarlo said. “It’s one of my biggest wins.”

deCarlo, who got into the sport at the urging of a friend, started racing the car three years ago. He won six races last year, but none the magnitude of Encinada. Approximately 8,000 people lined the streets of downtown Encinada to watch the race, according to deCarlo. The race consisted of 15 laps, lasting about 35 minutes, around a zig zag layout.

“It’s a major thing down there,” deCarlo said. “They really get into it and it’s neat if you win because they treat you like a celebrity.”

deCarlo competed in the Vintage class. The event was a showcase for top Porsche racers in different categories.

deCarlo, who started racing Carts in Carson City before switching to racing his Mustang, went through practice and qualifying sessions July 18. But in the qualifying race July 19, deCarlo broke a line and lost his breaks. He failed to finish and thus earned the back spot in the starting grid. But, deCarlo passed all 12 competitors along the way en route to his win.

“It’s just such a fun event,” deCarlo said. “It’s for anyone who has an interest in racing and can get out and compete without being a millionaire racer.

deCarlo estimated a total of 100 cars competed in the different categories. It was the first race for deCarlo, a regular weekend warrior who travels and races around the west, outside of the United States. deCarlo said he has put in $75,000 to his car but that the amount isn’t necessary for want-to-be racers.

deCarlo is one of a handful of local racers who travel around the west to compete in various amateur races. The races usually have numerous different categories for all different types of cars and are run on city streets. Most of the courses are fairly wide open with many turns.