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The Mysterious McAfee Tapes

McAfee and his co-pilot Ford Robinson revel in their initial exposure to the mount that would carry them into Carrera Panamericana competition. Photo: McAfee Collection / Rex McAfee

As a racecar driver, Jack McAfee needs no introduction. He was one of the greats of early sports car racing in America, with a career spanning from the late 1940s well into the 1960s, but Jack the man was a relatively shy and soft-spoken person. Known fondly as “Jack the Bear,” he was as gentle off the track as he was tenacious on it. That’s what makes this story so intriguing.

The McAfee audio tapes were recorded in 1954 at the beginning of the very last Carrera Panamericana, the international road race that ran the length of Mexico for nearly 2,000 miles. Their discovery, however, didn’t occur until the summer of 2000, 46 years later. This is the story behind both their discovery, and why a legacy of mystery lingers on.

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