The name ‘Carrera’ is Spanish for ‘race’ and around the globe, synonymous with high-speed sport. During the 1950s’ the world’s wealthiest, renowned for their ‘win at all costs’ mentality, clambered to compete in the six day Carrera Panamericana car race that crossed Mexico.
Porsche commemorated its success in the event with the launch of its ‘Carrera’ brand of which there have since been many models. In 1956 the Austrian sports eyewear maker Wilhelm Anger was also inspired by the Carrera Panamericana. No surprises… he chose to create the Carrera brand of sports eyewear.
The Carrera Panamericana was a border-to-border car race initiated in Mexico in 1950 by the government of the time to celebrate the development of the PanAmerican highway and promote international business.
The race lasted just five years before being disbanded. The official line was that it had done its job in creating awareness of the new road. In fact it had also done its job in losing lives. In five years, 27 people died, giving it one of the highest mortality rates per race in the history of motorsport. Typically, only a third of entrants managed to complete the nine-stage, six-day cross-country race.
The reason for the high mortality was essentially technological advance. During the years the race was held, automobile racing emerged as an advanced science. Speeds almost doubled, but safety controls remained static and competitors, spectators and safety control personnel alike became casualties.
Technology and sports performance is also behind the success of Carrera eyewear.
In 1964 its parent company Wilhelm Anger Werker developed and patented “Optyl”, a special heat-hardened plastic material that weighs 20 per cent less than acetate and any other thermoplastic material. With an amazing “memory effect”, it offered permanent elasticity and dimensional stability.
“Carrera International” was established in 1977 with its headquarters and management in Traun, Austria. The company, headed by Albrecht Rosenauer, presented a new line of sports eyewear on the market at this time and achieved enormous success.
In 1979 the sunglass collection “Carrera Porsche Design”, was developed in conjunction with the famous automobile designer Ferdinand Alexander. In a short time the new line achieved extraordinary levels of fame and success, thanks also to revolutionary innovations like interchangeable lenses and folding glasses.
In 1981 the company began producing prescription frames and, following a further three years of research on the product, the technology was applied to its eyewear. Carrera began marketing prescription styles of “Carrera” and “Carrera Porsche Design”.
In 1996, when Carrera joined the Safilo Group the focus on research into technology and design intensified, resulting in increasingly innovative eyewear, as well as masks and helmets for skiers. Today the company’s research and development department, located at the company’s headquarters in Padua, Italy is involved in every step of the design and manufacture process – from the first draft to the final design, from the raw model to the prototype, from the development in 3D to the industrialisation and from the selection of colours to the aesthetic definition of the collection.
Much of the original spirit and vintage styling of the Carrera brand, that brought success in the eighties, is retained in Carrera’s eye wear today. Distinctive details, sophisticated colours and strong lines combine to create an elegant, flattering look for anyone keen on sports.
And the brand is no longer just for adults. The “Carrera Junior” eyewear collection for children includes a line of casual sunglasses and prescription frames in bright, lively colours often presented in combinations of contrasting shades. The use of hyper-allergenic material in the nose-pads, the rubber temples and the use of rugged polycarbonate lenses that can withstand impact, scratching and UV 400 radiation make these glasses particularly comfortable for wearers and practical for active kids.
Carrera eyewear continues to flourish and interestingly, despite having been cancelled back in 1956, the Carrera Panamericana also continues to go from strength to strength.
The race was resurrected in 1988 and today continues to run as a 7-day event on special closed stages of the public road network and fast transit sections through central Mexico at speeds approaching 260 km/h.