First- Paris-Dakar 2008 has been canceled.
This in itself is horrible. Paris-Dakar is the world’s longest off-road rally; it usually starts in France and winds up in Senegal, and over the years it’s been run through Portugal, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Niger, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and the Western Sahara. This year’s rally was set to be the roughest course ever, with more than 5,700 miles of rock, riverbed, ravine and road to traverse.
More importantly, for gearheads who love to drive the Paris-Dakar is the ultimate dream- crossing desert, dune, mud flat, rock, ravine and erg in a grinding more-than-4,000-mile run at an average temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is the definitive test of driving and navigational skill, mechanical skill, wilderness survival skill, determination and endurance for any driving team. Only 40% of those who begin the race finish it.
And the 2008 Paris-Dakar was canceled two weeks ago due to terrorist threats from (who else?) Al-Quaeda.
That’s bad enough. Now comes the ridiculous part.
It’ll be run next year.
Excuse me? It’s called the Paris-Dakar (or more recently the
The movement from Europe to
Moving the Paris-Dakar to
Change the course to avoid terrorist-controlled areas? Yes- though it will prove challenging and delicate, it can be done.
Move it from two continents to one- one in another hemisphere? No.
The Paris-Dakar has run for thirty years not only on the grueling, nerve-sapping challenge it presents, but also on the intrigue and fascination of the transition from new to old on a scale that maps tens of thousands of years of human existence.
Let the Paris-Dakar remain in its birthplace.
Let its entrants challenge their own beginnings and have the singular and unmatchable satisfaction of finishing their race face-to-face with the fathomless gaze of their ancient past.