After being cancelled last year due to fear of terrorist attacks, the Dakar rally this year is being held in Argentina and Chile rather than West Africa. Which is kind of cool, the vision of Mad Maxed VW Touaregs and Russian trucks and combat 911s roaring through the Borgesian backcountry for an extreme Gaucho autogeddon. Maybe they stop in the lawless tri-border area of Alta Paraná, reported to be an Al Qaeda safe haven?
Though I have to say, moving the race out of Africa due to concerns about terrorism seems to miss the point. This is already the deadliest auto race out there (already several casualties just a few days into the race this year), with all the hazards incident to taking your car off the road and into wild nature, from blown tires and dusted-up engines to the simple old problem of getting seriously lost in the middle of nowhere. Which is how the race got started, when an adventurous Frenchman got lost in the Libyan desert and said, hey, what a cool spot for a race. So wouldn't the additional hazard of potentially being abducted by Janjaweed militiamen, members of the Polisario Front, or Tuareg sand people just amp up the Speed Racer-meets-War of Terror 21st century potentiality of the whole affair? Maybe next year.
2009 Dakar Rally.
(Yeah, I know, they don't come anywhere close to Patagonia.)