You might be wondering why the Dakar race is named after a city in Africa but running entirely in South America. Well, it started out as a race from Paris to Senegal's capital Dakar in 1979 and even though it's seen some variation over the years, the route always used to pass through Europe and Africa.
Car highlights from the 2011 Rally Dakar race
Security in a nutty race like this has always been a concern but in 2008 the security threats grew significant enough to cancel the event. The following year, organizers found a new home for it in South America. They kept the event's name because of its popularity, just like a professional sports franchise that moves to a new city. (It makes as much sense as moving the L.A. Lakers from Minnesota to Los Angeles and keeping the franchise name even though there is barely any drinking water in the area.) At least South America has great deserts and very exciting terrain perfect for an extreme rally like Dakar.
The Dakar Rally 2012 goes coast to coast from Argentina
across the Andes to Chile and Peru
The Dakar Rally is probably the world’s most dangerous race and the 2012 event has been no exception. The 21-st death of a competitor in the history of the event was recorded in the very first stage of this year's 33-rd running. Motorcycle rider Jorge Andrés Boero died of a heart attack following a crash just a mile before the finish line in Stage 1. During stage 2, the ultralight aircraft of a father-son duo watching the race crashed and both died at the scene.
In spite of the risks associated with an extreme race like Dakar (or maybe precisely because of that!), over 200 teams are competing in the 2012 Dakar rally. They will cover record 6,000 miles in only 14 days and finish this January 15 in Lima, Peru. You know, if the event can be extended by a few days and it keeps moving North, we have very good deserts and mountains to offer Stateside too. It's good to keep that in mind in case the typically peaceful Argentinian gauchos start complaining about the race cars blowing by too fast! And Brock Yates is still around to show us how to run a Cannonball-style event!
Follow Red Bull's Dakar Rally 2012 live updates here.