Thursday, January 22, 2009

Done with Dakar



The Dakar Rally wrapped up here in Buenos Aires this past weekend. The balls-to-the-wall endurance race sent hundreds of cowboys roaring across the rugged landscapes of Argentina and Chile for two weeks. There was lots of dust, dirt, blood and a few deaths, but that’s par-for-the-course for the Dakar Rally, which took place here in South America for the first time after organizers deemed Africa too dangerous because of security threats.

The race dominated news here. Argentines and Chileans enthusiastically embraced the competition, and thousands lined up along the race route to cheer.

All the attention got me thinking about an idea that always pops into my mind every time I see images of racing cars: What’s the point? Or, more importantly, isn’t there something better we could be doing with our precious oil?

Don’t get me wrong, I admire the spirit of competition, and I am intrigued by the reality of pitting man, machine and nature against one another in extreme environments, but the whole idea of motor sports just seems like a big waste of the natural resources that are in increasingly short supply these days.

(Almost) the whole world seems to agree that we need to conserve our commodities and slow global warming….well, how about we stop encouraging races like the Dakar and tell these dolts behind the wheel to get another gig?

I’m not saying it doesn’t require talent, hard work, dedication, blah, blah, blah….but when I see 120,000 sunburned shoobs packed into bleachers in Talladega, or on the swanky streets of Monte Carlo, or in the deserts of Chile, I am truly perplexed. And, more to the point, I wonder why no one ever talks about how much oil is wasted to sustain these “sports.”

Sure, the argument could be made that every time the L.A. Lakers fly to Boston to play the Celtics they make a huge carbon footprint, or that countless quantities of energy and fuel are consumed to gather athletes together every four years for the Olympics and the World Cup, but once they get to Beijing or Berlin, the gas guzzling tends to cease, right?

So tell the Finnish rally car drivers, and the South African motorcycle studs, and the German Formula One champs, and the North Carolinian NASCAR knuckleheads that they are on notice, and that their sporting days may be numbered.

Photo courtesy of AFP.

5 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Just how many are a "few" (deaths)?

Brian Byrnes said...

Anonymous,

Aside from the death of Frenchmen Pascal Terry, two others died in a rally-related accident in Chile:

Jan 9, 2009

SANTIAGO (AFP) — Two people were killed Friday when a Dakar Rally support truck from Argentina slammed head-on into another vehicle, police said.

The accident occurred near Pejerreyes, some 400km north of Santiago near the route of Monday's planned ninth stage between La Serena and Copiapo.

The support truck, carrying tyres for rally contestants, was operated by an Argentinian company. It was travelling with a Dakar Rally organization logistical support car.

According to the initial police reports, Argentinian truck driver Marcelo Sanchez crossed the center line for an unknown reason and hit the smaller oncoming vehicle. The two occupants of the vehicle, who were Peruvian, were killed.

Sanchez was jailed pending an investigation, police said.

The famed race is being held in South America because of terrorist fears in Africa, and has already been marred by the death of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry.

Good Eater said...

I agree fully, Brian. If we are really serious about staving off the worst of the havoc that global climate change has already begun to wreak, we can start by giving up off-road rallies in which people routinely die...

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