I’ll break out in a song:
PARIS (AP) — The Dakar Rally, the epic motorcycle, car and truck race across the Sahara desert, was canceled Friday by organizers citing “direct” threats of terrorism from al-Qaida-linked militants.
The race was deemed too inviting — and too easy — a target for the terror group’s new north African affiliate. The roughly 550 competitors were to have embarked Saturday on the 16-day, 5,760-mile trek through remote and hostile dunes and scrub from Europe to Senegal in west Africa.
This is the first shutdown in it’s thirty-year history. Five hundred and fifty have been hung out to dry at the last minute. It’s always been dangerous, but everyone knows that going into it.
In 1982, Mark Thatcher, son of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, got lost in the desert for six days. In 1988, the leading truck crashed and killed a driver, and over the last three years the race has claimed seven lives — five motorcyclists and two spectators.
Dakar race organizers based in France were urged to avoid Mauritania, where a family of four was reportedly killed by militants linked to Al-Qaida.
Individual stages of the event have been cancelled in the past, but this is the first time the entire event was cancelled — much in part because eight of the stages would’ve taken place near the terror-plagued Mauritanian desert.
“It’s a weird time now when you have to cancel races because of terrorist activities,” said Bill Auberlen, driver of the No. 23 AJR Porsche Crawford. “You have to because it’s a safety issue but where’s it going to end?”
Of course, some folks first reaction is to sue.
For me, this race and the 24-hour race at Daytona Speedway have always heralded a new season of motorsports.