“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
– Louis L’Amour
Below: Team Wide Open Dakar, packing up to head home to North America, January 4th, 2008.
In full ASO fashion and just over one month from the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally – which truly felt like a lifetime – the sporting organization officially released what had been strong rumors of not just a MakeUp Rally but of a new Dakar Rally Series to be introduced into the offroad motorsport world.
Sure, fun and all, but WHO is going to be there?
I had a film and it’s not like I could just recast! Damn Documentaries, this is going to be the death of me for sure. …And that was what made endurance and patience the BIGGEST lesson of the last month.
Email and text message tag with US Volkswagen driver Mark Miller… Charlie Rauseo and his Team Rally PanAmerica Enduro-riders bouncing between the Tunisia Rally and the ASO’s Dakar Series Premier event in Budapest… Then distracted by who was going to sue who in the world of offroad?
I didn’t care, I just wanted to know WHO was up for a real challenge… Who was going to survive the cancellation and get to the 2009 Dakar, where ever in the world it was going to be.
The cancellation, I felt spun everyone that participates (racers, media, sponsors, teams, the organization and viewers) directly into what the true nature of the Dakar is… at least to me.
That day, standing outside the auditorium when Eteinne Lavigne, the Director of the Dakar Rally announced the Rally’s cancellation to hundreds of competitors just a hands stretch from where only hours earlier, bikes were being parked, vehicles being inspected.
Just a hand stretch away, the Iconic starting podium was to wait patiently for the next 12 hours to pass, it’s sole purpose, to be in the limelight sending off the Pro right down to the Amateur racer onto one of the greatest adventures of their lives…
Only it wasn’t the start of the 2008 Rally that waved everyone off… it was the cancellation – the biggest test that the rally could have ever handed down to everyone since it inception 30 years earlier. The ultimate test of endurance and navigation wasn’t just going to be 15 days in the winter months of January.
With the clear and precise words from Etiennne on January 5th, 2008 at 12:00 noon, The Ultimate Dakar swiftly turned into the ENTIRE year of 2008… 365 days of obstacles, no GPS and NO destination (at that time…).
One statement laid down bankruptcy in front of privateers and team managers, all spinning with their now vacant promises to sponsors.
At this moment, the Dakar was not only a rally, it became life… and the question became quite clear to me..
“who was going to make it to the 2009 Rally?”
money, bankruptcy, sponsors, mortgages, marriages – all either succumbed to the 2008 cancellation and have stolen away these life-long dreams?
“what is one willing to sacrifice in the coming year of 2008, for one more chance at racing this elusive Dakar Rally?”
It became haunting to think about who wouldn’t be there…
…and then to think about what would people be willing to do, to give up to get there…
(click to find out who’s who…)
Darren Skilton? (Team Wide Open Dakar) (North American Dakar Correspondent)
…the rest of the North American Racers that make up 5% of the total Dakar Rally competitors?
I am about to find out…
Me? I wouldn’t miss this 2009 Dakar Rally for the world and I might just be signing over everything for this one last shot.
It’s going to be a year of both endurance and navigational tests and these won’t be the ones in the dunes. These tests will be the ones that make a person fall in love with life all over again – this is what the Dakar is known for…
“It changes people”.
It has already changed me, and like the others before me, I’ve been bitten but I have also become intoxicated with it’s mystery. Damn it – here we go again!
What do you say we buckle up… and pull out that map and get MOVING!
Ok, one more time for old time’s sake just ’cause I CAN!
You all have balls for sticking with me!!
THANKS to everyone for the overwhelming support. It’s amazing to know that you all were there for the 2008 start with me. Now lets see what that 2009 thing is all about, ok? 😉
See you in Budapest and before you know it, Buenos-Aries, baby, YEAH! 😉
The Dakar Series, Central Europe Rally, Hungary – Romania
The 2009 Dakar Rally, Argentina – Chile