The Dakar race lasts for 16 days and traverses nearly 6,000 miles of Africa’s wildest terrain. A Vatican newspaper calls it “the bloody race of irresponsibility;” understandably so, with nearly 50 deaths in the race’s 29 year history. According to The New York Times, that danger is part of Dakar’s allure. However, the race was canceled due to terrorist threats linked to al-Qaeda militants – sending angry racers like Robby Gordon packing.
Robby Gordon Motorsports spent around $4.5 million preparing two HUMMER race trucks for the Dakar rally. Gordon understands the risks – he even brings a private security detail – but he’s still upset that the race was canceled according to USA Today:
“Let’s put this in perspective: I’m pretty sure in L.A. we kill 11 a night on the streets — stabbed, shot, beat up, murdered,” said Gordon. “This is a couple of kids in the back of a pickup with AK-47s that shot a couple people. I’m sorry to say that, but that’s the reality. It’s not like this big setup and bombings or whatever. I feel sorry obviously for the families and the people that it happened to, but I don’t get it.”
According to an AP Source from Global Security Associates, a firm that specializes in high-profile event security like the Olympics, says the cancellation is unprecedented. “Smaller cultural events have been canceled before because of terror threats, but this hasn’t happened with such a major international event.” Other experts are warning that bowing to terrorist threats could be a dangerous trend. “They scored a media victory without firing a shot,” said Louis Caprioli, a former assistant director at France’s counterintelligence agency DST. “Everybody gets the impression that they are very powerful, when they in fact represent a small number of people in this region.”
The political repercussions from Dakar’s cancellation may outweigh the business side in the long run, but right now it’s tough to tell all the teams that prepared for the event, spending hundreds of millions total by some estimates, they’re simply out of luck.