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A Year of Pain

With 2013 officially here, it’s exciting to think of all the new seasons of racing that will begin in the new year. As much as I enjoy the madness of the multi-classed American Le Mans Series, the speed and agility of F1 racing and the reflexes and skill needed in the World Rally Championship, one form of motorsport always leaves me slack jawed and amazed. Endurance racing. The test of body, mind and machine over ridiculous distances and sometimes across unforgiving terrain, usually solidifying a certain brand or driver as the best, if not simply the toughest. Companies have long relied on the endurance races to prove to the world that their product is the fastest and strongest out there. Some races are only 4 hours while others last for weeks but regardless of the time or distance your just amazed that it was completed at all.

Here is a list of some of the endurance races I’m most looking forward to in 2013.

Dakar Rally

Dakar Rally T4 truck class

Originally named the Paris-Dakar Rally, after it’s original route from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, the Dakar Rally is one tough mother covering over 5000 miles in 2 weeks. With motorcycle, car and truck classes roaring across the landscape, the Dakar Rally is one of the worlds toughest multi-stage rallys around.

The race was actually thought up while founder Thierry Sabine got lost in the Libyan Desert during another race in 1977. As he looked around at the barren ladscape, he thought it would be the perfect place for a race. A year later, the first running of the Paris-Dakar began. Throughout most of its history, the European and African continents were the hosts of the race, until in 2008 a terrorist attack caused cancellation of the race. Since 2009 the race moved to South America traversing terrain covering Argentina and Chile.

With with single day stages of over 550 miles, the Dakar is a true test of drivers and machines. Sand dunes, rocks, mud, you name it, the Dakar has it. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve watched a 4 ton truck travel at triple digit speeds across the desert.

TV coverage can be found in 190 countries, so don’t miss the Dakar Rally which starts January 5th.

24 Hours of Le Mans

24 Hours of Le Mans

As a fixture in both the Triple Crown of Motorsports as well as the Triple Crown of Endurance racing, The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest active endurance race in the world. Starting in 1923, the original 24 Hours of Le Mans was another race designed to prove the superiority of the production cars of the time. Now the field is made up of full on race cars driven by factory backed teams as well as privateers with more modest backing.

Raced on Circuit de la Sarthe, near Le Mans, France, the track consists of public roads as well as committed racing portions totaling just under 8.5 miles. Over the course of the 24 hour race time, competitors commonly travel over 3100 miles reaching top speeds of over 200 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. Its been said that during this race, cars are at full throttle for 85% of the time

Because of this iconic race the car industry has advanced technologies in aerodynamics, fuel economy, supercharging and turbocharging, disc brakes and air brakes and hybrid systems like the Flywheel Hybrid System used in the Audi R18 e-tron. And although no longer used due to safety reasons, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is responsible for the Le Mans start.

See if the Audi team can maintain its dominance on June 22nd.

Targa Newfoundland

Mitsubishi Galant GTS running the Targa Newfoundland

Held in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, Targa Newfoundland is the only time distance rally currently held on closed public roads in North America. With three classes, the Targa Newfoundland has something for everybody. The Targa Division, which includes Classic, Modern, and Open Divisions, is for the committed race car that we love seeing slide around blind corners and flying down straights at impressive speeds. The Grand Touring Division, a Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) style competition for vehicles not prepped for racing, gives competitors a cheaper option for racing. Lastly, the Fast Tour Division, is a tour within the race. This division allows entrants to drive the course with a little vigor not usually allowed by local law enforcement but within the constraints prescribed by the event. This is for the fan of racing that doesn’t want the stress of competition.

Although its probably the easiest race on our list, Targa Newfoundland offers amazing scenery covering 1400 miles, over 7 days, that the common man can participate in. And with a relatively low cost and the fact that you can drive your car to the race, as apposed to shipping it on a boat to a foreign country, makes it an incredible race.

Running from September 14th-21st, you can still get your car ready to race on the public streets of our Neighbor to the North.

Tecate Baja 1000

Class 2 Buggy at Tecate Baja 1000

In 1962 Honda America wanted to prove the toughness of their CL72 Scrambler, so they decided to see how fast they could travel from Tijuana to La Paz, down the Baja Peninsula. Dave Ekins and Billy Robertson Jr recorded a time of 39 hours 56 minutes in their first attempt. In the following years other people tried to beat the time, on two and four wheels, but it wasn’t until October 31, 1967 that the first organized race took place.

In the following years, the race has been ran in both a loop and a point to point race but now is generally a point to point race starting in Ensenada and finishing in La Paz. Like many other races, the Baja 1000 has grown into a race for fully built and backed race vehicles but still is attempting to stay in touch with their roots. Although the loud and high flying Trophy Trucks are the main draw to the race, you can still find the almost bone stock VW Beetles of the Class 11 bouncing their way down the peninsula.

You’ll have to wait till the race starts on November 14th but in the meantime, check out Dust to Glory, an amazing documentary on the race, to get you pumped up on watching this years race.

Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye

KTM and Red Bull rider Johnny Walker climbing a waterfall.

The brain child of Martin Freinademetz, Romaniacs is a four day motorcycle point to point Hard Enduro race, traveling through the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. The rally starts with a prologue in the streets of Romania, designed to give fans a more close up view of the riders but to also determines the order in which riders will start the race.

After the prologue, riders are released into the Romanian country side for four days having to traverse steep mountain climbs, waterfalls, mud and rocks covering from 60 up to 140 miles each day and 30,000 feet of climbing in a single stage. In the past, riders with Trials experience have done very well, due to the technical routes mapped out, but a well rounded rider is key due to some of the flat out sections of the course. GPS directions have replaced routes being marked by banners and ribbons, making it slightly easier to navigate than in past events. Still, every rider is given a “survival kit” with a sealed map, mobile phone, flares, compass, survival blanket, mirror, first-aid kit, torch, 3 liters’ of water and spark plug just in case they do get lost. If the map is opened, the rider is automatically disqualified from the race.

You’ll have to wait till July 6th for this years action to start but check out some coverage from last years race here.

Erzberg Rodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble

Riders attempting to simply get out of the pit of the Iron Giant.

If you were told you would be racing at a venue called The Iron Giant and that the DNF rate of the race was around 99.7%, you would probably have some reservations, maybe even some down right fears. And that would be the correct reaction. The Iron Giant is an iron ore mine located in Eisenerz, Styria, Austria and is the location of what is probably the hardest race on the list. The Erzberg Rodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble is another motorcycle point to point Hard Enduro. Starting at the bottom of the ore pit, riders then climb their way up and out to tackle the rest of the almost impossible terrain surrounding the pit. Insanely steep climbs, mud and giant boulder sections make this race truly will crushing.

1800 riders attempt to qualify for Erzberg. Out of that 1800, only 500 make it to the start line. Last year, only 7 people finished the course in the allowed time. Weather plays a huge part in this race. Last years race was cut short by 30 minutes due to heavy fog and rain, making certain obstacles nearly impossible.

The action starts June 2nd, so if you enjoy watching motorsport carnage, this is the one to watch. Check out some coverage from last years race here.

Let us know what races your looking forward to watching or participating in in 2013 on our Facebook page!

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