Paris-Dakar Origins

The story begins lost in a desert.

In 1977, Thierry Sabine got himself lost in the Tenere Desert. Normal people wouldn't have thought to plan a race through the exact place you got lost. Sabine wasn't exactly normal. Great ideas rarely are.



So for the next year, Sabine organized a race event running from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal. That's a 6,200-mile ultra-marathon. And it's not like the organizers build a track. Drivers and their teams are given GPS coordinates and pacenotes, describing the route and what teams will be up against. That includes full-sized sand dunes.


Originally, motorcyclists and cars competed, followed by their team's truck. The first year saw 182 drivers start. Two years after the first 1978 race, trucks entered the competition as a class and added to that number. Today, just under 350 began competition.

This video captures the 1984 race in all of its insane, Mad Max-esque glory. Including racing legend Jacky Ickx. and his oh-so-sweet, 4-wheel-drive 911.

Watch the live feed from the current Dakar rally here: