If you want to see the world but the typically tourist trampled backpacking routes just don’t appeal, we’ve got you covered. There’s no better feeling than getting in your car and going for a drive just to see where the journey takes you, so take that feeling and dump it half way across the world, hurtling across varied terrain towards whatever the horizon has in store and you’ve got yourself the ultimate driving holiday.
We’ve compiled our favourite rallies for all budgets, so read on and get ready to start booking some flights…
1. The Inca Rally
There are absolutely tons of so-called ‘Banger Rallies’ that we could mention, and they’re all pretty similar. You’ve got the Ramshackle Rally, The Dumball and Barcelona Bangers to name but a few. It’s impossible to pick between them and it comes down to whether they take in the sights and cities you fancy checking out.
So what makes The Inca Rally special? Well firstly it’s in South America. Starting in Peru and finishing in Guyana you blaze your own trail through Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Along the way you’ll enjoy “endless Andean vistas one day, chill on the crystalline Caribbean Sea another and cruise through some beautiful colonial cities before getting lost in the Amazonian rainforest for a bit”, which sounds way more fun than endless French Autoroutes.
Half the fun of this particular rally is that you arrive without a car, and have to haggle your way into a motor after you arrive in Peru. It’s just £300 to enter a team, so less than £100 each if you get a car full of mates, and compared to similar rallies in less spectacular scenery that’s an absolute steal.
2. The Mongol Rally
While we’re on the subject of Banger Rallies, we have to mention The Mongol Rally. This year is its 10th anniversary taking cars barely suitable for your nan’s grocery run across a third of the Earth’s surface, and with around 150 teams entering it is surely a contender for ultimate budget rally.
I say ‘budget’ rather than ‘banger’ as 10 years of clapped out shitheaps being left to rot in the Gobi Desert got on the Mongolians’ nerves. A 10 year old car limit was introduced, which naturally removed the ‘banger’ element from the rally. The 1-litre(ish) rule still applies to engine size though, so the spirit has not been lost.
Unchanged too is the ‘un-route’ which allows entrants to take whatever course they wish, in whatever time frame they choose, so long as they start in Dover and finish in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. I’m taking part this year in a team called The Mongolaids, and our route takes in most of Eastern Europe, skirting the Black Sea through Ukraine into Russia, South-East through Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan before heading on into Mongolia.
Entry is £980 per team, and when you factor in the cost of your car, accomodation, Visas and other bits and bobs it certainly ain’t cheap. But hey, it’s for charity, so it’s all worthwhile.
3. Peking to Paris
If you like the idea of The Mongol Rally but classic cars are your thing, this is the rally for you. This rally begins in Peking, China and pops over The Great Wall into Mongolia before taking an almost identical route in the opposite direction until you hit Paris, France.
Peking to Paris entrants must have a car registered before 1975, which makes for some incredible scenes as vintage motors kick up desert sand and negotiate mountain passes. Checking out the participating motors for this year’s event throws up fascinating vehicles such as a 1913 Model T Ford, a 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom and a Nissan Fairlady 240 Z.
This is the ultimate hardcore rally. Originally called the Paris-Dakar, the rally underwent route changes regularly until terrorists murdered spectators in Mauritania in 2007. Cancelled in 2008, the event then returned in South America as the Dakar. This year’s event took in Peru, Argentina and Chile, while 2014′s rally begins in Argentina and heads North into the hills of Bolivia before heading South through Chile to Valparaiso.
The rally is an epic spectacle of rally driving across some of the most challenging terrains known to man by the most talented drivers on the planet. The likes of Ari Vatanen, Carlos Sainz and Jacky Ickx (ask your Dad) have won stages here. What makes the rally fascinating, though, is that cars, motorbikes, quad-bikes and trucks all compete on the same routes.
Sound out of the reach of us mere mortals? Well you’ll be interested to learn that 80% of all competitors are amateur, so if you’ve got about $100,000 burning a hole in your pocket we can’t think of any better way to spend it.
5. 24 Hours of LeMons
This race is basically Le Mans for bangers. The rules are simple – your car must cost less than $500. Once you’ve got your car and it’s suitably race prepped you’re good to hit the track with literally 100+ other teams. At times the racing is like negotiating the M1 at rush hour. At speed. You’ll be overtaking someone deep into a corner while someone else overtakes you, while they defend their position from someone else before it all happens again at the next corner.
The emphasis here is on fun, with cars receiving penalty points if they’re not shit enough, and drivers forced to complete silly tasks as punishment for crap driving. Most cars are themed and/or ghetto rigged beyond belief, with one of the more notable examples being a converted plane. Seriously.
Entry is $500 per car and $100 per driver, but many teams rent out seats which is ideal if you just fancy a one-off foray into the world of LeMons.
6. Gumball 3000
If you do have a ton of cash but getting dirty, dusty and not showering for a week doesn’t appeal to you, may we present the Gumball 3000. Countless television cameras follow the cars as they take over cities, wind up local cops and party like there’s no tomorrow.
This year’s rally takes place at the end of May, beginning in Copenhagen, Denmark and finishing at the Monaco Grand Prix. As with every other year a number of celebrities are out flashing their cash, but this year’s event will no doubt be all about Team Galag’s Batman Tumbler. Weighing 2.5 tonnes and wider than a truck; this thing is going to be unbelievable.
2013′s entry fee was £30,000 for a car with 2 occupants, and included in the price is a stay in a top hotel each night. This year’s special 15th anniversary event also includes hospitality at the Monaco Grand Prix all weekend, so it’s almost a bargain. Almost.
So go on then guys, which rally gets your thumbs up?