Goodwood has seen its fair share of rare cars grace its track, but this Sunday could see the most outrageous gathering of motor vehicles ever seen at the famous race track, as the 14th edition of the legendary Mongol Rally sets off.
Touted as ‘The Greatest motoring adventure on the planet’, The Mongol Rally has been running since 2004, and this year’s edition promises to be the best ever. Finishing in the depths of Siberian Russia, with parties planned on a Romanian beach and a secret location in the Czech Republic along the way. This year’s Rally is set to be the biggest to date, with a total of nearly 950 people taking part, in around 330 vehicles of all shapes and sizes (including the event’s first ever fully electric car). There are a whopping 44 different nationalities represented, including folks from Paraguay, Bosnia, Malaysia, Japan and Chile.
The aim of the rally is simple, travel from Goodwood to Ulan Ude in Russia, with a drive through Mongolia and a few organised ‘pit stops’ along the way - for one couple there’s a particularly important stop at Lake Bled in Slovenia, for their wedding!
There is a slight twist, or two, however. For starters, there’s no backup, no support and no set route; just you, your fellow adventurists and a car; with past teams having travelled as far south as Iran and Pakistan, and others venturing into the Arctic Circle.
The fact you’re likely to get lost and end up in a few sticky spots is all part of the experience though, as The Adventurists, the organisers of the event (and a whole host of other incredible adventures including the iconic Rickshaw Run in India, the World’s longest horse race and the first long distance Paramotor race) explain…
“We believe the world is far too safe and organised, that we’ve come to live in ever decreasing circles of freedom. Fear of litigation, greed and a spineless refusal to take responsibility for ourselves have robbed us of one of the most interesting things in life: the unexpected. The Mongol Rally rails against this. It forces you to be lost, to not know what’s around the next corner, to embrace the unknown.”
The real spanner in the works is the fact you have to do The Rally in the ‘crappest’ vehicle you can find, with any engine size no bigger than 1000cc (you might twist the organisers' arms to allow you 1.2 litres if you find something ‘really special’).
If you think all this sounds a little too silly to be a real adventure, think again. With the Rally travelling around 10,000 miles across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia, the nature of the route and the vehicles used forces participants to really experience the land and cultures they’re travelling through. It’s hard to find another organised event that guarantees adventure and mishap on such an epic scale…
“What would be the point of whizzing through these landscapes at 100 miles an hour in a sterilized 4x4 and not being able to truly experience what they’re all about. There’s nothing like a little mishap in the back end of nowhere to experience something truly memorable.”
Past participants certainly seem to agree…
“Top Mongolian day yesterday - good carriageways, good camels, good cricket, good campfire.”
"Where's the fun in knowing what to do? Speed head-first into the unknown. That's my motto from now on."
“We eventually crossed the border at night, but not before a border guard had proposed to Steph (she said she’ll think about it).”
“Freezing cold camping in the desert wearing all the clothes we own. None of them are clean. Everything is covered in dust, haven’t showered in six days. (Honestly, we stink). Driving at 20km/h on glorified goat tracks. Getting bogged in sand and mud. Two flat tyres, one emergency wheel repair, countless attempts to drive through rivers watched by curious camels. But at least we have Vegemite”
“We’ve been home for 24hrs now. Things still feel a little strange, we find ourselves wondering if we are driving on the right side of the road. We don’t need to barter for our purchase anymore, the supermarket was massive and we didn’t have to pay with crazy money.”
The Rally also gives back to some of the countries and environments it travels through and The Adventurists, through The Mongol Rally and other adventures, have so far raised over eight million pounds for charities worldwide. This year’s participants in the Mongol Rally have already raised £58,000 for Cool Earth (www.coolearth.org), The Adventurists official charity, and tens of thousands more for other charities close to entrants hearts (particularly noteworthy is terminal cancer survivor Adam Alderson raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Steve Prescott Foundation after having survived a 17 hour operation and multiple organ transplants).
To track the teams and keep up to date with their mishaps, head to: tracking.theadventurists.com
For more details or to sign up for next year’s Mongol Rally head to: www.mongolrally.com
This year’s Mongol Rally sets off from Goodwood at 9:30am on Sunday the 16th July. To get an idea of what to expect, head here to have a look at last year’s launch.
Issued by The Adventurists