In a few short years the Mongol Rally has become a modern legend, one of the truly great exercises in human ambition and vehicular perseverance. You, faithful Jalopnik reader, have been personally invited to participate for 2012.
First run in 2004 by six teams (four actually made it all the way), the Mongol Rally — a ten-thousand-mile jaunt from London to Ulan Bator in tiny cars, via no set route, often via no real roads, for charity — is the sort of thing that most civilized folk claim to find absolutely ridiculous as they turn back to their spreadsheets in their cubicle and sip K-Cup coffee while patiently awaiting their next annual review and cholesterol test.
On the other hand, some of us realize instantly that this is the sort of brazen lunacy that we have been wanting to do our entire lives if only we could figure out to do it in the first place. For the enlightened vagabonds in this second camp, The Adventurists — the group of high-minded bon vivants that somehow manage to organize this and a few related events each year without multiple fatalities — have sent us a love letter of a visual sampler to further dampen the innate human survival instinct. Regular features of the Rally include nomads herding pack animals, damaged bodywork, unearthly scenery, Cyrillic alphabets, scary (or no) bridges, many maps and multilingual conversations about same, and synchronized scooter mounting (formalwear category).
If you aren't double-checking your passport expiration date at this point, you are dead to us. And possibly dead anyway.
The full set of rules are on their website. There aren't many; this isn't F1, and excessive sanctioning would miss the point entirely. Some considerations to have in mind as you prepare:
- Cars must have engines under 1200cc and be less than ten years old. Yes, tinny little European or Japanese granny cars and flower vans. As you can see from the video, modifications are permitted.
- If that's too safe and practical, there's another option: Like the Paris-Dakar, you can also run a motorcycle. Maximum 125cc displacement. Teams of two bikes preferred, but not necessary.
- Entry fee is about $1,150 as of this morning, half that if you're insane enough to run as a single-bike team.
- This is a charity event, so in addition to the entry fee and expenses and the cost of suitable wheels you have to do a bit of good-hearted fundraising.
- Yes, this is ridiculously dangerous. You will be traveling through some of the most remote and ungentrified places on Earth without ready access to doctors, mechanics, hotels, supermarkets, therapists or Starbucks. Teams get hugely lost, cars break, people get shot at. Your iPhone will not get a decent signal. If you insist on cold alcoholic drinks and clean sheets at the end of the day, the Gumball 3000 may still have available entries. This isn't that. Thank God.
- Limited space available. So don't just sit there
The rally starts with a huge party at Goodwood on July 13th. Raphael and I are already comparing notes for a suitable ride and preparing our sponsorship pitches.