Auto Racing

The 10 Most Extreme and Dangerous Motor Races In The World Source:

If you thought racing cars only involved driving around a loop repetitively, think again. Many of the world’s top car and motorcycle races involve difficult terrain, extreme conditions and incredible endurance. Race car drivers from around the globe test themselves in some of the most inhospitable environments—pushing their vehicle, and themselves, to the limit in the process. These are races that are truly grueling and have to be seen to be believed. Here is a list of the 10 most extreme car and motorcycle races in the world today.

10. The King of the Hammers Race

King of the Hammers is an off-road desert race held each February in Johnson Valley, California. And it is about as tough a race as there is in the United States. More than 400 teams and 30,000 spectators come out each year for this event, which sees Ultra 4 desert runner vehicles drive across harsh off-road terrain and also crawl across large rocks and boulders. Founded in 2007, this race has been known to leave more than a few cars on the side of the track with blown tires and busted axles. The cars used in this race travel at speeds of more than 100 miles an hour and use modified V8 engines that can produce 800 horsepower, as well as 40 inch tires with beadlock wheels. Competitors must complete the 165 mile course in less than 14 hours or be disqualified. Source:

9. The Rainforest Challenge

When it comes to 4×4 racing, few races are as grueling as the Rainforest Challenge. This is a six day race through Malaysia’s jungles using 4×4 jeeps and off-road vehicles. Along the way, competitors have to contend with dense jungle vegetation, mud, monsoon rains, raging rivers, snakes and other jungle animals. Founded in 1997, this race’s motto is, appropriately, “Survival of the Fittest.” The race is purposely scheduled each year during Malaysia’s monsoon season, and drivers have to be as mentally tough as they are physically tough for this race. Did we mention that the race course runs over slippery hills, into deep gullies, across overflowing rivers and on the edges of muddy cliffs? Oh, and most years there is at least one landslide that takes out some of the contestants. It has taken some competitors as long as 10 days to complete this race. This is one event that is not for the faint of heart. Source:

8. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Speaking of challenging, how about a high speed race through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the highest peak? That’s what you get with the highly competitive, super dangerous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Also known as “The Race to the Clouds,” this is an annual automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak, which is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains in North America. Held each year since 1916, this race is notorious for sending fire-engulfed cars tumbling down the side of the Rockies. The track for this race is only 12 miles long, but it includes 156 turns and involves climbing nearly 5,000 feet of elevation to reach the summit. Until 2011, the track was mostly made of gravel. However, now the entire thing is paved, which was supposed to make the treacherous race safer. Yet most people involved with this event claim it is more dangerous now that the track has been paved since drivers go at faster speeds than ever before. Source:

7. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is a motorcycle race that has been held each June on the Isle of Man since 1907. To say that this race is dangerous would be an understatement. Over the years, this event has claimed the lives of 239 motorcycle riders, giving it claim to the most deadly race in the world. Yet despite the danger, motorcycle enthusiasts continue to run the race on ever faster bikes—some of which are equipped with sidecars. The race itself is in the format of a time trial, and is held on a street course with competitors starting the race individually 10 seconds apart from each other. Despite the dangers associated with this race, there is a ‘seniors’ category for the event. Totally crazy. Source:

6. 24 Hours of Le Mans

Races don’t come much more famous than the 24 Hours of Le Mans, held annually in France. A grueling endurance competition, Le Mans is often called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency” by people in the racing world. Held each year since 1924, Le Mans is known as one leg of the Triple Crown of Motorsport—the others being the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. The 24 Hours of Le Mans runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe in the town of Le Mans, France, and the course is comprised of a mix of closed public roads and specialist racing circuits. Teams that participate have to balance speed with their car’s ability to race for 24 hours without suffering a mechanical breakdown. With fatigue a factor, there have been many accidents and deaths at Le Mans over the years. The worst incident occurred in 1955 when more than 80 spectators and driver Pierre Levegh were killed in a single crash. Source:

5. The 24 Hours Nürburgring Race

The 24 Hours Nürburgring Race is another endurance race held over 24 hours in central Germany each year. It involves touring cars and has been held since 1970 on a track that is more than 25 kilometers long. The length of each lap enables 210 qualifying cars to participate in this race each year. This race can be particularly grueling due to the winding track that becomes quite treacherous as drivers become fatigued and begin crashing into each other. Most cars also include more than one driver, adding to even more carnage when a crash inevitably happens. Billed as Germany’s premier motorsport event each year, this race attracts drivers from around the world despite the danger involved. Source:

4. East African Safari Rally

Few things on this Earth are as extreme as racing across the African safari. Yet that is exactly what people do who participate in the annual East African Safari Rally, a race that features more than 1,000 kilometers of timed stages, with each stage being more than 60 kilometers in length. Known to most drivers as simply the Safari Rally, this annual race involves long, arduous driving across rough African terrain and searing temperatures. This is off-road racing taken to the absolute extreme. Contestants have to run through dry desert conditions as well as jungles and flat open plains. The temperatures during the race have been known to climb north of 50 degrees Celsius, leading to many overheated engines and stranded drivers. Known to attract the toughest and roughest off-road racers in the world, this event is truly for people who are crazy. Source:

3. The Dakar Rally

Arguably the most widely known of the extreme car races in the world, the Dakar Rally used to be known as the Paris-Dakar Rally since the race stretched from the French capital to the capital city of Senegal in Dakar. However, that event was deemed to be too dangerous and was transferred to South America, where it is held today. The ultimate off-road endurance race, drivers in the Dakar Rally have been known to succumb to heart attacks while racing over the extremely rough terrain. Competitors must cross dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, and pass through caverns as they travel more than 500 miles each day during the course of the race. This event even caused an international incident back in 1982 when Mark Thatcher, son of then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, went missing for six days while competing in the Dakar Rally. Mark Thatcher and his co-driver were eventually found safe and sound, but not before Prime Minister Thatcher weighed in to disparage this race and those who participate in it. Source:

2. The Erzberg Rodeo

How difficult is the Ezberg Rodeo? Of the 500 people who entered the motorcycle race in 2011, only nine of them finished it. Held each June since 1995, the Ezberg Rodeo is a motorcycle race in the Austrian Alps that requires participants to race up the side of a working mine. Each year, about 1,500 riders qualify for the competition and about 500 people actually participate in the race. However, only about a dozen people ever actually finish. The issue is the slope that the motorcycle riders travel up in the race. It is extremely steep and difficult to get up at high speeds. Motorcycles in this race, which is sponsored by Red Bull, routinely flip over and land on the drivers. This leads to a lot of mishaps and ambulance rides down the mountainside. Still, the Ezberg Rodeo is more popular today than ever before, with competitors from 40 different countries taking part each year. Source:

1. The Baja 1000

Ominous, dangerous, unforgiving and cruel. These are just a few of the words that are used to describe the Baja 1000, an extreme endurance race that requires people to race more than 1,000 miles through the Mexican desert. An off-road race that takes place in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, this annual event is distinguished by the fact that it allows various types of vehicles to compete on the same course, including motorcycles, stock cars, dune buggies, trucks and custom race cars. Oh, and spectators booby trap the course each year. Acts of blatant sabotage include digging holes and pits, blocking river flow and burying dangerous obstacles for vehicles to run into. Many spectators will also build jumps and ramps for cars to unexpectedly fly over—all for their personal amusement, of course. Racers are rightly warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it could indicate that hidden traps have been laid down on the course. Organizers of the Baja 1000 claim that the traps add to the race’s charms. Yeah, right. Source: YouTube
Jack Sackman

Jack Sackman

Jack Sackman has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2013.