Through the dunes; Dakar style Sonora Rally

Mar 8, 2016 by Richard Scott

Have you driven the coastal highway west out of Peñasco? The occasional glimpse of ocean to your left is overwhelmed by a growing sea of sand on the passenger side. It’s just you and the tunes on your radio heading into what looks more like North Africa than the outskirts of Yuma.

This is the edge of the largest dune field in all of North America. Up north, the Rio Colorado begins eroding rock all along it’s length. Carrying tons of sand, the river makes its way south. At its mouth in far off Mexico, it all gets deposited. Thousands of years of blowing wind have built undulating waves of this powdery sand from extreme Southern California, to the remote western border of the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve.

These Sahara like conditions inspired Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to come here. Extreme off road racers, they found conditions strikingly similar to their experiences in the Dakar Rally, making it just the right place for their own event. On April 3rd through 7th, 2016, the flag drops on the second Sonora Rally, sending 40 racers into the wilds with one hand on the wheel, the other on a compass.

The race begins near San Luis Rio Colorado, with the finish line close to Rocky Point. Up to the last minute, the course remains secret. This will keep anyone from gaining the upper hand by pre-running the route. Driver are handed a book with course directions, and are expected to navigate the old fashioned way. No GPS involved. Vehicles will carry a tracking device though, just in case.

Quads, motos, trucks, jeeps, and more will participate. This event will be an extreme test of skill and self reliance, as drivers literally set off into the unknown. Interested? You can find out more about the 2016 Sonora Rally at their webpage, www.sonorarally.com

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