Last year, Rich, one of my close friends, told me he wanted to do the Mongol Rally – A semi organised jaunt run by a group called ‘The Adventurists’ that consists of purchasing a beaten up little car in England and driving it all the way across Eastern Europe and through Central Asia. Of course, I was interested…. But, we needed to practice first and there the concept of the Mongrol Rally was born.
The Mongrol Rally is an unsanctioned race that sees cars race over 200kms along deserted logging roads in one of Canada’s harshest, wettest regions with no cell signal and without breaking any (too many) laws.
- Racers must not spend more than $500 on the purchase of a car.
- Racers must not spend more than an additional $500 on modifications to their vehicles
- The car must be legally able to drive on the road.
- The car must pass a break test and safety inspection.
- All racers must wear protective gear
- Racers must respect other cars on the road.
Rich and I have been friends for a long time, like flipping cars, and are pretty good at finding the best deals so, the journey began.
First, I had found a Subaru Outback (2003 with 460,000kms on it). Without hesitation, I bought the car and we were race ready. Fast and efficient, I thought this would be the chariot to take us to the top of the podium. However, a little over a month ago, Rich found us the dream machine. She was a 1979 Mercedes 300 SD Turbo Diesel with a huge lift kit 31” tires and a body that wouldn’t quit. It looked like the car that every great dictator would have flaunted in the 70’s…. only about 8” taller…. It might be more like the car the dictators used to flee to the woods when things went sideways…. Anyway, back on topic. We had a car!
A little TLC and our Benz was ready for the road. Only $600 in (car + upgrades) we thought we had the most capable vehicle on the line.
Race day fast approaches and we obviously had to help our fellow competitors spruce up their rides.
The night before the race, all of the racers met at an undisclosed location to drink, camp and talk smak. It was cool to see that everyone was prepared with their Emei Dry Bags and coolers. Good thing too, it was a long night of rain and most of the vehicles had no windows so bears and wet clothes could have been a serious issue! Like the prepared folks we are, most of the crew ended up sleeping under a tarp on the homemade awning our Benz had custom fabricated (prior to our time).
On the day of the race, everybody looked fierce. We had breakfast at a local establishment and shortly after, the flag dropped. The whole town was watching, taking photos and anxiously waiting for us to get the f*ck out of their town.
At the first corner, we hit one of the other competitors in a chop top explorer. This lost us our spare tire and some serious time! About a kilometre later, one of the other racers (1990 Caddy) blew a tire. Since there’s no man left behind, we all stopped (using the bumpers of our cars) to help.
Back on the road, the race ended early for the Benz. 30kms into the race, the piece connecting the car to our front right tire bent, leaving our poor Benz in rough shape. After 2 hours of wrenching with the safety car (a truck that follows to make sure nobody gets hurt) we were back on the road!
….Within 400 meters the wheel comes flying off and despite driving another 5kms on 3 wheels… we were toast….. The Benz was not going to finish.
At the finish line, only two vehicles made it. The Explorer “Exploder” that we helped chop the top off and viciously rear-ended at the beginning of the race and a 2001 Kia (race winner).
Covered in dirt and with barely a panel without a dent, the two cars finished in record time. 6 hours later…. Rich and I, with the help of the Safety car, made it out of the bush alive… but without our beloved Benz.
We had an amazing time AND our beers were cold the whole time and none of our gear had a drop of rain on it!
All cars used in this race were recycled and a very well deserving charity received a nice little donation from the proceeds of the race.