• May 17, 2010
Despite the best efforts of racing organizations the world over to clean up their image, it's pretty tough to consider any kind of motorsport squeaky clean. Apparently, that's especially true of the recent Dakar rally in South America. Besides the expected burning of fossil fuels and the emissions associated with it, the National Monuments Council (NMC) of Chile reports that the off-road race caused roughly $570,000 (300 million pesos) of damage to 56 of the country's 111 heritage sites.

Further, the NMC says that 13 of those heritage sites suffered from lost archeological data. Apparently, this isn't the first such instance of collateral damage during the Dakar race. Last year, a similar report was filed by the NMC, and the organization is again asking that the rally organizers pay these costs.

For what it's worth, such damage was not unexpected. Late last year, the NMC drafted a detailed report of expected damage to the sites it monitors. Next year, though, the NMC is hoping that its report, which will be completed this August in anticipation of the event early in 2011, will be handed out to rally participants so they know where to tread especially lightly.

[Source: Moto-Net via Motorbiker | Image: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its a bloody desert! What are they going to damage? Sand?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cultural materials (read: Archeological materials) can indeed by lost by "misplacing some gravel". Surface collected materials are exceptionally common and disruption of non-surveyed ground can result in the loss of material.

      With that said, I call BS. As a field archeologist, I know what it takes to survey the area and determine cultural heritage. If they can value the loss of data, then they should have forced organizers to draw stages and race courses around known localities.

      The reality is this, they let them come and race, because they knew they could get a decent paycheck from Dakar if they claimed material was stolen, lost, or destroyed. My guess, they probably don't even know what was there to begin with, because it had never been surveyed and they are just making it up.

      -Rob
      • 4 Years Ago
      If they truly are destroying 'heritage' sites or historical sites (think indian ruins or something) or national park type places, Then perhaps they need to rethink the path the rally takes? Reroute it around such sites and keep spectators off those areas.

      Easy enough. The same thing is done when roads are built through areas that are heavy in native american archeological sites. A team determines where the sites are, what the impact might be and then the road gets planned accordingly to minimize or eliminate damages.

      I don't see why they can't do the same here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      While i tend to be on the environmentalist side of things, I think this is ridiculous.

      It's like hosting a UFC fight in your living room, then freaking out about some blood on the carpet and a busted glass table afterwards

      For things like this, environmentalists will come up with exorbitant $ numbers to dissuade things like this. 570k? no effing way. Looks like a bunch of dirt to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "looks like a bunch of dirt to me"

        And who the heck are you? Let's see that degree that makes you an ecology expert!
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, they aren't. But they are in the business of describing ecosystems. Usually what "looks like a bunch of dirt" to your 16 y/o eyes is actually a lot more complex.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If "those heritage sites suffered from lost archeological data" then how can you put a dollar figure on history is my question. Should it not be priceless as it cannot be recovered now?
      That being said, I love this particularly gruelling race so much so that if I had the money, I would foot the 'environmental bill' each and every time... And participate of course.
      I do agree with the prior comment though (unsure who said it now), referring to the placement of the race. It has been moved so much these past few years, that a little bit more forethought into avoiding historical sites on the path they take could be undertaken.
      Anyone got the money to get me into it one of these years. I've got the skills, just don't have the money!
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should have the race drive through the Atacama next year. There's nothing to "destroy" there, just a bunch of rocks that haven't seen rain for a million years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Chilean government didn't know they'd be racing through these areas? Maybe the money charged for those permits where more than what was lost. Something smells fishy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      yes --- so some dirt got moved around and some grass got destroyed... that's so much worse than all the cocaine and drugs pouring out of the country.

      Priorities -- get some.
      • 4 Years Ago
      570K worth of damage to sand? lmao

      Just another example of how governments use the green agenda to find a way to racketeer some money...
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is the same type of B.S. claim that the "environmentalists" invent to try to make responsible 4-wheelers look bad. Never mind the money that Dakar brought into the country - if one little blade of grass was displaced, they'd create some inflated valuation of the "damage" and blame the vehicles regardless of whether it was a vehicle or a bunny rabbit that was responsible. That's how more and more of our public lands are being locked up away from the taxpaying public.

      As a civilized society, we need to ignore the "green" wackos and follow common sense. The TRUE environmentalists are those who are out there in their vehicles (whether it's casual recreation or hardcore racing) enjoying nature and contributing money and volunteering labor to make the environment healthier and more enjoyable for EVERYONE, not just the holier-than-thou hikers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Have you ever participated in an environmental impact assessment before? Do you have any background in ecology that would allow you to make such insane assertions?

        "Common sense" is finding a balance between human activity and environmental sustainability. If the Darkar Rally brings in revenue for the country and is enjoyed by many then perhaps the damage it causes to the environment can be offset by protecting sites elsewhere or pouring some of that money into restoration projects.

        It's utterly ridiculous to claim that environmentalists aren't environmentalists, just as it is to claim that petrolheads don't care about nature. Try not to be so thickheaded in the future, yeah?

        • 4 Years Ago
        I actually have participated in numerous environmental impact studies as part of volunteer work between 4WD clubs and the U.S. Forest Service projects to clean/manage/upgrade public trails. And yes, I went to college for Forestry and Environmental Science degrees. The bureaucracy is ridiculous and frustrating for those of us who are more concerned with environmental health and public access than litigation and land closure, but I understand where you're coming from since you had no idea what my background is.

        Unfortunately, those of us who volunteer our weekends doing backbreaking manual labor to protect the environment FOR the public are the ones who are most often locked out FROM public land by the "armchair environmentalists" and their lawyers who think the best and/or only option for protecting the environment is locking it up as a Wilderness Area where virtually nobody can access it. As someone who's been neck-deep in this battle for years, it's natural for me to jump to the conclusion I made, but if there is an actual, legitimate claim of environmental damage in Chile, then I'd be really surprised if the Dakar organization wouldn't offer to assist and/or fund whatever restoration projects were needed, just as 4x4 clubs around the world do to protect their own local off-roading areas from "environmentalist" takedown.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Whatever happened to the good old days, sigh.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, what did they think the rally would do? Plant flowers?

      Lame.
    • Load More Comments