When you think of motor racing you probably picture ultra-fast cars lapping around a short circuit for an hour or so before the champagne corks start flying. But did you know there exists a whole other side to the sport — one that tests not just out-and-out speed, but efficiency, distance and driver endurance?
Since the turn of the 20th century motorsport has interested itself with pushing cars to their limits — both in terms of speed, performance and how far they can be driven before breaking down. And that got us thinking — what are the world’s longest ever car races?
Redex Australia Trials
The Redex Australia Trials are reputed to be some of the earliest reliability races in the world, having taken place on a number of occasions between 1953 and 1998. Covering massive distances in an effort to circumnavigate Australia, the trials were hugely popular thanks to the poor condition of the roads at the time, which made for entertaining viewing for spectators. The Redex Trials varied in distance, with the longest covering a staggering 10,500 miles in 1955.
While the Dakar Rally might not be the longest endurance race in the world, it’s certainly one of the toughest. The route is chosen specifically to push cars and their drivers to their limits by covering some of the harshest terrain on Earth. At around 3,000 miles in length, the Dakar Rally comprises of several stages which see racers driving 500 to 600 miles a day, which is impressive given that there’s barely any straight roads along the route.
Around the World in 80 Days Rally
As the longest non-professional endurance race to have ever taken place, the Around the World in 80 Days Rally heads up this list. In 2000, forty-two drivers set out from London on an 18,000-mile, three-month contest in a mix of street-legal cars including everything from Jeeps to Datsuns. Apart from being airlifted from Beijing to Alaska, and from New York to Marrakesh, a handful of entries managed to drive full-circle around the globe.
24 Hours of Le Mans
Having been held annually since 1923, 24 Hours of Le Mans claims the title of the world’s oldest endurance race. Taking place on the prestigious Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans — which is often referred to as the ‘Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency’ — pits competing teams against each other in a battle of speed, performance and efficiency. Unlike other motor races, the winner isn’t the first to cross the line, but the car to cover the longest distance in a 24 hour period without sustaining mechanical damage.
Shell 4000 Rally
Taking place over just seven days, the Shell 4000 Rally was a tough endurance event spanning the width of Canada. With an average distance of around 4,000 miles, the Shell 4000 took place 12 times between 1961 and 1997, and comprised of a number of rally-style stages connected by public roads. Despite taking place just eight times, the Shell 4000 has left a lasting legacy, as it was one of the first races to incorporate vehicle efficiency as well as a simple time and distance contest.
Peking to Paris
The now famous Peking to Paris endurance race brought about a new era of endurance motorsport when it was first held in 1907. Covering a distance of 9,317 miles, the race was said to come about as a result of a challenge published in a Parisian newspaper, which said: “what needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?” Turns out there were forty drivers up for the challenge, and they set off on June 10, arriving back in Paris by August.
If you’re planning a cross-country endurance race or just want to save money at the pumps, Redex fuel additives can help you achieve improved efficiency from your engine and save fuel. To find out more about our products, visit the Redex website.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Alessandro Prada, Jota Ete, Charles McGowan.