Have you ever wondered about the history of rally racing? The rally didn’t start with the first Dakar in 1979. Euro rally racing existed long before that, and even desert racing had been around for decades, by that time.
Take this video footage of the 1969 Safari Rally, then known as the East African Safari Rally (which appears to have been designed as some sort of Ford marketing material decades ago).
At that time, the event had been around since 1953. It wasn’t the dunes business that the Dakar is now, but back then, even the Dakar itself was a very different race in its early days. years.
While the Dakar has featured motorcycles since day one, the Safari Rally was all about cars – no motorcycles in these pictures, alas! Compare these pictures from the ’60s to those today, and you will see that the cars they drove were dramatically different. These were production-based machines, beefed up to handle bad roads. They weren’t the bred monstrosities that teams are running now. The Safari was also dominated by African pilots in its early days, unlike current rally and rally raid events, which tend to be dominated by international stars.
It shows the difference decades of technology have made; now, with long-travel suspension, more powerful engines, and lighter cars, racers are able to tackle obstacles and terrain their ’60s counterparts could only dream of.
In the end, however, it all comes down to the same thing: getting the most out of your vehicle, without hitting anything. And from the look of this clip, there were a lot of obstacles to be encountered in 1969, just like rally racing today …