Guest Post: 7 Reasons To Chase The World’s Most Dangerous Motor Race In A Rentcar
If you are one of our Argentinian or Chilean based readers, you may have seen bikes, quads, cars and trucks flying through your garden in the last week. This, we must point out, is not the doing of 7 Reasons. Instead we point you in the direction of the Dakar Rally which is currently winging its way through the deserts of South America. The Dakar Rally is widely acknowledge as both the toughest and most dangerous motor race in the world. You’d think, therefore, that chasing the race in a rentacar – while filming it – is a rather crazy thing to do. Well not if you are Simon Lee. Simon did exactly that this time last year and the result is the film Dream Racer – to be released later this year. Before you head off to the cinema though, let’s find out why Simon did it.
1. Because You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do. I’ve wanted to make a movie like this for so long that when I met Christophe and heard about his dream of finishing the Dakar Rally on his motorbike, I knew I HAD to do it. I couldn’t get a broadcaster to back it, so I couldn’t afford a camera crew, a sound man a producer or any of the usual things you would have on a shoot like this. Ultimately I just thought “sod it, it’s now or never”, clawed together just enough cash to get me there, left my wife in Australia with our 6 week old daughter, flew to Argentina and made a movie.
2. Because Nothing Beats Asking A Hertz Clerk For “A Rentacar To Do The Dakar Rally”. Ok, I wasn’t quite “doing” the Dakar Rally, but I was about to drive 10,000 km across some of the harshest terrain on earth. And I drove it in a 2 wheel drive roller skate with a 1.4 litre engine – a Fiat Sienna.
3. Because The Dakar Is The Greatest Mechanical Show On Earth. Despite having spent the best part of 18 months working on this film project, I’m not actually a big fan of motorsport. That said, there is something extraordinary about watching tons of steel hurtling down sand dunes the size of mountains. It’s particularly exciting when you’re playing “dodge the hurtling tons of steel” whilst filming.
4. Because Real Life Delivers Better Scripts Than You Could Ever Write. When I embarked on the project, I knew that it had potential as a great adventure documentary, but I could never have anticipated just what a roller coaster journey it would turn out to be. 3 weeks before the start of the race, it looked like it wasn’t going to happen, then out of the blue, Christophe empties his bank account and enters. Then he calls up the KTM factory in Austria to arrange payment for the bike he’d ordered, and they’d sold it to someone else! I mean, you wouldn’t write this stuff. Then to do the whole race without even a mechanic, get seriously injured, ride a perfect stage in the desert and still finish the race – this is the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters – just without the multi-million dollar budget.
5. Because There’s A Chilean Radio Station That Plays Non-stop Late Eighties/Early Nineties Hits. Driving interminable miles across the Atacama Desert afforded me ample opportunity to re-live my musical youth. I think I may even have sung out loud to the Soup Dragons “I’m Free”.
6. Because If It’s Easy It’s Probably Not Worth Doing. Making this movie has been one of the hardest things that I have done (and it’s not quite over yet). Everything – from chasing funds, to three draining weeks in South America, to trying to balance the project with being a half decent father and husband as well and keep money coming in to pay the bills – has been bloody hard. But boy did it feel good being there to film Christophe crossing the line, knowing everything we had been through to get there! As you’ll see in the movie, it was a pretty emotional moment…
7. Because Maverick Solo Movies Are Where It’s At. There’s something equally terrifying and exhilarating about going it alone on a project like this. At the end of the day it comes down to raw drive and creativity and the ever-present question of “just how badly do you want this?” I truly hope that this comes through in the film, because ultimately that’s what it’s about – the story of what happens when you stop listening to the excuses conjured up by your rational mind, and act instead on the niggling inner voice that’s urging you to step out and live your dreams.
Dream Racer will be released mid-2011. To view the trailer and follow the progress of the Dream Racer project, join the Dream Racer Facebook group.