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Knobby tires meet sleep deprivation in a sea of sand

Peril and the Prize: The Dakar Rally

While the vast majority of race-hungry viewers across the country watch NASCAR, Indy and the American Le Mans Series, a race of an altogether different kind occurs on another continent — and both death and destruction are almost guaranteed. That race is the Dakar Rally (a.k.a., the Paris-Dakar Rally), where professionals and amateurs alike venture out into the treacherous unknown in all manner of vehicles to see if they can claim the coveted title of one of the most skilled and hard-as-nails drivers the world has ever seen. There’s little in the way of tarmac to plant your tires on in this rally bonkers off-road endurance race that pits man and vehicle against mile upon mile of wheel-swallowing sand, water, dirt and rocks. And if you make the mistake of thinking it’s just about driving fast, you might as well stick to your barcalounger and bouts of Gran Turismo 5 in the safety of your parents’ basement.