The ultimate road rally: the Pan-American Highway

One of the advantages that motor sport has over other sports is that it can become a part of one’s everyday life. That’s not to say that the football fan can’t go down to the pitch every day after work and kick the ball about, but it’s still very deliberately sport. For anyone who has a car and drives it to work, the sport of driving becomes an every day occurrence. Fortunately the majority of drivers are responsible and reasonable enough not to drive as though they are were in an internationally renown race.

If one thinks about it, those trips to and from work and down to the supermarket all add up and adds to one’s experience behind the wheel, even if it does so in a nearly impossible-to-measure time frame. Nevertheless experience accumulates. For people who have an interest in motor sports that experience is probably also earned by simply going out for drives and possibly racing—but hopefully in designated racing tracks open to the public. As an fan of both rally races and off-roading I’ve often spent time imagining what it would be like to be a rally driver.

While I doubt I’ll ever be a professional driver, that doesn’t mean that I can’t get out on the road and trace some of the big races from across the world. There are untold numbers of races that have my captivation and imagination, but since I’ll never be a professional racer I like to turn my attention to bespoke roadtrips.

My biggest road trip goal would have to be the Pan-American Highway. Its name makes it sound like a single road across the Americas. Although it’s not particularly far off the mark, the truth is that the Pan-American Highway is actually a series of roads and highways—sometime redundant—that connect both North and South America. At 48,000 kilometres that’s a lot of road to cover for the amateur driver! The official version of the road runs from the Arctic Circle in Alaska all the way to the southern tip of Chile.

The idea isn’t original and there are many people who have made the journey before , but a trip of this nature is done not to be the first to do it, but to have the experience to do it. The route that most people take totals about 25 000 kilometres. The terrain and the road quality vary dramatically in each country and having the right car can make or break the trip—in the most literal of senses.

This dream trip is usually not completed in anything under six-months so it probably wouldn’t be like the rallies I enjoy watching, but rather an extended holiday getting to know the nature, culture, and foods of the many countries that fill the Western Hemisphere. It’s right there at the top of my bucket list.