While the name 80DR might not sound too familiar yet, its aim, racing electric vehicles (EV) around the world in 80 days, is taking shape. In fact, it will go to the start line in Paris, France, in June 2020.
80 Days Around The World In An EV
It all happened one lazy evening when Jenny and Frank were watching Around the World in 80 Days, the movie inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel. That was the beginning of the 80DR story. Frank told me:
“EV mass production was underway, so why not have a clean race around the world to showcase the technology and push the development of sustainable mobility? We asked for feedback and we will be launching the start of the 80 Day Race in Paris next year. …
“We started from a dream of wild adventures and imagined the race. Today, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, France, is excited to start the competition from there on June 13, 2020.”
Viva Technology will be the first host partner of the first edition of the 80 Day Race. The expected audience is around 125,000, with ~2,500 journalists. CleanTechnica will do its best to cover the start of the race there.
I asked Frank, “Why a race around the world, especially in an EV.” He said motorsport pushed mobility and along the way cemented legendary car brands and drivers. The old adage of “Win races on Sunday and drive to work on Monday” has always worked well for the automotive industry. However, the transition towards sustainable mobility means we need to see more electric mobility sports. It is slowly happening.
The first 80DR teams registered are working hard to meet the daunting challenges for next June. Jenny and Frank are busy planning activities around the stops and arranging ocean crossing logistics.
Frank mentioned one of the first and most spectacular long-distance races as motivation. The Peking (Beijing) to Paris (1907) race and then New York to Paris (1908) were not for the faint of heart. Importantly, they showed the world continents could be linked physically with new technological possibilities. Today, we need more heroes and out-of-the-box thinkers to push this (re)new(ed) technology everywhere. This is what 80DR stands for, a mobility future free of emissions.
On a personal note, Frank was only 12 when he saw the Paris–Dakar rally on TV. He drove part of the route in the family’s old Land Rover at 19. Later, when he got together with a group of friends, they decided on another Sahara crossing. Frank says these adventures push you out of your comfort zone, and by visiting other cultures, they help us appreciate everything more. They teach us to be more tolerant of others, and this rally was a heck of a self-discovery mode.
80DR has received a lot of enthusiasm. The list of ambassadors hints at the broader response. In fact, one of his Paris–Dakar childhood heroes, 3-time winner and 10-year CEO of the Dakar Rally, was Hubert Auriol (mine as well) and he has become an ambassador. Frank says: “Auriol lives and breathes adventure!” Frank asked him to join 80DR and Auriol’s response was, “You are mad! I like it.” Auriol loves the idea of pushing mobility to a sustainable future through racing.
See Hubert’s ambassador video below, shot at the Place du Trocadero in Paris. This is where the very first Paris–Dakar rally started. I lived a few blocks away from it at the time. This symbolic introduction says it all.
Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, who is one of the Le Mans 24-hour race organizers, also supports 80RR. He shares our belief that motorsport should be a service to society, a development platform for bringing new innovations to the general public so that mobility will become safer, better, and more environmentally friendly.
Finally, 80DR received a prestigious award from TEDx Amsterdam: The “ideas worth doing” award. This is not only the biggest TEDx event in the Netherlands, but also a sincere honor to be recognized so early in the race — pun intended.
Which leads us to now. Team registrations opened a while back and we have challengers from France, the US, the UK, and even Bangladesh. Next, we need more participants, especially in Asia.
I’ve been communicating with Frank for many months and see his unbridled EV racing enthusiasm. Yes, there are a few EV races already, but none as technically challenging as a global EV race. The only challenge after that will be to have one vehicle handle roads, water, and air. But that’s another adventure, right Frank?
Note: I plan on becoming an ambassador for the 80DR event.