The Paris / Dakar Auto Rally, near Iquieque, Chile
Travis, Alan, Margaret Thatcher faced £1,789 bill for operation to find son in Sahara, The Guardian, 27 December 2012.
Travis recounts how in 1982, the then 28 year old son of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher “went missing for six days in the Sahara when he took part in the Paris-Dakar rally.” Mark Thatcher began the race in Paris driving a Peugeot 504, accompanied by a female co-driver and a mechanic. The car broke down in the desert “250 miles from the Algerian oasis city of Tamanrasset.” Race organizers as well as the French and Algerian government launched an exhaustive search to find Thatcher, employing the help of four Algerian planes, three French aircrafts, and a helicopter to scour the terrain. All three participants, including Thatcher were found “alive and well” after six days.
Throughout the ordeal, Prime Minister Thatcher received messages of support from other world leaders. Travis reports that President Ronald Reagan sent the message, “Our hearts are with you" to which Prime minister Thatcher responded, "Thanks for phoning Ron. Love to Nancy."
Prime Minister Thatcher personally paid the £1,789 bill for the cost of the search, saying, “We can therefore say that no extra cost has fallen on the British taxpayer. To who do I make out the cheque?"
Schemm, Paul, Bin Laden Son Wants to Be Peace Activist, USA Today, 18 January 2008.
Following terrorist threats from Al-Qaida in in Mauritania, the Paris Dakar auto rally announced a change in venue in 2009 from Europe and Africa to South America. Schemm reports that in its absence Omar Osama bin Laden, the son of then al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, created an alternative long distance horse race. Bin Laden said he wanted to bring attention to northern Africa and raise money for child victims of war through sponsorship of the race.
Bin Laden, who has never renounced his father publicly, has stated the need for a non-militant defense of Islam, saying he would like to be an "ambassador for peace” and “draw attention to the cause of peace” with his new 3,000 mile horse race.
When asked about security concerns Bin Laden referenced the Paris / Dakar Rally saying “I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida…I don't think they are going to stop me.”