THE FILTHIEST RACE IN THE VERSE
If you know anything about racing, you know it's dirty. It always has been, and it always will be. It's a realm where technology and human ability are pushed to the absolute limit, often for only the barest of advantages -- and at the same time, limiting factors like physics, rules, and even ethics get twisted and mangled, all in the pursuit of glorious, delicious victory.
If you have any doubt to this all-encompassing truth of racing, all you have to do is look at the old lore of Earth, where some branches of racing developed from competitions between suped-up smugglers' cars versus ever more powerful ones police used to chase them. Every racing engineer became an expert at duplicity - some even hollowed out and compromised the roll cages in their drivers' cars, in order to conceal the machinery and weight of speed-enhancing nitrous oxide boosts, which were illegal in most racing at the time. Even direct confrontation had a part in the earliest races: "He didn't hit you, he rubbed you," the old adage went. "And rubbing's racing."
With this in mind, some races just continue to stand out - and the Daymar Rally is one of them. Everyone knows it's "The filthiest race in the Verse," and everyone I asked seemed absolutely convinced they knew precisely why.
One response to the question noted that the question had already been answered, noting the dangers of guerrilla ambushes by raiders & pirates along the course, particularly on the long, lonely stretch between Eager Flats and Wolf Point. It's true, too, the reputation of the area as a race-training nexus means attacks are common even now, more than a decade after the last official running of the race. Few that I've talked to didn't have a story about a bogey Hornet or Cutlass appearing over the rocks and peppering them with gunfire as they tried to race for cover. The problem is, this on its own doesn't set the Daymar Rally apart from other races - live-fire racing has been a staple of the UEE for centuries, and most of that is due more to the need for racers to defend themselves, rather than to gain an edge over competitors, though certainly firefights between known racers only add to the excitement.
Other respondents pointed, quite rightly, to the mineral content of Daymar -- in particular, its atmosphere. It's a moon well known for mining concerns, with the killer combination of (A) atmosphere thick enough to cause weather conditions, and (B) a poor, but present, suitability for life. The result is that orange Daymar Dust that we all know and love - the stuff that clings to our helmet visors, fouls our re-breathers with that dry, gritty taste, and clogs just about every intake, exhaust, joint, and moving part you can imagine it affecting, and another dozen that you thought you had sealed off well enough. But you didn't. And that happens to be the ONE piece that you don't have a replacement for in the kit, so you've got to call down your chaser and rush through a field replacement, while you watch your lead shrink from hours to minutes to nothing.
Conditions like these are part and parcel for much of the Rally community, though - in fact, in many forms of Rally racing, the course itself is the main adversary, as the winners and losers are determined by their timed efforts, rather than a single winner out of a big group. And before you ask, the precedent of a race being dangerous for the combination of both rough terrain and hostiles on the path has also been set - Mexicali and even the legendary Dakkar itself rivaled the Daymar Rally in both categories. Neither of those races remains in existence, though -Daymar competes with their legends, but Daymar is a race resurrected.
I think the truth of Daymar being the Filthiest Race In the Verse is not just a combination of these elements, but the addition of its questionable history of sponsorship, as well. One might think that a massive corporate powerhouse like Shubin Interstellar wouldn't have any stake in a thing like the Daymar Rally, but as we've seen before and will see again, the politics of technology creep up in the most unusual places. In truth, racing has always been one of the ways that companies have been able to showcase their technology and prestige, outside of the military-contract world, where Anvil and Aegis tend to reign supreme. That's why it's no surprise that major civilian tech companies -- like Origin Jumpworks, Consolidated Outland, and now even MISC -- promote racers at the cutting edge of what ships can do.
Behind the vehicle makers themselves, there are countless others - WillsOp, Hammer Propulsion, KDK, dozens of specialists in ship components, right up to giants like MicroTech and, you guessed it, Shubin Interstellar. In some cases, that vested interest is just in ubiquity, like having the Big Benny's logo on a winning racer or knowing the course begins at a Shubin facility. In others, though, it gets darker. Racing is a way to show the superiority of a new innovation, but it's also a way to discredit, sabotage, or even outright steal the secrets of a rival. And it's a scandal along those lines that made Shubin Interstellar want to distance itself from the Daymar Rally, and almost shut it down for good.
At the end of the day, everything all runs together. The Daymar Rally has everything that adds shade, salt, and grit to the racing world: A high-speed, long-distance run across jagged rocks and through blinding, choking dust. A course where live-fire is a way of life, as much for survival as for victory. Pirates and troublemakers causing trouble from the outside, while corporate intrigue smolders within. Mix it all together, and you've got the Filthiest Race In the Verse.
See you out there,
*Image by Corsair62