The Alcan 5000 Winter Rally is the oldest, longest, and coldest road rally in North America. First run in 1984, it features waypoints including Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse, Alaska; Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon; and Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. The start is in Kirkland (Seattle), Washington, and the finish, 10 days later, is usually Anchorage, Alaska.
I first traveled the all-gravel Alcan in 1964, sharing the experience with my father-in-law, who worked on the 1942-43 construction of the road. Fascinated by going north, especially in the winter, I returned on magazine and commercial assignments whenever possible.
My wife, Suzanne, has shared my ongoing addiction to back roads, dead-end roads, and roads seldom traveled. We drove up the Dempster “Highway” to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. When the Dalton “haul road” opened, we went to Prudhoe/Deadhorse, twice, and then took a ferry to Labrador when the road from Goose Bay, Labrador, west to Quebec was being built.
In 1996 we entered the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally, placing 2nd in class. Running as timers/sweep for summer events and as competitors for winter rallies, we have been on nine Alcan events in 16 years. We always run “Stock,” Seat of the Pants (SOP), and no-studs, and we concentrate on photography and the adventure itself.
|Drive Performance has published two other articles about driving in the far North. The first was about the Alcan Winter Rally nine years ago, and the second had observations about winter driving in the Arctic by Lars Gange.
|Writer/photographer Jim Elder provides another look at extreme driving based on his experiences with the Alcan Rally – both winter and summer.