It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, not ever, but especially not on the very first stage of the very first rally in a new era. This wasn’t the Rallye Monte Carlo that anyone wanted, not the organizers, not the teams, not the broadcasters, not the fans, and most of all, not the individual who tragically lost his life last night. Since the terrible news broke, I have been wrestling with how to address it on this blog, if I should even address it at all. I’ll be honest, it would be so much easier to just let this dark moment pass by. It would be so much easier to move on with business as usual, because I’m not sure what to think, feel, or say. That’s the safe and easy option… to not write anything at all. However, just because something is difficult to address is not an excuse to ignore it. Here on World Rally Blog, we have tried our best to share our thoughts and feelings about the world of rallying with you. We’ve tried to be an open forum where people feel comfortable to share their ideas and opinions about the sport. When we think something is funny, exciting, frustrating, annoying, ridiculous… whatever… we have shared our thoughts with you and encouraged you to share our thoughts with us. So here we are in a very dark chapter of the WRC, and I think that we owe it to you, the rallying family, to write a few words about what has transpired over the past 24 hours.
The very first thing that needs to be said is that our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family members of the person who lost his life last night. No matter what we as enthusiasts of the sport are feeling right now, it pales in comparison to what his loved ones are thinking and feeling today. Let’s not forget that in the midst of all of the confusing emotions that we are experiencing, there are people who are hurting very much this morning. It also needs to be said that we apologize for some of the things that have been written and said about your loved one over the past 24 hours. We’re sorry that in the heat of the moment, some very judgmental and hurtful things were said about your friend and family member, who at the end of the day is a part of the rally family just like the rest of us.
I want to take a moment to address some of the things that we are thinking and feeling as people who love the sport of rallying. If we’re honest with ourselves, it is probably a huge range of emotions that include shock, disbelief, sadness, frustration, confusion, uncertainty, and the list goes on and on. I think that there are three ways that we can direct these feelings. One is to ignore them, stuff them down, and just move on. Another is to put them out there indiscriminately for everyone to see. Neither one of these options are very helpful or beneficial to ourselves or the rallying family as a whole. However, I believe that there is a third option available. That is to acknowledge those feelings and take a few moments of quiet introspection to understand what and where they are coming from. We can’t un-feel things just like we can’t undo what happened last night, but if we take a moment to try to understand these feelings in the proper perspective, it will help us move forward. Yes, our loss of an exciting and happy start to the 2017 season pale in comparison to what others are experiencing right now. However, it is loss nonetheless, and we are allowed to feel sadness because of this. Our uncertainty about what last night’s events might mean for the future of our sport are legitimate, and it’s OK to feel concern, but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. We shouldn’t guilt ourselves out of feeling these things, but at the same time, let’s understand that it’s all about perspective.
Now comes the difficult part. I am not going to use these events as a pulpit to preach the dogma of rally spectator safety. Now is just not the time for that. This person made a mistake, as all of us have from time to time in our lives, and unfortunately, that mistake had very severe consequences. Let’s leave it at that. Now is not the time to get up on our rallying “moral high ground” and spew opinions about “real” vs. “fake” or “smart” vs. “dumb” spectators. However, if there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it is that we don’t every want to feel this way again when watching a rally. With that in mind, rather than directing all of these negative feelings outward, let’s take a long hard look at ourselves and what we can do on an individual basis to make sure that this the last time something like this ever happens. It could be something as simple as thinking just a little bit harder about where we stand even when we think we’re in a safe place. It could also be making a commitment to serve as a marshal at your local rally to help others enjoy the sport safely. Whatever it is, as a rallying family, let’s not forget the way that we feel right now and channel that into a stronger effort to never have to feel that way again.
We’re going to leave the comments section open on this article, but please, please, from the bottom of my heart, have a good think about what you are going to write before you do. If things get out of hand, we will intervene, but we trust you to post responsibly, and we want to give you the opportunity to do so.
Here’s to a safe and exciting remainder of the 2017 season.