As I write this I’m sat on the Isle of Mull, Tuesday evening after Andy Mort tragically lost his life on the Saturday afternoon Leg of the Mull Rally…
I have mixed emotions.
The Mull Rally is called by many the best rally in the world and to many it probably is.
To me it is a rally I travel over 500 miles to marshal on every year and I have done so since 1997. I have missed a couple of years for different reasons including 2014 when I’d travelled to the island to marry my now wife (and couldn’t return a month later to marshal) so the island is a special place for us both.
Rallying is a massive part of my life. I have devoted 20 years to it as a marshal, competitor and organiser. I was fortunate enough to meet my wife through motorsport, I love rallying…
So that said, when there is a death you start to look and think about what you do, and how it affects those around you. Since the accident I’ve had a chat with my wife about the risks. I think for the first time for her it’s seemed real, but I don’t think she can, or would, ask me to stop. For me to stop would be to take away a big part of who I am.
I am a Rally Co-driver first and an IT Manager second or third or fourth, IT pays the bills and rallying gives me a reason for being. I love this sport.
Motorsport is a hard mistress; she takes your money and your time. She can steal your relationships and can ultimately take your life, but the good times are the greatest. You make wonderful relationships in and out of the car; rally people are genuine people, a true community in every sense. You visit some wonderful locations, even if you are just speeding through them.
So are the risks worth it?
If you were to look at it sensibly then no, doing a sport that could cost you your health or life is not worth it, but then competing in rallying can make you feel alive and you need to feel alive to know you are.
There are so many more dangerous pastimes, or seem to be to those of us on the outside but they, like us in motorsport, take precautions so that they can enjoy their hobby time and time again.
In motorsport we sit in a tin (or glass fiber) can, surrounded by a roll-cage, wearing fireproof overalls and a crash helmet, and from 2016 our necks will be looked after with the enforced introduction of frontal head restraints (HANS). At the start of every stage we have a Doctor or Paramedic and a fully trained rescue team present. What other sport provides you with such comprehensive safety cover?
Yes the sport could be safer still, and probably will be as things develop but it can never be 100% and in my opinion it shouldn’t be, as you need an element of danger to make you feel alive.
But how do we make those that are not in the sport and who believe that they need to look after others wellbeing understand this? You can’t, what you need to do is work with them and look for compromises where possible.
How do we make our love ones understand that we need to undertake this sport and the risks involved? I don’t know, that’s an individual task and each loved one is different and has different levels of comprehension.
On the Monday after John and Andy’s accident I felt compelled to visit the site of the accident, firstly to pay my respects to Andy but also to try and make sense of the accident, and I believe I have done that. I think I know why the accident happened, but what I don’t know yet it is why Andy died and I now wait the report so I can understand why our mistress decided to take his life so soon.
As I said at the beginning I’ve been fortunate to have been in the sport of rallying for 20 years, in that time I’ve had a few accidents and unfortunately broken a few bones (fingers) and have a neck that a Doctor described as being older than the rest of me, but I have not had serious injury and I hope that continues.
There are no guarantees in life, I could have equally have hurt myself crossing the road or driving to work, but I wouldn’t have the memories or friendships that I’ve got now, and maybe not the wife I have either.