Yesterday Wyatt Knox shared on Facebook this excerpt from the latest Rally America bulletin banning competitors from speaking less than positively about the organization.
As more and more competitors are getting disgruntled with Rally America’s high expense, lack of support, and the lack of promotion of their events (which makes me wonder why promotion is even mentioned here, since there virtually isn’t any), Rally America seems to think that a gag order on negative comments is the solution rather than fixing the underlying problems.
In fairness, such orders are actually becoming more and more common in sanctioning bodies and race tracks. Indy Car and NASCAR have also implemented similar rules during the past year. On the one hand, as representatives of their product, they don’t want competitors mouthing off about how terrible they are on national TV. But on the other hand, without constructive criticism how is a series supposed to improve? This also takes away the drivers’ option to boycott a stage or event if they deem conditions to be unsafe, which is what happened at Rally Sweden. Doing so could be considered interfering with the national championship and/or local operations, forcing competitors to weigh their event and season standings and the possibility of disqualification against safety considerations.
Meanwhile, NASA Rally Sport participation is growing more than ever, with 83 entries for next week’s Sandblast Rally. Even after taking away the 30 RallyMoto entries, since Rally America doesn’t allow motorcycles, that’s still more than Sno*Drift’s 43 entries. NRS participation seems to be climbing as more people find their more organized, yet relaxed grassroots rally attitude a welcome relief from Rally America’s showcase of big name drivers. They have no rule on the books prohibiting speaking out against the series, yet competitors rarely seem to do so.
Because of Rally America’s new rules, I’m forced to add this disclaimer as well: The information and opinions expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not reflect the views of The Rally Takeover, nor any individual authors besides me. Some of these authors actively compete in Rally America events, and for all I know, under this rule they could get penalized or banned if they’re associated with this article. That’s how broad and far reaching this is. But I don’t compete in Rally America, so I have nothing to lose.