On Saturday, April 30th, tragedy struck the close knit rally racing community during the Olympus Rally based in Ocean Shores, WA.
31-year-old driver Matthew Marker of Elk Rapids, MI did not survive injuries sustained in a racing accident. Marker was in his fifth year of participating in the Rally America National Championship and was a popular driver among his peers. Marker was known to have ambitions of improving his Championship standings and taking part in building the sport’s popularity.
Matthew Marker’s co-driver (the driver’s navigator), Christopher Gordon of Brooklyn Park, MN, was not seriously injured in the accident.
The crash occurred when Marker’s car went off the road on a right turn during the 6th competitive stage of the event and impacted a tree on the driver’s side. Medical personnel responded to the scene quickly, but could not resuscitate Marker. The sport of rally in North America has not had a competitor-related fatality since 2003.
RallyCar Managing Director, J.B. Niday, knew Marker well describing him as, “a generous, loveable personality that wouldn’t think twice about offering parts to other drivers.” Niday said, “Matthew loved the sport and was a unique character from the first day he showed up at the Sno*Drift Rally four years ago.”
Team 600 co-driver Jake Blattner was close to Marker and remembers him as “a very passionate, energetic, hip gear-head that used to turn up with glowing neon lights under his car on the night stages, which the fans loved.” Like everyone in the sport, Blattner is shaken but remains convinced that the organization does everything it can to keep competitors safe. Blattner said, “It’s a dangerous sport but that’s what sets it apart. It’s you against the open road and the clock.”
Olympus Rally organizers and RallyCar officials decided to conclude the Rally American National Championship event at the end of Special Stage 6 and will award points based on those finishing times. The coinciding MaxAttack! 2-Wheel-Drive Series also concluded their event out of respect to the deceased and his family and friends. The John Nagel Regional Rally did continue as scheduled on Sunday and National competitors were given the option to enter.