Blacktop Rally – My Thoughts

Anyone paying attention on Twitter last week would have seen the updates for #BlacktopLive and @BlacktopRally . Basically the rally was an attempt to recreate the legendary  Gumball 3000 Rally in South Africa. I don’t like your event. Here’s why: The Blacktop Rally describes itself as “A six day, rip-roaring, epic, rock-star, hard driving, hard partying, no-blue-lights, 3,000 km road rally from Jo’burg to Cape Town.” The “no-blue-lights” bit is a little worrying, but all seems ok so far. It’s just a party roadtrip

Disclaimer: I actually like #BlackTopLive. These 3 guys managed to raise R40 000 for Missionvale Care Centre. They can stay, and should be excused from this rant.

The premise is that you drive across South Africa to racetracks in your own car with a bunch of other guys, where you get to drive really fast with only 2-3 other cars on the circuit. At night, you party hard at a party hosted by FHM. All still sounds fantastic.

It was. The rally got a lot of attention on Twitter with a few teams getting some radio exposure before the event. All’s well.

Except it isn’t. I was going to let my gripe go until I saw this Tweet today.

Ya… 149km/h in a 120km/h zone. That’s a R1000 fine, if I’m correct? And you have the nerve to brag that you basically bribed your way to a reduced fine with a magazine and a hat? The lack of responsibility doesn’t stop there. Just before the rally started I was on the N1S, just before Rivonia Rd, when a red Nissan Navara covered in Blacktop Rally stickers passed me. I chased it to get a pic of the plate and missed. That was at 150km/h around 1pm on Freedom Day. Nice one!

Finally, we turn to the images from the rally. Racetracks are notoriously anal about safety, and rightly so. Every racetrack has had its share of fatal accidents, some more than others. But no, you were charging around a racetrack in the KTM X-Bow with competitors sitting on the side of the track having a picnic.

No trained race marshals in reflective clothing to help if things go wrong – just normal civillians.

If the event had been properly organised, there would have been trained marshals keeping people off the circuit. What would have happened if the X-Bow had lost control and ploughed into the crowd? We live in a world that has a suing culture, and an incident would have resulted in this event being banned forever – not to mention fatalities. Why my grumblings? Well, like I said, you are trying to be Gumball 3000. Except, you are failing. You are missing the exotics, the craziness, the true hooliganism. The guys who do Gumball Rally are like 1%ers. Your outfit exists to simply drive like a knob. You’re like a group of 18 year old boys who just got their licenses and “know everything”. You think you’re invincible and untouchable. 149km/h, a reduced fine and complaints about corrupt cops? Pffft. I hope you get your act together before you kill somebody.

Matt out.

9 thoughts on “Blacktop Rally – My Thoughts

  1. Matt I’d like to challenge a couple of things and agree with a couple of things:

    1. You rave about the Gumball 3000 because it has “the exotics, the craziness, the true hooliganism”. Define “hooliganism” please because it seems to me that it’s the hooliganism of the Blacktop that you have a problem with. I’m a massive fan of both rallies and Gumball does attract a proper rockstar audience and some amazing cars. The Blacktop is in its second year and is already attracting a lot of attention and some amazing cars. You’re very mixed in what you want from a rally.

    2. I was sitting on the side of the track when that pic was taken and the X-box wasn’t racing the track, it was, if I’m not mistaken, using the quiet lunch break to look for a GoPro that had fallen off the car. I can understand your interpretation of the photo but the truth is that there were full marshal services that day with intricate safety regulations. However, a lack of any of those, if there had been a lack, would be a reflection on the track not the rally organisers.

    3. Go on the rally. You have a big opinion about something you know little about. Yes, the Blacktop guys shouldn’t have organised a reduced fine and shouldn’t have bragged about it. That’s wrong. But don’t judge the entire rally based on that one mistake. My challenge to you is this, if you have NEVER received a speeding fine in your entire life then feel free to pass judgement. However, if you have been trapped for speeding then who are you to judge?

    You’re free to have and share your opinion and if the rally isn’t for you then that’s cool – it definitely isn’t for everyone. But how about you speak to a few of the people on the rally first to fact check, get some insider insight, or expand you limited perception before you fire off a rant? Surely that will make for a more intelligent and more informed post?

    Finally, you saw a branded vehicle speed past you so you “chased it to get a pic of the plate”. You chased a speeding car, so you were also speeding then. I’ll bet someone else was in the car to take the picture, right? You wouldn’t be using a camera phone while driving now would you.

    • Craig, allow me to retort::

      A friend of mine cautioned me on the wording on Gumball. I do not endorse it. How can I? It’s blatant disregard for the traffic laws. My issue, however badly communicated, is the lack of responsible behaviour and that from an online spectator’s point of view, the organizers failed to guarantee participant safety and promote safe behaviour.

      I openly challenge this statement. @iDales Tweet says, and I quote ” This is what #BlackTopLive is about: eating pizza on the side of a track while an X-Bow passes you at 200km/h…” I am not sure how I interpreted that incorrectly from the attached video. Please, look at it. That car is definitely not puttering around looking for a lost camera.

      Your statement that it the fault on the part of the track not the organizers does not hold water. A responsible organizer would have ensured their competitors are safe at all times, even if the track marshals were lax/not present.

      I have received multiple speeding fines, what I have never done is bribe a policeman.
      Yes, I chased after the red Nissan at speed and had my passenger try capture a picture. So no, I was not using a camera phone while driving.

      My failure: I did not do more research. This was an opinion piece. Some of the items in here are reported facts (The X-Bow/track scenario). I love hooning a car, but there is a time and a place for it, and it most certainly is not on a public road or on a track where spectators are at risk.

      X-bow Video for caption:

  2. Hi Matt,

    The Tweet I sent out was misleading, I’ll cop to that. We got caught at 146, admitted guilt and took the R500 fine on the chin. After chatting nicely to the officers, they reduced the fine to R300, and then asked about the branded car and the event etc., at which point I gave them a magazine or two and a wristband. Again, the tweet is misleading, we didn’t bribe anyone.

    Regarding lunch on the side of the track, every single track event was properly manned by marshals, medics and fire onsite. If I recall correctly, the X-Bow had gone out to look for the camera and was doing one final lap before pitting. Thanks for pointing the potential for an incident (which is why we carry public liability on the event) and we’ll make sure it won’t happen again in future.

    It would appear from your reply to Craig above that your two issues are entrant safety and bribery of officers. I’m confident that the entrants were safe at all times at all the tracks around SA (even at lunch time). Regarding bribery, it was a poorly worded, misleading tweet.

    I would like to point out though that we had zero incidents at the tracks or on the public roads, so I find your original comment “Your outfit exists to simply drive like a knob.” to be insulting to both the organisers and the entrants. Meticulously planned and run by professionals, everything ran smoothly. Also – none of us complained about “corrupt cops”. Those who got fined accepted it with good grace and went on our way – please don’t project your issues with corrupt cops on to us.

    Hey, maybe you’ll join us on next year’s Blacktop and see what’s it’s really about before making generic and ill-founded comments about “driving like knobs” and corrupt officials.

    • Hi Clen

      Thanks for replying. I may have been rather brash in some of the comments. I trust you will continue to strive for safety in your event, and would like to be come to be involved somehow in Blacktop Rally 2013.

      If you have any other comments feel free to drop me a mail via the contact form (Spambots be harvesting otherwise).


      • MATT, I’ve been on two black top rallies and Will point out that you are a douche, and I truly hope that you don’t get involved in it cause you clearly have your Shit properly messed up… do some homework before you comment or make the bloody organiser justify you with a reply…. moron! Why do you start off by skating the ice with it’s not rough enough and end off with “safety first guys” decide What you want and then go for it…., ps we all arrived safe and none of the public was injured during this run….. peace out

        • Do you feel better now Mark? When you learn to type and are able to troll properly, please return and try explain what your issue is.
          If you’re as bad at driving as you are at typing, I hope you stay off the roads.

  3. Matt

    Despite being “excused from this rant” as one of the guys who “managed to raise R40 000 for Missionvale Care Centre” I have to point out a few contextual, factual and ignorant errors that seem to have led you to many unqualified conclusions. Just want to clear a couple of things up here…

    The Blacktop Rally, from what I understand (and I actually attended the event) is hardly an attempt to recreate the Gumball 3000. If you did a little research into road rallies you’ll find there are hundreds of events of this kind all over the world every single year. The concept, if any, actually loosely stems from the original film The Cannonball Run where cops joined in on the rally itself. But who cares anyway. All of these events whether big or small have humble beginnings.

    Sadly, with any event taking place in public, you can’t control individuals and their own actions.

    So I actually agree with you (very firmly in fact) about the conduct of individuals. I don’t condone excessive speeding (although I’ve had my fair share of fines) and I don’t condone bribery. Thankfully I never witnessed any of that on the Blacktop Rally. It’s sad that people out there are doing it and those people seriously need an integrity check.

    You do too, because your post isn’t factually accurate and if you’re going to try be a “journalist” then you need to try be a responsible one. Here are a few tips…

    1. Do some research
    All track days on the BlacktopRally were sanctioned and managed by Motorsport South Africa. Safety was priority and at no point was it compromised. It was upheld by the organizers, the tracks and MSA. There were no incidents on the road or the tracks.

    2. Keep things in context
    The “Picnic” in the photo you pulled from MY video of the KTM passing by took place alongside the pit lane of the circuit behind a safety barrier. If the area wasn’t safe, MSA would not have arranged for lunch to be eaten there. Get context and then keep your story within it.

    3. Get your facts straight
    There were trained and experienced marshals on ALL track days. Again, you make a silly un-researched assumption. No race track in South Africa is allowed to host an event without marshals regardless of whether it’s competitive or recreational.) Just cause you can’t see one in the frame of a 10 second video doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Be smart.

    4. Check your sources.
    FHM wasn’t involved with the event in any way as they pulled out at the last minute. Check your sources. Then check them again.

    I don’t mean to get personal here, but if I slice away all the factual inaccuracies in your post, all I’m left with is some kind of bitterness on your part. And I don’t understand why, so I guess I have no choice.

    Your last statement where you say “The guys who do Gumball Rally are like 1%ers. Your outfit exists to simply drive like a knob. You’re like a group of 18 year old boys who just got their licenses and “know everything”. You think you’re invincible and untouchable.” is the best example of ignorance I’ve seen in a long while.

    A simple call, email or tweet to the organizers (or any of the participants) and you could have got a lot of your questions answered before your “rant.” Possibly an ounce of perspective too. But it seems you didn’t actually have any questions when you wrote this post. It seems you’re the 99%er. The citizen-journalist who falls out of the target market of this kind of event, the guy who downloads and watches the Gumball videos and then bitches about other events cause they didn’t meet your personal expectations as a non-participant. As a person who claims to be a “car lover” and who runs a car blog of sorts, I struggle to comprehend your entire post bar the speeding and bribery accusations.

    The rally for me personally, not knowing what to expect at the beginning, turned out to be one of the most awesome adventures I’ve been on (and I like to think I’ve had a few.) I got to explore my country, I got to visit racetracks, I got to meet some awesome people from all walks of life (including a guy with no leg,) and it all amounted to some amazing memories. Semantics aside, these are the things that the Blacktop Rally is about.

    • Hi Dale

      Using the available resources, I published the facts I had, and made some minor assumptions. I will leave the post as is, with all comments visible to allow anyone who sees it to draw their own conculstions

      1. I cannot find a post or news release that FHM were no longer aligned with Blacktop Rally. Their logo still appears on the Blacktop Rally site, and as such, a reasoned person would assume FHM were still sponsors.
      2. This X-Bow issue seems a sticking point. Clen dealt with this in his earlier comment: " Thanks for pointing the potential for an incident (which is why we carry public liability on the event) and we’ll make sure it won’t happen again in future. " This matter is effectively dealt with
      3. Regarding MSA – I have to take your word on this as 3 attempts to contact MSA have been unsuccessful. I’ll try again tomorrow to ask how they were notified/dealt with.

      Your response has been like my post: based on false assumptions. It’s fallacious to make personal jibes, and your conclusion of my character is based on false assumptions. So may I request that you practice what you preache in this regard?

      When I wrote this post I expected people to respond. Clen/@Blacktop_Rally especially. He did, and offered a reasonsed, rational response to my criticisms of his event. Your response seemed far more emotion-driven, trying to rationalize intangible memories and feelings.

      • Matt. My response was based on facts and not assumptions.

        Nothing personal. I just believe it’s a kak post because bar the PSA (speeding and bribery accusations) there’s nothing more than “a rant” as you put it. So you can’t be surprised when people presume you’re a ranter then.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)