The sequence of events of Friday 12th February 2021, leading up to the inability to conduct the Mt Baw Baw Sprint as planned, needs some background explanation for everyone associated with the event.
I had some personal insight from Thursday evening, that the Victorian Government were making ready for a lock down situation, but I, like many others, assumed such an eventuality, if it came to pass, would only affect Greater Melbourne.
Friday morning brought early media reports that there were to be meetings to further consider Government action and new health orders. We now know, from published reports in the mainstream media, of the specifics of the sequence of meetings, which culminated in the press conference at 1PM, by the Premier, which announced the state wide lock down.
The state wide coverage of such orders is what backed the AASA into a corner, and within 30 seconds of the announcement, and with understanding of the statutory restrictions of a Stage 4 lockdown, I knew that the event could not proceed. (The AASA cannot and will not sanction an event against lawful instructions, at any government level.)
I immediately contacted the ATR organisers of my interpretation of the position that had to be taken, which I had confirmed with the AASA CEO and management.
In parallel, Mt Baw Baw Management contacted ATR organisers, advising that the village would need to be shut down under the health orders, and as lessors of a government owned facility, they have an obligation to immediately comply.
In a nutshell, the ability to conduct the event in a lawful manner was shot, and the loss of the ability to use the village for rest, meals and other necessities doubly destroyed capability.
The event’s ability to be conducted was therefore in a position that motor sport describes as “force majeure”, that being in unsolvable circumstance or set of circumstances which causes an event to be stopped if underway, or prevents competition from being held at all.
The AASA understands the massive effort which is put into such events by organisers in getting the event ready, and effort from officials who give up their own time to assist and make sure the event can happen, and of course the competitor group who support the event by competing.
May I take this opportunity to thank the tarmac rallying family, and everyone associated with the event, who put their time, effort and finances behind this event, and ask for continued support, given the circumstances.
The AASA will work with ATR to get this event happening at another time, and I resignedly know that motor sport events, and the ability for them to occur, will continue to be problematic for 2021, as much as it was in 2020, and maybe we all just have to get used to that, and adapt our expectations due to government restrictions, right across Australia, being randomly imposed, for a while yet.
The Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort are working proactively with the ATR organisers to reschedule, but it is an understandably busy time with other events to host, and a looming snow season. ATR and the Alpine Resort will do their best.
The AASA process, under these circumstances worked, and now it is up to ATR and competitors and officials to work together to salvage the event, and the commercial considerations that go with that.
The passion of the motor sport family for their sport, means that everyone will work together for a solution, and I ask you all to be patient and generous in that process.
To have the opening round of the 2021 Championship brought to a halt in such circumstances, and especially under the stewardship of the new owners, is a blow that is hard to take, and I am sure we are all feeling emotions somewhere between anger, frustration and sadness, but let’s all dig in and move forward, but please have every ones’ back in the process. It is not easy.
I trust our interstate visitors can all get home without hassle or any need for quarantining, (and there were many of you) and the AASA will continue to maintain our position of “ONE Australia” in spite of the inexplicable local and parochial attitudes to such a concept.
Hope to see you all soon for the event.