Some may think I’m being incredibly sad, choosing to utilise my time in this rather nice hotel room, the second in as many months, to sit and write a blog post rather than go out on the town and see a bit of Dar Es Salaam. The truth is, I’ve just set myself up, and am sitting here revelling in the kit I’ve managed to accumulate and the prospects of the week to come.
My laptop, which has been through the thick and thin over the last two years, is still doing me proud, with a brand new LED screen, brand new motherboard with AMD 6770M gpu and running Windows 8, Office 2013 and all legal and legit. Funny how it took coming to Africa before I managed to get my computer above board. My phone is finally working well, with no random reboots and no need to enter a stupid code on each boot just to send SMS messages, and all in all, whilst I have my whiskey and a little stick of weed to keep me going, I’m fully prepped for what promises to be the best weekend of my motorsport career to date.
In the morning Gurvi will turn up with the other guys from AAT to begin going through the week’s events and start preparing to open Rally HQ at Tazara Station here in the city, also where the Super Special Stage will be held on Sunday afternoon. As the man in charge of HQ for the week, my number has already been published to all those that need it, and I just can’t wait to get started! It is a dream come true to be here in the middle of all this, with the opportunity to meet all the top drivers from East Africa and beyond, many of which are already good friends of mine, and get to not just go to the rally, but be an integral part of it.
It started last year, at a party in Marangu, where this crazy old mzee – John Bennett of the Golden Shower in Moshi – asked for my help with his laptop and wifi at his restaurant. The work I did lead to him helping me get my driving license here in Tanzania, and further conversations about cars and motorsport lead me to watch the Monaco Grand Prix with him on my birthday, and an invitation to join the Kilimanjaro Motorsports Club the following week. Just two weeks later I was in Tanga meeting officials from Abu Dhabi, including Ronan Morgan, who is a veteran rally navigator and main organiser of the Wales Rally GB for over twenty years. Roll forward a few months and we’re back in Moshi organising our first sprint event in the city to a crowd of over 4000 people, and push forward another year and after another seminar in Tanga with Ronan and his colleagues (I best mention their names as I know they she will be upset if I don’t – Tanya Kutsenko and Stewart Murray) and I find myself being invited to run Rally HQ for the Tanzanian round of the African Rally Championship.
None of this means I’m in any way more organised or sorted than I’ve been before, but what it does mean is that I am now much closer to my ultimate version of myself than ever before – the biggest revelation of all being that having money or not having money has nothing to do with it! I guess my own hard work and passion for something I genuinely love has finally found an avenue for release, so here I am, in top flight African Motorsport living my own dream. I have volunteered up to this point, and offered my services such as they are to genuinely help the sport in this country and push forward my own knowledge of Rallying and motorsport in general. I do this because I love it, and finally it’s paying off and giving me the experience to take anywhere in the world.
So as I pour another glass of whiskey, plop in a couple of blocks of ice and put on a movie to send me to sleep, I say farewell to my time as a rookie rally volunteer. Tomorrow I will be right in the thick of it, and despite the butterflies in my stomach and the ever growing fear of fucking it all up, I am prepared, my laptop is prepared, and I’m ready to take on the PUMA RALLY OF TANZANIA 2013!