2021 McConkey & Harcourts Solutions QLD Rally Championship Official of the year

The QLD Rally Advisory Panel has dubbed April Official’s Month.

To start off this special month we would like to again congratulate the 2021 McConkey & Harcourts Solutions QLD Rally Championship Official of the year Mal Bartolo.

Mal sat down with the QLD Rally Panel Chair Matt Sosimenko recently to chat about how and why he got involved as a Rally Official.

Mal Bartolo with his 2021 Official of the Year Award
How did you get involved in rally?

I had already been interested in motorsport as a young kid. My father took me to speedway in Sydney (Windsor speedway) NSW to watch his cousin race.

One night, I took my now wife Gwen home after meeting at the local RSL and when we arrived I noticed that there was a rally car on the back of a trailer. Gwen’s brother is Ron McKinnon who became one of the leading competitors in the NSW Rally Championship during the mid-1980’s winning state events including Bega and the Bay Stages. I became hooked once I was taken for a drive one night.

How long has he been involved?

I began my involvement with Rally in1982.

Why do you official?

To be a good rally driver, you need to concentrate as well as listen to someone (ie. Co-driver) telling you what to do. I didn’t have that ability even though I drove well in Motorkhana, Khanacross and Autocross events.

When we moved to QLD in 1986 with the proceeds of the rally car we sold, we were able to put a deposit on our first house. We then had a further 2 children so competing in events was not an option. I wanted to still be involved in some way with the sport we enjoyed. Even when I moved to NSW for work in 1989-90, there were plenty of events to attend to assist on in a sport you have a passion for. This passion continued when I moved back to QLD resulting in long-term friendships with people like Greg Swell and Brian Everitt that remain today.

Favourite part of being an official?

Initially, when spectating at rally events became restricted from the late 80’s onwards, it was a way to get closer to the action. To have your own private spectator point and not worry about people all around you.

More recently, as a qualified workplace trainer away from rally with DXC Technology, I love the organisation side of things. That is getting all your ideas on the one page and pull together a customer experience that all will enjoy. When it does and you are sitting in Event Command while watching dots on RallySafe, you are still watching and contributing to the success of the event that you pulled together and spent many months on prior.

Tips for someone thinking of getting involved

Talk to people.

 Come to an event first as a spectator; talk to people and officials at Service Park, at spectator points and rally headquarters. Ask questions to get a sense of what is required and see what is required to get involved.

Thanks Mal for sharing your story and thank you for helping keep Rally events in QLD running.

If you would like to be interviewed for Official’s Month and share your story please contact the QLD Rally Advisory Panel at qldrally@qldrallychampionship.com

Keen to become an Official? You can find out more and apply online here – https://motorsport.org.au/officials