Michigan driver dies in road rally near Raymond

Matthew Marker

RAYMOND — A Michigan man died Saturday, April 30, when the racecar he was driving struck a tree while he was participating in the Olympus Rally. The accident occurred 10 miles northeast of Raymond on the Smith Creek-North River Road.

Matthew Marker of Elk Rapids, Mich., was driving a 2002 Subaru Impreza four-wheel-drive westbound at about 5:30 p.m. in a legally sanctioned road rally when he lost control of his vehicle in a left-hand curve, left the road to the right and struck a tree about 40 feet down an embankment. He died at the scene. Marker was wearing a safety restraint and no alcohol was involved, according to a Washington State Patrol report.

Marker was in his fifth year of participating in the Rally America National Championship and was a popular driver among his peers, according to a press release from race organizers. 

Marker’s co-driver (the driver’s navigator), Christopher Gordon of Brooklyn Park, Minn., was not seriously injured in the accident.

The impact with the tree was on the driver’s side of the car. 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 and describing him as, “a generous, loveable personality that wouldn’t think twice about offering parts to other drivers. He 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, Jake is shaken but remains convinced that the organization does everything it can to keep competitors safe. “It’s a dangerous sport but that’s what sets it apart. Its you against the wild 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 awarded 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. 

Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew of the United Kingdom were declared the winner of the shortened Olympus National Rally.

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