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Bangor ProRally team driven
Last Ditch Racing competitive in recent events
By Tom Hale in The Bangor Daily News

The Last Ditch Racing ProRally racing team of Bangor finished its quest to race on both ends of the continent by placing 26th in the Susquehannock Trail SCCA ProRally held over the weekend in Wellsboro, Pa. The previous weekend the Maine team finished 15th (fifth overall in the Open Class) in the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary, Alberta.

Team driver John Cassidy said the engine in the team's Subaru race car blew in stage five of the Pennsylvania rally.

"I was not disappointed in our race weekend since we placed eighth in the Sherwood Forest Club Rally portion of the event, thus earning our highest placing in a rally event in the United States," Cassidy said. "Our Bangor team was the highest placing nonturbo car in the Club Rally."

Despite a broken spring in the car's suspension, the rally team moved up four places after the first stage, three more in the third stage, and held its own in the fourth stage of the Pro Rally.
The overall winner of the event was Shane Mitchell of Yonkers, N.Y., in a Subaru WRX. Fellow Yonkers resident Thomas Lawless followed him in his Mitsubishi. Paul Choiniere of Shelbourne, Vt., in a two-wheel-drive Neon SRT, finished third.

Before the event, Cassidy was optimistic about his chances for a strong finish in the heavy rain.

"I have more experience in wet slippery conditions than dry, even though I prefer dry conditions," said Cassidy.

Last Ditch Racing ran its nonturbo car in the Pennsylvania rally because its other car was still on the train returning from Calgary where the team raced it in the Rocky Mountain Rally.

"We lost power due to a turbo leak in the Canadian rally putting us at a disadvantage in the event," Cassidy said. "We finished fifth in class and 15th overall despite the leak, so we were quite pleased with that effort. We will travel to Toronto to pick up the turbo car and prepare it for the next rally."

The next event on the Bangor team's rally calendar is the Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs in New Richmond, Quebec, July 2-3.

"Other than the Maine Forest Rally in Rumford in July, the Quebec Rally is the closest rally to our Bangor race shop," Cassidy said. "It is a very interesting and beautiful part of the province. We hope to have a top-10 finish in the Canadian rally."

The first race of the season for the Last Ditch Racing team was the Rally Perce-Neige Maniwaki 200 in Ontario Feb. 6-8. The team placed 10th overall in the 200-kilometer race over snow-covered roads.

Rally racing involves racing high-performance versions of street cars on off-road sections of roads that are closed to the public. Rallying is one of the top motorsports events in Europe, drawing thousands to World Rally Championship events. The winner is determined by the lowest overall time through a series of stages with the fewest penalty points.

Rally racing utilizes a co-driver/navigator who reads notes about the course as the car hurtles through the stages, which often are woods roads with trees only inches away. The co-driver for Last Ditch Racing is Camden's Dave Getchell.

Getchell works for "Wooden Boat" magazine in Camden, and has the flexibility to compete in the Canadian Rally Championship series as well as Sports Car Club of America Pro Rally events, including the Maine Forest Rally.

Most fans of NASCAR racing know the importance of pit crews and their lightning-quick pit stops. What they may not know is rally racing also places a great deal of importance on pit stops called service stops.

Rally cars will often come limping into service areas after coming out on the losing end of a collision with large rocks or trees. The crew only has 20 minutes to do repairs, which allow their racer to continue on to the next stage. Last Ditch Racing's crew members at Susquehannock Rally in Pennsylvania were Eric and Margaret Wages, Mike Rademacher, and Getchell.

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