Recent Photos
lastditchracing's items Go to lastditchracing's photostream

February 2009 Archives


Just back in the hotel in Rolla.

We had some fluid leaking from the power steering line fittings that Bronson and I brazed on. Chris tightened them up and off we went.

Shortly after leaving service, I knew that something was wrong with the power steering. Shortly thereafter, it was gone.

We had three stages and I knew that it'd take all my manly buffness to wrestle T-4 through the stages without power steering. It was pretty rough, and now I know what the WRC guys go through.

Worst part was when the wheel jerked on one corner and my elbow slammed into the rollcage. Ouch. I'll be wearing my wrist splints to bed tonight.

So, we knew the power steering pump would eventually fail and likely seize if the fluid was leaking out. Sure enough, after the next stage, it was chirping like a chipmunk under the hood.

About halfway into the stage, we started smelling smoke and seeing sparks/embers coming out from the hood vents and into Dave's footwell. He was pretty sure we were on fire, but I told him it was just sparks(optimistically). We had also found a crack in the headers and I was worried that if the power steering fluid was pooling on the skidplate, the blowtorch temperature heat coming out of the cracked header would ignite it.

Anyway, we pushed the pedal down and kept on. Eventually, the smoke stopped and the sparks subsided, but not before we launched over a cattle-grate jump smoking and sparking! :-)

With the alternator belt gone, we knew we were running on just battery power. We shut down all unneeded electrical items and I ran with just one set of HID's on, figuring that once lit, they draw less than normal halogens. Of course, driving with the HID lights on the road made many people happy! ;-) We got about halfway to Salem and the HID's started to flicker. Not good. Dave said to find a spot to pull over and I pulled off near a driveway.

We flagged down a fellow competitor, George Georgocopalus(? SP) and he towed us the rest of the way to Salem. Eventually all trace of electrical activity faded from T-4 and we were just a shadow trailing George's car on a tow rope. He was going about 55, so it was a bit hairy and took some concentration.

We made it back to the final Main Time Control without penalty and the boys are still in Rolla fixing the issue. Pat Moro gave us his spare pump. Chris blobbed some weld on the headers and we went to Auto Zone and bought a new belt and power steering fluid.

Just got a call that there is a leak below one of the fittings that we brazed on. They told me they thought they might try brazing it again, but it's nearly impossible in the car. I told them to head to Autozone and find some good that they can plug the damn hole with.

Who knows how long the repair will hold(if at all) and how far we'll make it tomorrow. Snow is forecast, and that should make things interesting! :-)

Up at 06:00 tomorrow and won't be done until tomorrow night.

Dave Mirra is doing great and is in third place.

Thanks for all the support-we'll push as hard as we can tomorrow. We were in 4th in the Regional event, but lost about 3 minutes with the lack of power steering. Not sure where we sit currently. With all that's happened, we're just happy to still have the chance to continue. :-)

Thanks for all the support! Cheers! John


Sorry I've been remiss about posting on the blog the last few days we've been here in Missouri!

We're here for the 100 Acre Wood Rally and primarily the Regional Rally Championships. We arrived in Rolla, which is about 20 minutes from Rally HQ in Salem MO on Wednesday afternoon. Registered for recce while co-driver Dave and Super Agent Kevin arrived in the SUV rental from St. Louis.

Thursday was recce for Dave and I. We were up at 05:00 and finished about 14:30. Roads were very smooth, fast and dry. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm, but should be cooling off quite a bit tomorrow and Friday, which is good for us. We have cold weather Pirelli tires which only are effective within a certain temperature range.

Crew tech'ed the car this afternoon and I got a call when I was in the woods on recce that we had no restrictor in the turbo! Of course, we're required to run one, and I know I had put it in when we left. On further examination, the crew located it in the air intake pipe. ;-) But, then they were told that it was 0.06mm too large! WTF!? It was fine at the last race. It had miraculously grown. Needing a solution, Chris called around and located a local machine shop that repairs equipment for the mining industry. They said they'd take a go at making one and used the old one as a template.

Entering all the info in the CAD program, the CNC lathe whipped up the restrictor in record time! We need to get one of those! Um, no, we don't. ;-)

Car all tech'd, we all met back up in Rolla for a team meeting and then a quick bite at Panera.

Up tomorrow at a very civilized 7AM so that we can leave around 9. Takes awhile to get 6 men showered and fed. ;-) We'll travel about 1:45 to Pitosi, the only service location for the day's rally. Parc expose, then first car off about 15:30. We'll be starting 18th on the road, which will hopefully give us a cleaner line to work with than the first few cars.

Big effort to get the car ready, crew down here, and take all the time needed. No matter how things go, we've already made some great memories this week and hopefully will go fast enough to make some more on race day! :-)

Be sure and follow us via twitter over the weekend-that's where most of the updates will be happening!

Cheers! John

LDR February Musings

posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Some more random musings and updates from Triple Caution Farm. I find it hard to separate the rally updates from life updates/musings because rallying is intertwined through everything else in my life. :-)

Seems like we just completed the Team O'Neil rally last weekend, although it's been a couple of weeks now. We were a bit off the pace from the get-go. We had a nasty whistling noise in the engine bay under full boost. We figured it was the spare turbo we had to use for the event, and I think the noise really played into my not being as aggressive in my driving as I could've/should've been.

I drove us into a snowbank, and we spent about 8 minutes in there. Spectators were amazing and lifted and tugged us out. Thanks to everyone who helped. We finished the event, but at that point, were no longer in contention for a podium so took it relatively easy the rest of the day.

New turbo has arrived from Blouch Turbo in PA. Great folks to work with. I can't say enough about how knowledgeable and helpful they were on the phone. I spoke with three other well-known turbo shops and no one conveyed the sense of knowledge that Blouch did.

We're in the midst of making preparations for the Regional Rally Championship event at 100 Acre Wood in Missouri. 2.5 days of driving from Maine and we'll be there! ;-) Ordered soft gravel tires and will bring every other type of tire we have! Who knows that the weather will be like. Making hotel reservations, checking documents for trailer, rally car, tow rig. Getting crew travel arranged. It's a huge logistical undertaking and really my least favorite part of rallying. When the rally starts, that's when I finally get to work! :-)

So, between now and the time we leave on the 23rd, we'll put the new turbo on, check the rally car over for any other damage. Most likely replace the inner and outer tie-rod ends. The Sprinter haul rig will get it's 12" subwoofer installed(we need the bump!), and a new balljoint up front. Trailer will get some R+R on the brake system. If it's not the rally car that needs help, it's some other component of the infrastructure!

Some more musings on fitness. I've lost about 47 pounds since I started going to the gym a year ago and working with my trainer, Scott Kahkonen at USA Fitness here in Bangor. Scott tortures me once a week, and I do a cycling class and Body Combat class with him once each week as well. Couple of nights at Karate with my oldest son each week, and that's my routine.

So why am I posting about fitness?! Well, the reaction I've received from friends and family has been odd and mixed. Some people ask me if I'm sick. I think they see my Livestrong wristband and think I have cancer. I started wearing it after a Livestrong fundraising campaign at the gym in the fall. In my line of work as a PA, I've cared for many cancer patients in a primary care role. Of course, Lance Armstrong is inspirational to me as well for his work on, and off, the bike.

The strangest reaction is when people tell me that they think I'm obsessed with fitness and tell me I need to stop or gain weight back! My cholesterol has fallen to great levels, I'm finally at a point where my BMI qualifies as nomal and not overweight or obese. I'm eating what I need(and yes still have chocolate and other goodies from time-to-time) and doing some high protein replacements after heavy workouts.

So what's wrong with being fit?! I haven't figured it out. Believe me, I really don't want to get off the couch and go to the gym, but I'm working for myself, my family and my trainer. If I can increase my general health, decrease my risk of developing cardiac disease, diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and be around longer to drive my kids crazy, so much the better! Oh yeah, I have to buy a smaller race suit now because I look like I stole a bigger man's suit! ;-)

Let's talk Missouri and 100AW. Last year, we had a great run in the event, but had a speeding penalty, costing us the win. Completely our fault. We had no speedometer(drive in the tranny doesn't work) and the Terratrip(rally computer) wasn't working for the entire event either. I thought I had slowed enough for the speed control, but obviously not.

So, we had a great event, with a podium finish. Just wasn't the result we had worked for. So, this year, we need to step it up even more. The Krolikowski's are coming off a great finish at Sno-Drift, so I imagine they'll have some good confidence going into the event. Although not having a great finish at O'Neil's recently, we did shake down the new changes to the car and all was fine. A bit of tweaking, and a new turbo, and we should be good to go.

Competing at long haul events takes a different kind of mentality, than a regional event. We'll have 2, 12 hour days in the rig towing down and back, and 4 days on event in Missouri. A town we don't know. Trying to find the restaurants, tire shops, car part shops, Wal-Mart, etc, all adds to the complexity of managing a team in an unfamiliar environment.

So, we'll do what we do best. Get the movement plan done, order the fuel, mount the tires, check the car three times and hit the road on the 23rd, hoping to have a great scrap in Missouri with the other Regional Rally Champions! :-)


For Immediate Release

January 28, 2009 Bangor Maine USA

Last Ditch Racing, a performance rally team based in Bangor, Maine travelled to the Team O'Neil Rally in Dalton, New Hampshire this past weekend. The first event of any sanctioning body for 2009, the event is held on and around the Team O'Neil Rally School in Whitefield, New Hampshire. Conditions were snow and ice, and Driver John Cassidy and co-driver Dave Getchell were set to defend their 2008 victory.

Rally is a fickle sport and this event was no exception for the LDR crew. The team found themselves off the pace for the first few stages, with Cassidy concerned that their turbocharger might be at risk due to unexpected noises under boost. The team had to resort to a spare turbo just prior to the event as their usual competition was found to be damaged. Said Cassidy, "We knew it was a gamble going with an unknown turbo, but we didn't have much choice. Once we realized, in spite of the noise, that we had consistent boost, we decided to try and ignore the fact that the turbo might grenade at any moment."

SS5 saw the team come into a L2 into R2 complex near the rally school. Cassidy cut the corner a bit too much and was sucked off the road when a combination of overplow, oversteer and debris in the ditch conspired against him. "It was an uphill right turn, and I cut it a bit too much. All of a sudden we had grip. The momentum we had carried us right off the road," said Cassidy. Coming to the team's aid were numerous spectators, including Mr. Tim O'Neil and Mr. Martin Headland, two of the most experienced persons with regard to rally car extrication. "I was sitting in the car and everyone was lifting the rear of the car, a few inches at a time, back onto the road. It was incredible. Then they all pulled on the tow strap and yanked us out."

The team set competitive times for the remainder of the stages, but fell down the order after the off behind some cars with less grip. "We caught a Mazda coming down a series of hairpins, which was quite fun," said Cassidy. "We didn't want to pressure them too much as weren't really in contention for an overall spot at that point, but T-4 doesn't like to go slow!" The Mazda crew graciously let LDR pass and finish the stage at speed.

Cassidy was hoping for more of a battle with X-Games BMX Superstar and Rally medalist Dave Mirra. "Dave is a fantastic guy and becoming very quick in a rally car. We've used each other over the last half of the 2008 season to gauge speed. We were clearly no match for Dave and Co-Driver Lance Smith at this event, but perhaps we'll see a closer race at the 100 Acre Wood Rally at the end of February." Rounding out the podium behind Mirra were fellow Mainer's Chris Duplessis in his VW Golf and Allen Downs in his Subaru Impreza.

"The event is fantastic, and it was great to see everyone come out and try their hand at what is the lowest grip surface we race on," said Cassidy. "To see 2 of the 3 podium spots filled with fellow Maine teams is very satisfying-we only wish we could have joined them!"

The team shifts its focus to the Rally America Regional Championship, held in conjunction with the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri in late February. "As Overall and Class Champions in the Northeast, we're invited to participate in the RRC," said Cassidy. "We showed good speed there last year, but lost the RRC due to a timing penalty. We definitely have some unfinished business there."

For more information on the Team O'Neil Rally, please visit:
For more information the 100 Acre Wood Rally, please visit:

And finally, Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their Partners for their support:
Triple Caution, LLC,
Hydra EMS,
Team O'Neil Rally School,
Mark Fleming Photography:

For photos, videos, team blogs and more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit:
Social Networking: To follow us on twitter, please visit: or find us on Facebook and/or Myspace and sign up as a friend or fan!

For LDR Videos, check out out Youtube channel at:

To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit: