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July 2009 Archives


For Immediate Release

July 26, 2009

Bangor, Maine USA

Last Ditch Racing overcame adversity to clinch the 2009 Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class Championship at this past weekend's New England Forest Rally held in Bethel, Maine. Round 6 of the 2009 Rally America Championship, the New England Forest Rally is a driver's favorite and has a reputation for being somewhat rough and rocky.

Friday's stages consisted of two super specials and the famous Concord Pond stage. Hoping to better their top 10 stage time from 2008, it became apparent to Cassidy and Getchell early in the stage that the car was down on power. The team did what they could to minimize time losses, with Cassidy driving the car a bit further into corners and trying to carry speed where possible. A failing driveshaft was later identified and fixed during the overnight service.

Saturday saw the start of the Berlin Rally and the first two stages saw the team setting competitive regional times. But it was not to last. Cassidy could see white smoke trailing(and entering) the car as early as stage three. In service, oil seen on the skidplate and the crew surmised that there was an internal engine issue that was overpressurizing the crankcase, forcing oil out under load.

The team were battling with the Team O'Neil team of Knox/Wilburn in their Group 5 Mazda Speed3 for the Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class Championship. Knox had been leading the Eastern Regional Championship after a strong run in an Open Class Subaru at STPR. But Knox was having issues of his own-a gearbox leak causing concern.

The situation forced Cassidy/Getchell to change their mental approach to the race - ignoring the smoke and whine from the engine under load while still pushing as hard as possible took all energy they had. They had to resort to carrying supplemental oil onboard to top of the car before and after each stage. The final stage saw the two teams separated by mere seconds. With a 30 mile transit back to the finish at the Sunday River Resort after the stage, Cassidy/Getchell were carrying a full fuel load and 6 liters or supplemental oil. "We were the heaviest we'd been all day, and we knew the car was sick. We also knew that we had to pull out the best run of our day on our third run through the short, tricky stage," said Cassidy.

The stage went without incident and the crew felt they were clean and tidy. Now the long transit back to Sunday River, and the final MTC, began. The crew stopped every 12 miles or so to pour more oil into the engine. "It was all we could do to nurse her home. Every time we'd put the engine under load uphill, I'd see a thick fog of smoke blowing out the back. I don't think the line of cars behind us appreciated it very much, but we were in survival mode."

The team arrived at Sunday River and Co-Driver Wilburn found Cassidy. Cassidy/Getchell were 5 seconds quicker their last time through the stage and secured the final podium spot for the day, and the Eastern Regional Open Class Championship by a mere 3.3 seconds! The regional competition was very close, and all of the competitors agreed that it made for some good drama during the day. "We all came to race, and having to fight for seconds at the end of a physically and mentally taxing day is something we soon won't forget," said Cassidy.

Cassidy ended the 2009 Rally America Eastern Regional season first Driver in the Open Class and second in the Overall driver points. Getchell took second overall Co-Driver and second in Open Class. Last Ditch Racing has secured the Eastern Regional Open Class Championship the last three years in a row and the Eastern Regional Overall Championship in 2008.

Once their engine issues are sussed, the team is looking forward to competing in Canada later in the season as well as returning to the Rally America Regional Rally Championship in Missouri in 2010.

And finally, Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2009 Partners for their support:
Triple Caution, LLC,
Mark Fleming Photography:
Team O'Neil Rally School,


For Immediate Release

July 13, 2009

Bangor, Maine USA

Maine's own Last Ditch Racing heads to the the mountains of Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire for the New England Forest Rally, July 17-18.

Round 6 of the 2009 Rally America Championship will see Last Ditch Racing's Driver John Cassidy and Co-Driver Dave Getchell celebrating their 10th anniversary in both the sport and the event itself.

"We've come a long way in ten years, and we owe it to our talented crew as well as all the talented crews that we've raced against that have shown us how to prepare a car, manage a team, and run an event. Very few people, other than fellow competitors, understand what we go through simply to get the car to the start of the first stage. We're thankful to still have a passion for the sport and a desire to strap in and push ourselves to the limit."

The event will see the LDR crew starting 16th amongst a field of 50 competitors from the US and Canada. 2008 saw the team place a career best 5th overall, narrowly missing out on a wildcard invite to the Summer X-Games in LA. "We had a dream race last year, and I'm hoping we can run a tidy and quick race. Above all, we're going to have fun!"

Rally America Eastern Regional Rally Overall and Open Class Champions in 2008 and Eastern Region Open Class Champions in 2007, the LDR team is excited to be in the hunt for yet another regional Championship, currently sitting second in the 2009 Eastern Regional Championship. "We found a snowbank in February at the Team O'Neil rally and then had a power steering pump fail in Missouri. Both incidents cost us valuable time, but that's what rally is about-keeping cool in the face of adversity and driving quick enough to scare yourself, but not quick enough to crash! We went on to finish both events and that'll be the priority at NEFR-to finish."

The team will pilot their Open Class 2003 Subaru WRX STi sedan, a car they've been continuously developing over the past few seasons. "The car's in great shape and she's ready to go play in the dirt!"

Friends and fans can find the team at the Phoenix House at Sunday River on Thursday night from 7-9PM. The crew will be signing posters and the team's car will be on display!

For more information on the New England Forest Rally, please visit:

And finally, Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2009 Partners for their support:
Triple Caution, LLC,
Mark Fleming Photography:
Team O'Neil Rally School,

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