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    The Irish Stroke...

    posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


    For some reason, I feel like I need to recount the tale of my recent brush with the emergency room and mid-life health crisis. Partly so I don't forget what happened, and perhaps so that others might be a bit more informed in case something similar occurs for them.

    About a week ago, I was doing bills at home, and was planning on meeting my oldest son for sushi-one of our favorite meals-that evening. I had some time in between, so I reluctantly prodded myself into doing a TRX workout at home. I had just installed the TRX and really had no excuse to not give it a go. My good friend/trainer, Scott, had recently sent a couple of workouts over via email, so I decided to go with the one with the least reps-don't tell him! ;-)

    The workout seemed harder than usual, and I fatigued pretty quickly, having to adjust my angle on the TRX to finish the sets. I was sweating quite a bit more than usual, and had to make a couple trips inside to towel off during the workout. After I was done, I reflected that the workout was perhaps deceptively harder than it appeared on paper and perhaps even cursed Scott under my breath. I went to fix my usual post workout protein drink and headed upstairs for a shower.

    The perspiration didn't stop. As I got to the bathroom and turned the shower on, I realized that my head hurt. It really hurt. I hung onto the bathroom counter and looked at my eyes in the mirror. Everything looked ok. I hung my head down, thinking that perhaps I had pulled something in my neck. Bad idea. Pain was worse.

    Being a medical professional, and a student of mid-life fitness for some time, I realized that I wasn't ok. The question wasn't if something was going on, but what?! I thought I might have done something to one of the couple bulging discs in my neck. My arms and hands were tingling, but equally. Vision was ok. Everything seemed to move ok. Headache was really bad. Some nausea. Perhaps some dizziness. Could it be some sort or arrhythmia, elevated blood pressure or something vascular going on in my head?

    Whatever it was, it wasn't ok....FML

    I got in the shower, thinking that I could perhaps help any blood pressure issues out with some cool water. I also was sweaty and thinking that I should soap up before heading to the ER, which now seemed an eventuality.

    I felt worse in the shower, and decided to sit on the floor-it's stone and I didn't want to fall/pass out, adding injury to my existing condition. Once sitting down, I realized that didn't feel any better, so I decided to lay down and elevate my legs. Even worse. Great. Now with my ass blocking the drain and realizing I had a long way up to become upright again, I started to move slowly towards the stone seat in the shower, hoping not to slip. As I ran through the differential diagnosis while sitting in the shower, looking out my window, I figured that if it were an aneurysm causing my issues, I'd had likely not made it far enough to reflect on a differential diagnosis...

    I had considered taking my phone into the shower with me in case I needed to call for help, but figured I'd give it some time. Bad choice.

    Pain and nausea persisted. Needed to move bowels, which was unexpected. Managed that, but the increase in pain was terrific. Figuring I'd multi-task, I texted a friend for, "a tide to the ER." Auto-correct could've been worse, I suppose.

    I managed to get somewhat cleaned and dressed and made my way downstairs just as my ER ride arrived. Made it to the hospital and the front desk staff asked what I thought was going on. "I think I'm having a vascular accident and need you to fire up the scanner."

    "Have a seat and we'll be with you when we can." I was having issues with my temperature. Sweats, hot, freezing, shivering. When I got in to see the triage nurse, they were unable to get a temperature on me. The look on the nurse's face wasn't reassuring, but I think my look seemed to say, "I told you so...."

    The ER was packed. Of course. The staff were great, but most of the specialists work at the larger hospital across town. This one was closest and seemed the most prudent to go to. The provider came in and I asked for something for pain. Anything. Just give me anything. I knew this was a difficult request without a diagnosis, but some morphine was on it's way which helped, along with some nausea med.

    A couple IV's were started and, after what seemed like a long time, likely about 45 minutes. I was in the CT. Once back in the ER, the word was that I had a bleed around the bottom of my brain. Neurosurgeon was consulted by phone and a CT-angiogram was ordered. Wonderful contrast solution that makes you feel like you've pee'd your pants when they inject it.

    Yup, there was a bleed. "Substantial amount of blood," was the word from the neurosurgeon. Some hydrocephalus, which is swelling of the cavities in the brain due to the cerebral spinal fluid not being able to circulate as it should. More morphine.

    Everything was a bit surreal through the ER visit. Lots of voices. Lots of rolling down halls. Talks of helicopter flights to Portland or perhaps a ride across town to the other facility. The concern was whether there was an aneurysm causing the bleed that couldn't be seen through all the blood. Luckily, I've had a few head scans over the past couple of years. The neurosurgeon could look back at these and see that the vascular structures all looked good. She consulted with at least two other surgeons, who both agreed that they didn't think there was an aneurysm present.

    As I was laying in the hallway, waiting for some sort of disposition, a wave of increased pain shot through my head. It was likely the most unbearable pain I've experienced in my life. All I could think about was that bad things were happening that were out of my control. There wasn't much about that day that was in my control.

    Once it was determined that the likelihood of an aneurysm was low, I was transferred to the Critical Care Unit. Neuro checks every hour through the night and a steady cocktail of morphine and dexamethasone were given IV. Temperature regulation continued to be an issue and my blood pressure was high. No doubt due to the pain.

    By the next day, I was feeling quite a bit better(relatively), and was transferred to a medical floor, followed by discharge to home the next day.

    The questions I'm getting now are the normal: "What happened?" "What did they say caused it?" "Will it happen again?" "Are you going to be ok?" I think what people are really asking by that last one is will I be somewhat more normal than my pre-event status. ;-)

    I'll have a followup with the neurosurgeon in another week, with a repeat CT-angiogram prior. The official diagnosis is, "peri-mesencephalic sub-arrachnoid hemorrhage." This is thought to be a bleed from the venous side of the circulation near the brainstem and not arterial. Most sub-arrachnoid hemorrhages are caused by Berry aneurysms or arterio-venous malformations, requiring surgical correction.

    The change of recurrence for my type of bleed is <1% by some counts and life expectancy seems to be normal, with most folks enjoying a full recovery. The psychosocial effects of an event like this are perhaps a bit more concerning and there hasn't been a lot of research on it.

    So, what now? Well, no work for at least a month. My instructions are to watch the grass grow. Sleep is terrible. Headache is terrible at times and not really helped by meds. I'm sensitive to light and sound. I'm fatigued easily and have a general sense of disconnect from the world around me. Very strange. The blood in the brain and spinal cord eventually gets reabsorbed, and the irritation from it being there(where it shouldn't) are what cause a lot of pain in the low back and hips, as well as the headache.

    Of course, side effects from the pain meds and steroids are hard to tease out, and they can be significant.

    I'm calling what happened to me, "The Irish Stroke," because I feel like I have a horseshoe stuck up my ass. To be essentially neurologically intact, able to walk, talk, type and do everything, amazes me and is a testament to the body's ability to tolerate great injury-especially something so fragile as the central nervous system.

    While in the hospital, many of the staff shared with me stories of colleagues, friends and family members who were far less fortunate than I.

    The cause? Almost forgot. 15% of cases of PMSAH have no identifiable cause and it seems that it's been studied only since about 1985. The neurosurgeon is quite sure that a rise in blood pressure during my workout was what caused the bleed. My poor exercise tolerance over the couple of weeks leading up to the ER visit could've been related. Or not.

    Because it requires no surgical intervention, the specialists have deemed this to be a, "benign," type of hemorrhage. Although the mortality rate from PMSAH is less than SAH due to aneuysm, I'm not sure that any brain hemorrhage can be classified as, "benign."

    I'll likely get a baseline neuro-rehab consult and make sure there are no deficits that I'm not picking up on. Slowly increase activity and eventually start driving again.

    Rally racing? Let's just say I'm happy to be able to sit here and make my fingers work and have my neurons fire at the moment. The risk assessment skills I developed over years of racing allowed me to run through a physical checklist during this crisis, and I thank racing for that. Prioritizing and thinking rationally under pressure is a good skill to have.

    So I'll end with some advice. Pretty standard stuff. Eat well, be well, exercise, see your medical provider regularly. Even if you're healthy-I certainly look good on paper-doesn't mean you're immune from catastrophe.

    If you're brain is sending you warning signals, LISTEN TO THEM! I can't emphasize that enough. We all have a built in DEFCON 3 warning system that us in the medical establishment call, "a sense of dread." Seems to be hardwired, and an antidote, to that that thought-"I'm sure it's nothing-I'll be fine." Listen to your gut and stay safe.

    A huge thank you to all the nurses, technologists, specialists that cared for me in the hospital. Thanks to my family, friends and the LDR team for being there in my time of need. You all hold a very special place in my heart.

    Cheers! JoMo


    For Immediate Release

    Bangor, Maine USA

    Maine's Last Ditch Racing rally team kicks off 2012 season with select summer events

    Driver John Cassidy (Bangor, ME) and codriver Jennifer Daly (Kelowna, BC) will begin the Last Ditch Racing rally season this summer with an event on each side of the border. The LDR team has been hard at work on their Subaru STi, restoring it after an intense but successful 2011 season.

    "Last Ditch racing has been rallying consistently since 1999, and this year we are choosing to focus on our favourite events. This summer we'll be pushing hard at two of the most popular and challenging rallies in North America."

    Initially the team will head North to compete at the Rallye Baie des Chaleurs in New Richmond, Quebec. "Baie is one of the most popular Canadian Rally Championship events. The crowds of passionate fans and some of the most intense stages in North America keep us going back to Baie year after year."

    Soon after Baie, the team will reprep the car for its home event, the New England Forest Rally. "We haven't missed a Maine Forest Rally / New England Forest Rally for the past thirteen years, but I think we still have more speed to show on our home roads. We really enjoy the rough and challenging stages stages, and all the extra support from all our local fans."

    Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2012 partners for their support:

    Triple Caution, LLC,
    DTECH Motorsport,


    The Driven Life: Efficient and Effective Communication in Rally

    by John Cassidy, Rally Driver and bon vivant
    Edited by Adrian Segura

    For the third installment of Last Ditch Racing's, "The Driven Life," I want to discuss the concepts of efficient and effective communication.

    In the sport of rallying, the co-driver's job is to manage information flow to the driver. The information has to reach the driver in a timely manner(more on that later), and in a format that is easy for the driver to process and comprehend.

    In the rally car, the co-driver and I don't have a discussion when we're on stage. If we're having a discussion, something is likely wrong and we're standing on the side of the road next to a broken car. ;-)

    During recce (reconnaissance) of the special stages(closed roads that we race down as fast as we can), we create our own pacenotes that describe every bit of the road. This includes, "pace," modifiers that would signify when we should push or exercise caution. Examples of these notes are, "max," "flat," "cut," "don't cut," "caution," etc.

    The remainder of the notes describes the direction of the road, as well as corners, crests and distance between them.

    Pacenotes are a specific language that has been developed over the years to help crews increase their pace. These are written from scratch, usually over two passes of a special stage during recce. Stage notes are often supplied at events where recce is either not possible or only one pass of the stage is possible. These are detailed notes created by a sophisticated computer system installed in a car. A routebook could be considered a skeleton description of the stage, with only major turns and hazards noted. During routebook events, driver's would, "drive what you see," with the co-driver helping to spot hazards visually.

    In a higher speed car, efficient AND effective communication is of the utmost importance. With little room for error at speed, a single missed/misunderstood note could lead to an, "off," or a wreck in layman's terms.

    Now that we understand that efficient and effective communication is paramount in a fast and dangerous sport and in turn, requires a synergistic relationship between driver and co-driver, let's look at some examples of communication in the rally car.

    As a driver, I'm responsible for dictating the notes to the co-driver during recce. That said, we sometimes have discussions about the best way to note hazards and certain stretches of the stage. There can also be disagreement about how to note a particular section.

    Distances are a good example of efficiency. Depending on which country you rally in, you'll likely note distances in yards or meters. We try to be as accurate as possible with these distances, since distance is crucial in low visibility situations like fog, dust or sunlight glare. The co-driver can look at the rally computer and have a sense of how much further to the next corner, hopefully removing some of the tentativeness and allowing for later braking for the driver.

    A distance of "50," versus, "seventy-five," doesn't seem like much. Fifty meters is a short distance when you're traveling at speed. Seventy-five has once more syllable than fifty. I know, you're thinking I've gone around the bend. One syllable makes a difference?! The time it takes for a co-driver to speak that extra syllable can.

    Short distances under 50 meters are often changed to "and," or "into" in the pacenotes. Those short distances at speed take too much time for the co-driver to enunciate, potentially leading to a delay in the next note. "And," is reserved for two corners that are linked, but there is a perceptible distance between. "Into," corners are directly linked. Picture a left/right "S" shaped turn and you have an idea of what, "left 3 into right 3," looks like in the real world.

    Rarely do I ask for a note to be repeated on stage. Asking for a note to be repeated means one of two things: either I'm overwhelmed and can't keep up with the information being presented to me or I'm not paying attention. Asking my co-driver to repeat a note increases the chance that she/he will get lost in their notes, especially in busy sections. Repeating notes to me when I don't ask for it could cause me to doubt where I am on the stage. Some drivers prefer certain notes to be repeated. If you're paying attention to your co-driver, I think it's unnecessary. We reserve repetition for double and triple caution notes.

    I'll only ask for clarification or a repeat if I didn't hear the note clearly or if I've been flustered and had to focus more outside myself, like correcting the car when it's gotten out of shape or when we've had a near off. Sometimes we have to find a way to gather ourselves up again and reset the information streaming process.


    Crests, or small changes in increased elevation from the surrounding plane of the road on either side of the section of road are a particular sticking point for me in the notes. There are small crests, large crests, long crests, crests that could be a, "jump maybe." Any of these crests could be, "flat" crests. This means that I'm not to lift off the accelerator.

    Take all those modifiers and add a turn that either leads into the crest, leads into and goes over the crest, or begins after the crest. Perhaps there's a different direction turn on either side and you have to change direction on top of the crest.

    When we ran the inaugural Targa Newfoundland, we were given a routebook that had a note that read as a, "right over crest." What existed in reality was a, "crest into a right turn." I set the car up on the right side of the crest and as we came over, the road jogged a smidge to the left, and I found both passenger tires in the gravel. This led to a spin, and I nearly put our Subaru into a cliff face. We escaped with a flat tire and made it to the end of the stage, eventually winning our class at the event.

    Another incident with a crest occurred at a Canadian Rally. We were given notes that were prepared for us as recce was not an option. The specific note in question, indicated a left turn over crest. Again, it was a short right over crest into left turn. Many of us stayed to the left side of the crest (which actually was a jump for most of us). Unfortunately, there was a large rock on the left side of the road that happened to be directly in line with our left front tire when we landed. We struck the rock while airborne in third gear. All the teeth on third gear sheared off as the rock stopped the front wheel from turning while all the others tried to continue on. The carnage was measured in the tens-of-thousands of dollars for several top teams and it was a literal rally car yard sale in the landing zone after the crest. My co-driver came back to the car with a part he thought was ours, and then realized it was the wrong color!

    Crests are a points of concern for me due to the potential for damage to the car and crew. Crests are also the epitome of trust between drivers and co-drivers. If it's a flat crest, I'll take it flat. If we got the note wrong or are lost in the notes, well, you can guess the outcome (rally car yard sale).

    So we use the shortest words possible; we avoid words that could be misunderstood. Using, "right," or "correct," as an affirmative answer is inefficient. "Yes," is one syllable and gets it done. "Right," happens to be a direction, so it's potentially dangerous!

    While the need for efficient communication at speed is perhaps obvious, the effective component can be a bit more subtle to grasp. In order for the communication in the rally car to be effective, it has to be timely and it has to come from a trusted source.

    Trust is usually total and implicit between drivers and co-drivers. But what if the co-driver is having a bad day? What if they're lost in the notes. Turned two pages? Once, "back on the notes," it may take the co-driver a few corners to feel confident they truly are back on. The driver might hold the pace back a bit until he/she is sure that the co-driver is back on.

    When in doubt, slow down.

    What about timing? Critical information doesn't work well for a driver if it's too late or too early. If the information is too late, then I'm driving what I see and have to slow down. When this happens, I'll indicate to the co-driver they're behind in the notes by either saying, "done it," or "in it." This allows them to increase the pace of note delivery. Co-driving is extremely challenging because the notes are often two corners ahead. While this might be ideal for me, when the co-driver looks out the window, what they see may not be the note they just called. It might not be visible yet.

    If the information is too early, there's a good chance it'll slip out of my mental buffer before I can utilize it. Three corners early is my maximum retention, but I prefer two. That being said, if there's a one kilometer straight, I don't want to hear about the two corners at the end of it until we're almost there.

    My rally instructor, Champion Tim O'Neil, once told me, "If you're not listening to your co-driver, you better figure out why and fix it!"

    Have you ever had someone tell you a rambling story that didn't come to a conclusion, or punch line? Does that frustrate you? If so, you might make a good rally driver or co-driver.

    Communication efficiency is important when interacting with the service crew as well. A twenty-minute service is not a long time. More often that not, the car goes up, wheels come off and all major fasteners are checked for tightness. Fluids are checked and topped off and windscreen/lights are cleaned. That's in addition to any damage that might need attention.

    A rally weekend is experienced by the second. Schedules, stage results, scheduled time in to timing controls and service. It is mentally and physically taxing and we make every effort to maximize communication efficiency and effective so that we can go faster. Trust is implicit between myself and my co-driver.

    There is a running joke during the rally weekend that I have to do everything I'm told once the rally starts. As a bit of a control freak, that's often more than a bit difficult, but we have fun with it and in order to go faster, I have to trust my co-driver and team and give the control to them so that I can focus on my job as the driver.

    Thanks to all the co-drivers who have buckled in with me over the years to share the ride!

    Stay tuned for more installments of, "The Driven Life!" We'll cover topics like nutrition, fitness, mental pacing, car preparation and other topics. Please feel free to leave comments about topics you'd like to see covered and we'll see what we can do!

    Cheers! John Cassidy, aka JOMO


    The Driven Life

    John Cassidy, Rally Driver
    Adrian Segura, editor

    For this second installment in Last Ditch Racing's, "The Driven Life," series, I wanted to focus on situational awareness.

    If you're a pilot or perhaps an operator in the U.S. Special Forces, you already know what situational awareness is.

    For purposes of driving, I consider situational awareness the knowledge of where you are in immediate space at any given moment and a exhibiting a constant reassessment of the environment around you.

    This is critical while in the rally car, but perhaps it is even more important on my daily run to Starbucks for coffee in the morning.  

    In T-4, our rally car, there are all sorts of things that I have to attend to while racing.  There are things inside the car, like temperature, fumes, noises as well as other physical feedback I receive through my body's contact with the car.  I'm also looking outside the car, primarily as far ahead as possible.  I like to think of the information coming through the windshield and into my ears from the codriver as a stream of data that enters the windshield and exits through the back of the my helmet.  Once that point of time and space is past, it's no longer important.  As rally drivers, we're often processing information from the co-driver that pertains to segments of the road that we can't see, while still working on the piece of road we're negotiating.  Some professional drivers in the World Rally Championship (WRC) like to have road information 3-4 corners ahead.  Depending on the stage, I usually prefer two corners ahead.

    Hyper-vigilant is how I'd describe the state of the racing crew (driver and co-driver) is in while on stage.  We're hyper-sensitive to everything.  The processing of information, when things are going well, is effortless.   The amount of data that our brains are processing at any second is quite amazing.

    How does this relate to that trip to Starbucks in the morning?  I'll give you some examples.  Here in Maine, I warm my car up before I head out.  I don't want to be distracted by my own complaining of how cold it is or distracted by my own shivering.  Comfort.  Preheating the car also ensures that the windshield is clear. For those who don't have to worry about warming up their car (and those who do), how's your interface with the controls?  Steering wheel tilted correctly?  Seat adjusted?  Mirrors?  Lights on?  I drive with my lights on all the time (my car doesn't have DRL), because I'm of the mind that being more visible is a good thing.

    Being aware of the size of your vehicle and specifically where the corners of it are is important.  This is especially true when you're driving a car/truck that's unfamiliar to you.

    I start my tunes playing before I leave the driveway so that I'm not fumbling with phone (or any other digital music device) controls as I drive into the sun towards town (in the winter, I'm driving due East towards the highway and it's truly blinding).  Sunglasses already on if needed.

    There's a temptation to feel rushed when pulling into morning commuter traffic on my road.  People obviously have places they want to be and their driving reflects that.  I consciously try and loosen my grip on the wheel and make sure I take a couple deep breaths as I progress onto the road.  Acceleration is smooth, but not aggressive.  The engine may be warm, but the transmission and differentials are not.

    At each light, I can usually see the crossing traffic signal, so I have an idea when my respective signal will go green.  I don't do this to jump the light;it's just another aspect of situational awareness.  When I get the green, I always check that the crossing traffic has stopped.  Stopping safely at a red light is Driver's Ed 101, but I see people blow red lights every morning.

    Merging onto the highway is a challenge I enjoy.  Most Mainers are courteous and pull left to allow you to merge, but not always. I adjust my driver's side mirror so that I can see, "back" up the highway as I go down the ramp. This is done so that I can plan my merge.  I nearly get to highway speed, but I am always wary of the cars ahead.  Have you ever been behind someone that stops on a highway on ramp?!  Me too.  Just to jog everyone's memories, merging traffic does NOT have the right of way. The traffic on the highway does. If you have to stop, you have to stop.

    Checking your blind spot without changing lanes takes some practice, especially at speed.  This is a good practice point.  On a clear section of road, check your blind spot for a few seconds and see how much you drift off your intended line of travel. Consciously relaxing your grip on the wheel will help prevent drift.  

    On the highway, maybe that nice guy/gal that pulled left to let you in needs to get off at the next exit.  Resist the urge to speed up and keep them out of the right lane.  Take a couple more deep breaths and have a situational check.  Who's beside you?  Who's in front?  Who's in back?  Patience is a virtue, especially in a town like mine where the quickest way to get across town is the highway.

    Another game I'll often play while on the road is trying to guess people's intentions by the way they're driving.  Even without them stepping on their brake lights, could you sense they were slowing down?  Could you sense that the driver in front is driving tentatively, perhaps looking for a street address?  Do you notice someone on their phone or leaning in towards the center console like they're looking for that Hello Kitty change purse they dropped?  Now is likely not a good time to pass them.

    I'll often play a game with myself and try to adhere to the speed limit for the few miles until my exit.  Have you ever noticed that you tend to speed up when that fellow commuter starts to pass you?  Me neither!  ;-)

    As in the race car, I try to look as far down the road as I can.  I watch for brakes lights ahead,sometimes through the windshields of other cars.  I avoid staying behind big trucks that obscure my view.

    Most dangers in rally lay in front of you.  On the street, they can exist in all directions, but mainly forward and rearward.  A distracted driver behind can easily rear-end you as you come to a stop.  Someone can stop quickly 10 cars ahead, causing a pileup in the blink of an eye.

    In our current age of multifunction devices in the car, it often seems the last thing we're focused on is actually driving the car:this mutli-thousand pound weapon of steel with huge kinetic energy!  

    Is being hyper-vigilant on the street stressful or tiring?  It may be initially, but becomes second nature with practice.  It can be a calm and relaxed state of mind that will keep you, your passengers and other motorists safe.

    If you're usually aware and find yourself not, be introspective.  Are you tired?  Cranky?  Intoxicated?  Overly competitive with other drivers?  Do you need to let someone else drive?  Don't let your ego affect your safety.

    I figure if I can make it safely to Starbucks, I can make it to the start of the next rally.

    If you missed the initial short discussion on left foot braking, please visit the LDR Facebook page at

    Be safe and stay driven! John


    Alright folks, time for some more of JoMo's musings.

    Today's musings are about relationships, and specifically rally relationships. I fear there will be lots of cliche's bandied about, but I'm ok with that.

    Last Ditch Racing has been around since 1999. That's a bit old in rallying. There are plenty of other folks that have been rallying longer, but I'm not sure there are many North American, "teams," that have existed for much longer.

    Like any team, we've had people come and go over the years. Some have had life get in the way of their rallying. Others have transitioned from crew to driver/co-driver.

    Through it all, the common thread is that LDR is a family. To see the guys gather in the shop in their off time, discussing the merits of a modification to the car or the latest alt-rock release is special.

    In the shop, we do something that's not done much anymore. We talk to each other. We interact without a layer of electronica transcribing and morphing our original intent. We often stumble because it's somewhat foreign in this day and age.

    Don't get me wrong, we still receive and send texts in the shop! We can't afford to go into complete tech detox!

    But something else important happens. We share information and end up teaching each other skills. Things that you have to learn to do: welding, fabrication, reading a torque wrench(or how not to). The process of problem solving and collective bargaining that it entails is always entertaining.

    We actually work with our hands and make things! Those hands get dirty, and usually bloody. The industrial hand cleaner on the wall in the bathroom of my house is a serves as a focal point for a barn session debrief. We often get 4-5 dirty, smiling guys in a small room with a cat box and appliances. Surreal...

    The relationships on the team seem to have more import to them than others in my life not involved with rally.

    Part of that is the shared experience. Most folks outside of rally don't understand it like those of us that do it. That shared experience causes us to seek each other out to talk about and do rally stuff.

    Another important facet is that we're building something together that's unique. A rally team! And not just any rally team. One of the most consistent privateer teams in the sport with an awesome record. LDR has morphed itself into an entity somewhat synergistic of all our individual inputs.

    The team members ebb and flow in terms of their investment of time, coming around when they can, and not when they can't. The team exists somewhat separate from our collective participation. Interesting...

    I do not exaggerate when I say that I trust my life to the LDR crew. Every bolt that's torqued. Every modification to the car. Hurtling down a forest road in the dark at 100mph is not the time to wonder if Duncan remembered to torque the front balljoint! ;-)

    And what about the Co-drivers?! That relationship is a whole different kettle of fish, and likely will be another blog installment.

    So, to all the LDR crew: Bronson, Duncan, Eric, Dave, Maygen, Margaret, Jon, Drew G, Drew S, Nate, Cullen, Erik, John V, Zach, Kevin, Rob, Nate S. and all the others over the years....thanks for disconnecting from the internet and getting tired, dirty and bloody with me. You are all family and will always be considered a part of LDR and her history.

    When you guys swarm on T-4 in a service and check every nut and bolt and then send us back up into the ether with reassurance that she's 110% and a mandate to push as hard as we can, it's a very proud moment for us in the car.

    Together we've made a lot of memories! So many stories that some of us are starting to lose track of them! Be well my friends. See you in the shop at Triple Caution Farm when I see you! JoMo


    For Immediate Release

    Bangor, Maine USA

    September 22, 2011

    Maine's Last Ditch Racing rally team makes rally history in partnership with Canada's X-Vision. Working together, the two have pioneered the use of their 360 degree video technology in a stage rally car.

    Driver John Cassidy and Co-Driver Jennifer Daly faced considerable adversity during the recent Rallye Defi, round four of the Canadian Rally Championship to obtain the video.

    Said Cassidy, "When we were approached by X-Vision about pioneering the application of their technology in a rally car, we ware on board immediately. When I saw what the technology was capable of, I was blown away! The possibilities of this technology are mind-boggling for action sports like rally. Through this partnership, we're able to give the end user the ability to immerse themselves in the car and the event, panning and tilting the video through a full 360 degrees. There are views of the rally car that neither I, nor anyone else has ever seen!"

    Last Ditch Racing is no stranger to pioneering technology. They were the first rally team in history to do a daily podcast from a WRC event, when they competed at the 2006 Corona Rally Mexico. "Although we're competitors, we're also huge fans of the sport in general. Anything we can do to promote the sport and expose it to new audiences is very exciting to us."

    The team enjoyed a successful 2011, securing two podiums and two Open Class wins en route to Cassidy's win of the Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class Championship.

    John and Jennifer want to extend a special thank you to their crew for the 2011 season: Drew Gladu, Duncan Matlack, Nathan Haskell, Jon Bolduc, Zach Sennett, Cullen Gillis, Bronson Crothers, Kevin Sennett and John Cassidy V and Craig Greenwell.

    To see the result of Last Ditch Racing and X-Vision's partnership, please visit:

    For more information on X-Vision, please visit:

    Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2011 Partners for their support:

    DTECH Motorsport,
    VP Racing fuels,
    Triple Caution, LLC,

    For more information on Last Ditch Racing:
    Social Networking: Search for us on Facebook and Myspace.

    To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit:


    For Immediate Release

    September 18, 2011

    Bangor, Maine USA

    Last Ditch Racing overcame significant adversity to finish Rallye Defi, round four of the 2011 Canadian Rally Championship.

    Driver John Cassidy and Co-Driver Jennifer Daly started Friday's stages with a failing front differential and an elusive oil leak near the turbocharger, which continued to cause considerable smoke in, and around, the car all weekend.

    The front differential began to make odd noises on the transit to the first super special Friday, and the crew feared that their event could be over that day. The crew were concerned the turbo might be failing, so it was replaced with a spare unit prior to the event start. The spare turbo was a smaller unit and the only restrictor the team had that fit was smaller than the diameter required, meaning they'd be down on power all weekend.

    The crew was also preoccupied with providing partner X-Vision with some quality onboard video to help showcase their immersive video technology. Said Cassidy, "We were definitely feeling stressed on Friday. The fact that the car wasn't running well, coupled with the very short stages and long transits, was difficult. Trying to balance some sort of pace with longevity through the day was quite difficult."

    Cassidy/Daly made it through Friday, but an issue with a computer cable meant that no video had been recorded for the X-Vision crew. "X-Vision's Louis Charland was was devastated, but in true rally fashion, he and his crew regrouped and met us Saturday morning at 05:00 after returning to Montreal to troubleshoot the system. We were able to get footage for X-Vision on the first two stages of Saturday. Judging from the response from the X-Vision team, you would've thought we'd won the event!"

    In spite of all the adversity, Cassidy/Daly pushed their Subaru STi throughout Saturdays' stages. The day had it's fair share of drama, however, when the Cassidy miscalculated on fuel load and ran out of fuel just outside of the service park in Montpelier. "I thought something was wrong with the engine-it sounded like it was detonating. I had a sick feeling in my stomach, but when I looked at the fuel gauge, I was actually relieved!" said Cassidy. Cassidy and Daly were forced to push the car about 40 yards uphill into the service park. "Jenn and I got a real workout pushing T-4 into service and the crew got theirs pushing us out of service."

    The day continued with the team slowly rising up the order to gain 4 places on the final day. "We were off the pace all weekend, but I can't recall an event filled with this much adversity for quite some time." said Cassidy. "We we working with a car that was not 100% from the outset, while dealing with one issue after another. The crew was busy all weekend long, which is rare for us. They got 4 hours sleep in 48."

    The event sees the team complete an ambitious 5 event season. Starting with the winter Rallye Perce Neige, followed by the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Rallye Baie des Chaleurs and the New England Forest Rally. "To say we're ready for a break is an understatement. The car needs quite a bit of attention. That said, we're looking at some off season upgrades and a strong return in 2012. Jennifer and I have developed a great relationship in the car, and it has paid dividends with multiple podiums for us this season."

    The team enjoyed a successful 2011, securing two podiums and two Open Class wins en route to Cassidy's win of the Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class Championship.

    John and Jennifer want to extend a special thank you to their crew for the 2011 season: Drew Gladu, Duncan Matlack, Nathan Haskell, Jon Bolduc, Zach Sennett, Cullen Gillis, Bronson Crothers, Kevin Sennett and John Cassidy V and Craig Greenwell.

    Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2011 Partners for their support:

    DTECH Motorsport,
    VP Racing fuels,
    Triple Caution, LLC,

    For more information on Last Ditch Racing:
    Social Networking: Search for us on Facebook and Myspace.

    To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit:


    For Immediate Release

    Bangor, Maine USA

    Maine's Last Ditch Racing completed an ambitious month of racing;
    competing in three events in four weeks, in two different countries.
    They clinched the 2011 Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class
    Championship and two podiums in the process.

    Driver John Cassidy of Bangor, Maine and Co-Driver Jennifer Daly from Kelowna,
    British Columbia started their summer season with a second place in the R1 Rally
    class at the Climb to the Clouds, a hill climb up New Hampshire's Mt. Washington
    Auto Road.

    First run in 1904, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb is the oldest
    motorsport event in the United States. Last run in 2001, Cassidy
    jumped at the opportunity to compete in the event. "Jennifer and I
    had no idea what to expect on the mountain. What we encountered was both a
    technical and psychological challenge. The weather and visibility
    were constantly changing, forcing us to push in low visibility on
    roads with significant exposures." The event marked the first time
    that Daly and Cassidy have worked as a team since the 2008 Rallye Defi
    in Quebec. "We were ecstatic with a podium finish at the event, as we
    had no prior experience on the mountain. Having to run a restrictor
    in the turbo certainly kept our speeds down at altitude, but we pushed
    as much as we dared in the limited visibility at the top of the mountain.
    Our rally experience definitely served us well on the often wet surface
    and challenging visibility."

    The following week found the team in New Richmond, Quebec for the
    Rallye Baie des Chaleurs. One of LDR's favorite Canadian events, the
    technical and rough stages of Baie suit Cassidy's driving style. The
    team was setting top ten stage times on Friday night, until they
    had an off, striking a bridge with their Subaru STi on SS6. The front
    suspension suffered terminal damage, and they were forced to retire
    from the event. "It was a bittersweet return to Canada. We had not
    been at Baie since 2008, and we were having a great time on stage.
    Jennifer and I were settling into the car and getting up to speed
    quite well. I came into the corner with too much speed and
    understeered into the bridge. It was a very heavy hit, and we were
    very lucky not to have done more damage to the car or ourselves."

    Two weeks on and many repairs later, the team attended their home event, the
    2011 New England Forest Rally, headquartered at the Sunday River
    Resort in Newry, Maine. The twelfth consecutive showing for Last
    Ditch Racing at the event, the notoriously rough roads are home for Cassidy.
    "The New England Forest Rally has a reputation for being rough, and this
    year was no exception. For some, the rocks are intimidating, but I'm used to
    pushing on rough events." The rough roads were new to codriver Jennifer Daly:
    "During recce I was surprised by both the softness of the sand in some spots, and by the
    size of the painted rocks on the road, but John hasn't missed this event in over 11 years,
    so I was very confident in his ability to be fast through these strange conditions."

    The National event spans both Friday and Saturday's stages, and each day is
    considered a separate Regional Rally. Cassidy and Daly set quick
    times on Friday, but unbeknownst to them, Jason Smith and Jared
    Lantzy, driving LDR's original Subaru, T-1, held a lead of 7 seconds
    on the LDR team going into the final stage of the night, the famous
    Concord Pond stage. Cassidy and Daly were unaware of their overall
    standing, and the team goal was to set a new personal record on
    Concord Pond. At the end of the stage, the crew had bested LDR's stage
    record; 12 seconds quicker over just 5.75 miles, and secured the win over
    Smith/Lantzy by 13 seconds. "Having both LDR cars on the podium was
    great. Concord Pond is an epic stage and we wanted to push for all
    the fans that come out to spectate. Taking the overall win and first
    in Open Class was a fantastic end to the day!"

    Saturday's regional event opened with the longest stage of the day,
    where the LDR team posted the fastest time of the regional competitors
    by nearly 1.5 minutes over Smith/Lantzy. A flat on the second stage dashed
    any hope of an outright victory for the day, despite setting the best time on every
    other stage. "We had a flat and the tire started to delaminate quite quickly.
    We had 5 miles left in the stage and it was a very technical section.
    The car wasn't turning well and it would have been dangerous to continue.
    Changing a tire on stage is always costly, but sometimes
    it's the best choice." The team was awarded first in class for
    Saturday's event.

    2011 has been another development year for the team, with a new engine
    and other technical changes to the car. The addition of Canadian co-driver
    Jennifer Daly to the team has also had a significant impact on LDR's
    recent success. "Jennifer strapped into the co-driver's seat like
    she's always been there. The communication in the car is very good and
    we both feel there's still more speed to be had on stage." The
    team's future schedule is yet to be determined and likely won't be
    finalized until damage assessment is completed on the car after this
    difficult schedule of events. For Daly, the possibility of rejoining
    the LDR team is attractive: "It's very exciting to have some success
    early on with a new driver and codriver match. John and the LDR crew
    are prepared and competitive; I was very happy to be a part of such a
    fun and tight knit team. When we set out to do three events in four
    weeks, it seemed a little crazy, but with the right people and some
    hard work, just about anything is possible."

    The team is appreciative of support from Mirraco, a BMX bicycle company founded
    by actions sports athlete Dave Mirra. Mirra supplied the team some of his personally
    autographed signature Bell helmets, which the LDR team gave to young fans at the rally.

    John and Jennifer want to extend a special thank you to their crew for 2011:
    Drew Gladu, Duncan Matlack, Nathan Haskell, Jon Bolduc, Zach Sennett,
    Cullen Gillis, Bronson Crothers, Kevin Sennett and John Cassidy V.
    "Rally is a truly brutal sport on the car and without the support of
    our talented and dedicated crew, we wouldn't think about leaving the
    start line!"

    The team would also like to thank Dave Heerdegen of DTECH Motorsport
    in New Zealand for his support in tuning the car's engine after all the recent
    modifications. "Dave has been an invaluable resource for us over the past
    two seasons, and we owe a lot of our recent success to his hard work."

    Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2011 Partners for their
    continued support:

    DTECH Motorsport,
    VP Racing fuels,
    Triple Caution, LLC,

    For more information on Last Ditch Racing:
    Social Networking: Search for us on Facebook and Myspace.

    To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit:


    Mt. Washington, New Hampshire to be exact.

    Co-Driver Jennifer Daly and myself arrived at the mountain Wednesday and completed registration, followed by a quick drive up the mountain, as she'd not seen it before. Weather was beautiful and the scenery stunning. We then took T-4.5 through tech and she passed without issue or concern.

    The discipline of hillclimbing is a bit different than rally. It's a specialized discipline and most of the competitors have arrived with specialized vehicles. For us rallyists, we have the luxury of having a co-driver on board, but the potential disadvantage of being a bit outside our comfort zone on the mountain.

    The psychological challenge is likely worse than the reality of racing up the mountain. After making several passes during recce today(Thursday), we've begun to do the specialized work that is writing our own pacenotes for the road. This increases our focus on the task and really serves to bring our heads back in the car, instead of outside thinking of exposures and such...

    Jennifer likened one of the ditches(really just a section, but the comparison applies to the entire mountain) as a gaping mouth filled with rocky teeth. I don't want to play dentist this weekend.

    Weather will likely be the deciding factor this weekend. While nice yesterday, it's been raining all day, resulting in them closing half the mountain to traffic this afternoon. It was very difficult to recce the top half of the road due to poor visibility and our notes will likely need to be fine-tuned during practice runs tomorrow and Saturday.

    While very familiar with driving in all sorts of weather on all sorts of surfaces, the Mountain presents all sorts of challenges. There is a change from tarmac to gravel back to tarmac. Tire choice is a compromise. If it rains(which seems likely), slicks won't be a great choice.

    Rookie driver meeting tonight, dinner and then arrival of part of our crew. Tomorrow is practice, either lower or upper half of the mountain, depending on weather. Practice times will determine start order, so there may be some strategy. Do we go quickly and risk the car? Do we dial it back a bit and make sure the notes are ok, risking being seeded lower in the start for Sunday? I don't really have a good answer.

    While we focus on our task here, we also have been firming up plans for next weekend's Rallye Baie des Chaleurs in New Richmond Quebec. Very excited to get back to this incredible event! Two weeks later, we'll be at the New England Forest Rally, headquartered at Sunday River.

    I think I'll need a vacation afterward.

    Be sure and follow us on and

    Cheers! John


    For Immediate Release, 5/10/11

    Bangor, Maine USA

    Maine's Last Ditch Racing rally team is looking forward to an ambitious mid-season programme, competing in three championship caliber events in the span of 4 weeks. The team started their 2011 season at the snowy Rallye Perce Neige in Quebec.

    Joining driver John Cassidy in the right seat as Co-Driver for the next three events will be Co-Driver Jennifer Daly from Kelowna, British Columbia. Daly is not only a stage Co-Driver, she is also a TSD and Rally-X driver and rally volunteer based in Kelowna BC. Daly is currently working as the Director of Operations for Targa Canada West as well as being the organizer of the Big White Winter Rally. Cassidy and Daly teamed up three years ago at Rallye Defi in Quebec, but their event was cut short by contaminated fuel. "Jennifer and I definitely have some unfinished business on stage as a team, and this opportunity seemed like the perfect time to reconnect and give it another go!," said Cassidy.

    Said Daly, "Joining the LDR team for three events in a row is a great chance to develop a real working relationship in the car, so we can push to be competitive. Last time I Co-Drove John it was a real adventure, and a lot of fun, so I'm really looking forward to a full month of summer rallying with the Last Ditch Racing crew."

    Cassidy and Daly will compete in the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, one of the oldest motorsport events in the United States. A scant week later, they'll be in New Richmond Quebec for the Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, the second round of the 2011 Canadian National Championship. Two weeks later, they'll suit up again for the New England Forest Rally, the fourth round of the Rally America Championship. This is the densest schedule the team has undertaken. "For it to all work out, we need to prep the car 110%, and then add a dollop of good Irish luck to the mix." The team is no stranger to ambitious schedules, having once raced at the Rocky Mountain Rally near Calgary, Alberta and in the forests of Pennsylvania on consecutive weekends in different cars.

    "This schedule will take us from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, to the shores of the Gaspee pennisula in Quebec to the forests of Maine in the span of a month. We'll be debuting a new motor for the car, which should help us be more competitive. In addition, we're planning on unveiling a new graphic design for our Subaru STi, known as Steel Tulip 4." Since the team has been racing Subarus, they've been liveried in silver, with red Tulip diagrams, giving the car it's name. Long time graphic/vinyl artist Chuck Stephenson has been helping Cassidy craft a new look for the team.

    The opportunity to compete in the Climb to the Clouds event holds special meaning for Cassidy. "The Climb to the Clouds stopped running not long after I began my rallying career, and I never got a chance to compete against the Mountain. It's an amazing challenge for any driver, and I'm both excited and nervous to tackle it." From the Climb to the Clouds website; "Now billed as one of the oldest morotsports events in the United States, the Climb to the Clouds was first run in 1904, seven years before the first 500-mile race at the Brickyard in Indianapolis and 12 years prior to the inaugural Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado. Run sporadically throughout the years, many famous racecar drivers and automobile manufacturers have competed in the event through its' colorful history." Cassidy and Daly will be part of the 10 car rally class, consisting of 5 Subarus and 5 Mitsubishis. The entire field of over 75 entrants encompasses everything from open class hillclimb specials, a big rig and vintage racers.

    Regular LDR right-seater Dave Getchell is taking a well deserved break from the hectic pace that is normal for a championship team. Said Cassidy, "Dave and I have been racing nearly non-stop for the past 7-8 seasons-contesting very full schedules both in the US and Canada. It takes a serious commitment of time and energy for both of us to field the team and Dave is taking a deserved break. LDR would not have the profile in the sport, or the palmares we do without Dave's contribution."

    "All of us on the LDR team push, and pride ourselves, in fielding a well prepared and competitive car. Jennifer and I will be doing our best to make the crew, fans and our families proud in June and July!"

    Last Ditch Racing's next event will be the Climb to the Clouds, Mt. Washington NH, June 2011. For more information, please visit:

    Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2011 Partners for their continued support:

    VP Racing fuels,
    Triple Caution, LLC,

    For more information on Rallye Perce Neige, please visit:

    For more information on Last Ditch Racing:
    Social Networking: Search for us on Facebook and Myspace.

    To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit: