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Recently in JoMo's Musings Category

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


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


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

46 days....

posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Notice today on Facebook kind of hit me upside the head. 46 days until Rallye Perce Neige!? So much for an, "off season." ;-)

To be fair, we've had a few months, as we sat out the Tall Pines Rally so that we could regroup. Trying to fit life issues into a full time rally schedule can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

I was watching the new Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino vid about their 7 days from 100 Acre Wood Rally to WRC Mexico. We've had some weekends like that. In fact, we had one exactly like that a few years ago when we competed in WRC event in a pokey Peugeot 206. What a blast. I'll also never forget how we competed at the Rocky Mountain Rally and STPR on consecutive weekends. Two events, two weekends, two countries, two cars. Epic.

I know you're all thinking-get to the point, JoMo! Why did you decide to crank up the LDR submission page and craft a missive from the icy North?! I'd love to tell you it's earth shattering, but it's not. It's more of an introspective post, perhaps.

This time, it's about getting older and the process of trying to roll with that. Some of you have followed my mid-life fitness adventures over the past couple of years. Gym, personal trainer, cycling, kettlebells, martial arts-it's been quite a ride. Never having pushed my physical envelope before, I look to my trainer Scott to help keep me safe(and make me nauseous). He pushes me, don't get me wrong, but I've yet to injure myself training.

Now aging, that's another unknown frontier about as unknown as the gym was to me a couple years ago. This past summer, I developed a tremor in my left thumb. I jotted the day it began on my calendar. It's not that big or noticeable to others, but I can feel it. It actually started while I was seeing patients. I looked down at my hand holding the laptop and saw a vibrating thumb. I thought, "That's weird." Next thought, "That can't be good." What did I do? I did what anybody would do and googled, "thumb tremor." One of the first things to come up? Parkinson's. Runs in the family. Fan-friggin-tastic, I thought.

And so it went. Bloodwork, MRI's and several specialist visits later, I've been given the green light. I'm one of the, "worried well," as we in medicine like to call our patients who have complaints we can't find a basis for.

While it was somewhat flattering to have the most recent specialist describe me as, "fit," the whole business still leave me unsettled.

Why get so worked up about the whole thing?! I am getting older-I know what you're all thinkg-"it looks like you're getting younger JoMo," but the dates don't lie! ;-) I have a family and I need to make sure I can provide for them and be able to perform the duties of my job. Honestly, the biggest concern from a safety standpoint for me is rally. Why such a big concern? When Dave and I strap in, we're responsible for each other to the best of our mental and physical ability. I need to know that I'm not putting Dave or myself(or spectators, volunteers or other compeitors) at risk when I push on the go pedal.

So, what's the tremor? Apparently, "just a tremor." Fact remains that I never had it before and really don't want it now. Will it go away? Likely not. Get worse? How the F do I know.

Like in rally, the information comes in the front windshield and exits the back of your helmet and then is gone. A continuous stream that we process at a subconscious level. Sight, sound, sensation-information that we're even amazed we can process.

Same thing with life. Yesterday is yesterday. We can process it, reflect on it, stew on it and perhaps even let it dictate our actions tomorrow. But should we? I don't think so. I've really got too much to do today to spend time in yesterday. Slows me down too much...

For me, I prefer to be as simple and practical as possible. Like I tell Scott(good friend and trainer) when he's training me-"Tell me what to do and I'll do it until I throw up or pass out." It's not an issue of whether I can or can't do something, it's, "how much can I take?" I have no idea, but I know the human psyche is a powerful thing and we have more in reserve than we give ourselves credit for.

An anecdote I like to share(don't worry, I have plenty). Dave and I were competing in the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary Canada and we were transiting back to service. The scale of the geography is much different than here in the East, and we could see the service area across the valley, but never seemed to get any closer. Oops, that was a digression. Anyway, there was a bad noise from under the car. Transits let you focus on these things because there's not much else to do and, like in health, your mind wanders to worse case scenarios. Dave was pretty sure the transmission had gone wonky and wanted to pull over so he, "could check it out."

Trying to not to dampen his enthusiasm for auto repair in the middle of nowhere(or laugh out loud and hurt his feelings), I kindly asked him what he might do if he sussed there was something wrong in the nether regions of T-4 drivetrain. There was an awkward pause....and then he replied, "F-it, just drive it until it breaks!" We both smiled at each other and felt much less concerned about life in general. :-)

So, (long way around the barn, I know), how does this all relate to health and aging?

Personally, I tend to be very proactive about my health, for a variety of reasons. Some advice-when a medical symptom arises, get it checked out. Thoroughly. Especially if you're, "getting on," a bit. ;-) Since I've gotten the medical green light, it's back to pushing myself, which honestly is a bit difficult, as I'm still not completely convinced I'm fine. The mind is an odd thing and I think it'll take some time before I let that go. Live in today, JoMo!

Maybe I'd love to have an excuse to slow down? Always a possibility. My nature is to be pretty lazy, truth-be-told. Right now, I'm thankful this Christmas to be one of the, "worried well," and still be able to strap into a fire breathing mistress named T-4 and drive her as fast as Dave and I can make her go! I plan to continue pushing my body until someone(or something) tells me I shouldn't/can't. :-)

Merry Christmas everyone-thanks for coming along for the ride! Here's to a healthy and fit 2011! Cheers! John

P.S. The great thing about rally is that when we're racing, the car's bouncing so much it's like I don't have a tremor! ;-)


Alright, so I haven't been officially diagnosed, but sometimes the shoe does fit-hard to believe, I know. ;-)

In order to accomplish what we do as a team, we all have to be quite driven, innovative, unrealistically optimistic and perhaps, well, a bit nutty!

Petter Solberg's charge to second at the past weekend's Rally GB and third overall in the 2010 WRC is testament to what us rallyists are made of. He revealed today that he's seen his family very little in the last year-and-a-half and paid for the last couple rallies out of his own pocket. Talk about driven!

This is the time of year that we try and make amends to our family for tilting at rally windmills in the Eastern forests of the US and Canada.

Truth be told, it's a painful realization that we can never get that time back. Missed sports games, family dinners, opportunities to socialize. We could be in the service rig headed to Missouri or across the border to Canada.

As crazy as it all is, it becomes normalized over time. When the default for Fourth of July is being at Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, and Thanksgiving is Rally of the Tall Pines, you know you've been bit by the bug....hard.

So, what have we been doing lately!? Here at Triple Caution Farm, T-4 has not been off the trailer since Rallye Defi in September. She'll have to come off soon if we're to get her sorted for Rallye Perce Neige.

In the mean time, Bronson and I cleaned the shop and Sharon and I painted the floor. A thorough cleaning(still not done) and reorganization was undertaken. We completed(nearly) the home gym to help keep the family fit and me driving for a few more years. We got a large ash tree sawn up and to the kiln to make some cool electric guitars. My wife drove my Forester into the garage door(both ok, the wife moreso) after starting it in gear trying to warm it for me on a cold morning.

We cut, split and stacked some firewood. We've been doing interior household projects(never done) in preparation for Holiday guests. I've been sorting through stacks of magazines and mail that have piled up while I was off doing other things. I got a new road bicycle and actually got out on it this past weekend. We've all been going to the gym. Oh yeah, I've been working full time as well providing health care in two homeless healthcare clinics in the Bangor area.

And this is just my family. Bronson continues to work on Mass-spect machines, Dave is always pushing at his job at Maine Boats, Harbors and Home Magazine. Duncan and Mike juggle work, family and life. Drew and his wife just bought a house. DrewG juggles all the calls from friends to fix stuff and Nate spends time on projects either at home or at work at Old Town Canoe.

There is no stopping the change of season in Maine. The dreaded lack of sun, the change in the clocks and the impending cold weather. Not to mention barreling full speed into the Holidays. There is an unrelenting urgency to get the yard cleaned up, the snowblower on the tractor, the driveway markers set out, wood stacked and drafty windows sealed up.

What keeps us from going insane?! Family and friends. Simple and true. I'm convinced our Holiday season was laid out by someone who lived in a climate like ours and needed an excuse for a party/gathering every month to lift the spirits. ;-)

Working in the shop, wind whistling outside with a punch list and cocoa available just across the driveway, iPod shuffling through thousands of tunes is one of the best coping mechanisms we have.

In a recent phone conversation with Dave, we discussed whether or not we wanted to head to Perce Neige(or course we do, but it's never that easy). He said, "We'll need some mid-winter therapy by then."

The dopamine rush that we get careening down roads flanked by 4 foot snowbanks might just last us until spring thaw.....

Missing our LDR crew

posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Some of you know that myself(aka JoMo) and Dave(aka Nigel Prodrive) are at Rallye Defi in Quebec this weekend.

What some of you don't know is that we're here alone. Sure, there are plenty of other competitors and friends here, but we're crew-less. Now, a lot of teams don't have any crew, but LDR has a strong(and consistant crew).

Nothing has happened to our crew-most are quite fine. Problem is, none of them have passports. Lest you think it's because there are legal issues preventing them from attaining such documentation, I assure there aren't(at least none they've shared with me).

We haven't raced in Canada in two years and none of our crew was with us then(except for Duncan). We love racing in Canada, but have focused on the Rally America Eastern Regional Championship. We've missed Canadian Rally and wanted to come back. Rallye Defi seemed like the best event to come back to.

But what about the team!? After an extremely long day of recce(all recce days are long-don't mind my whining), Dave and I reflected on what it's like to be here without our crew.

Like any meaningful relationship, we miss them when they're not here. We miss the things they do for us and miss the comradery. We miss the way that we all seem to revert to early adolescence when we're on the road and on event together.

What we didn't realize is how meaningful that relationship is to us and our rally experience. We race for our team. They help engineer and build the car. They devote untold hours of their spare time to the team(at the expense of income and perhaps relationships). They want us to go big, or not go at all.

Most of all, they're our best friends. The time we spend in the barn/shop is perhaps more important that any of us realizes. It's our place/time to be creative, problem solve and provide amateur psychotherapy to each other(scary, I know!). It's our clubhouse. The team is essentially our gang. Sounds like we should write a sociology paper or something, doesnt it!? ;-)

Bottom line, Nigel and JoMo are piloting a fire breathing dragon this weekend sans LDR crew support. We'll have some folks on site volunteer some help, no doubt, but it won't be the same. We have to depend on each other and do all the things that the crew does for us. If the crew could've seen us today looking for stuff in the service truck, they would've told us to get out of, "their," truck and do what we do best-race a rally car.

Bottom line, we're not racing for ourselves this weekend, we're racing for our crew: Bronson, Duncan, DrewG, DrewS, Zach and NathanH. You guys are desperately missed and we'll do our best to make your armchair rally experience exciting this weekend!

Now, get those damn passport applications mailed in, will you!? We've got some more rallying to do yet! :-)

2010-Bring It!

posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Just finished a double shot mocha I made here while I'm watching the snow fall. Storm waning locally that extends over a three day period-hard to remember the last time that happened! Regardless, it's a great way to start the New Year-with a little adversity.

Speaking of adversity. I just finished one of my many e-mails to our team mailing list. A likely somewhat groggy team is faced with the following to-do list(s) as we prep for the 100 Acre Wood Rally. I don't normally share this info outside the team, but there are no state secrets here, just lots of work, and I think it's cool for folks to get a peek into our world to see what it takes to field a team for ONE event!

To-Do Lists

Winter tires-I'm in the process of trying to get some pricing. Crazy expensive to get 15" tires in the load range we need them in©. Got stuck int he driveway the other day, so they're a necessity.

Plug in jumper cable system. Ordered parts today and will buy 2-0 cable locally to put it together(see T-4 list)

Trouble shoot brakes/trailer wiring

Finish aluminum shelving in rear

Clean/organize/label boxes/bins/pack

Consider power inverter install for AC devices.


Remove non-relevant decals

Relocate battery and electrical disconnect system to rear seat area. Associated is lots of other auxiliary wiring as a result.

Install hardwired plug with leads to battery for jump starting. Current battery terminals are too small to fit regular cables. A plug/cable system would solve this problem

RS+SP are getting rebuilt

Install solid front strut top-mounts

Change brake fluid/bleed brakes

Select and mount tires


Check driving light functions-photo from NEFR showed one light out

BDA-clean and paint undercarriage

Rebuild turbo or source new

Troubleshoot turbo drain leak(hose cracked? pressurized crankcase?) Leakdown test. Engine currently out and on stand

Change fuel filter

Oil filter and oil change.

Weld 1/4" bolts to bottom of fans so that they can be removed quickly


Order barrel of race fuel

BDA on trailer-make sure all hubs are tight and spinning freely.

Check trailer brakes

Truck inspection. Make sure all registrations and inspections(Truck, trailer, car) are current

Confirm generator function and consider oil change

Range Rover

Head gaskets.

Man, I'm tired just reading it. The list seems deceptively small(to me at least), but one item, like the shelving in the Sprinter(which involves procuring, cutting and welding aluminum angle) or the electrical work in the rally car, could take multiple days.

Other items can be purchased and the value of time versus cost always see-saws prior to event. As the event draws near, time is more precious than cash(usually).

In addition to all the work we need to do here, there's the 6 days on the road to be mapped, with hotel reservations needed in each city.

None of this makes me cranky-far from it! It's all part of my psychological run-up to an event. Checking things off a to-do list is always therapeutic, but the time spent with the rally car and service truck only boosts our confidence as the event looms.

Finding loose bits, replacing zip ties, putting fresh fluids in the rigs is similar to the scene in Rambo(the first), where he's putting 80 pounds of weapons and ammo on his belt, chest etc. Our montage is a bit slower and we're not nearly that buff. ;-)

Our additional challenge here in Maine is the weather. We have heat in the shop, but it struggles to stay at 50 degrees. Add to that a post-Holidays mental slump mixed with some seasonal affective disorder and we have a lot to overcome. The list helps, as does the incredible LDR volunteer crew. We're a motley crew of talented guys that simply likes to do it cheaper and better than the next guy-it's the Maine way.

I always get asked about our sponsors. For the record, our sponsors are US! :-) We have no external financial support(not that we wouldn't welcome a few mutually beneficial partnerships). There are always rumors that teams like ours have 6 figure budgets. Hang on.....ok, I'm done laughing! ;-)

Seriously, we have a term for the financial impact of our racing-"deficit spending." There is no substantial purse money and it's very hard to find and cultivate partnerships with dynamic businesses who can leverage what we do for their benefit. That's the nature of what we do, and it doesn't keep us awake at night(much). Our goal is simply to field the most consistent and professional team that we can with the resources we have. Sounds familiar to all our rally friends, I'm sure.

So wish us luck over the next several weeks. Lots of craziness and late nights in the shop working on a myriad of projects in order to take the fight to Missouri and put in the best performance of our rally career!

And that adversity I referred to at the outset of this espresso fueled rant? Without it, we have no measure of our potential, no means to set goals and no incentive to strive or overcome. Let's all find some adversity this year and kick it's ass! :-)

Happy New Years everyone! John

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As I get a bit on in my years, I'm finding that the seasonal change to fall is really not my thing. I love the colors, the cool biting air and the sense of urgency at, "getting ready," for winter. What I don't like is the lack of daylight.

Here at Triple Caution Farm, we're already near the Eastern edge of the EST zone. What does this mean? It means it's dark....a lot. Nights are pitch black and if you haven't gotten outside work done by 16:30, you're likely not going to be able to see well enough without auxilliary lighting to get it done.

Worst part is, once I get through my initial desire to crawl into bed at 19:30(my brain and light sensing organ is telling me it's more like 22:30), then I get a second wind and am up until midnight! Dammit.

Yup, I'm pretty whiny in the fall. Good thing there are lots of things going on to keep me moving. Just about to suit up in some chill inviting cycling lycra garments for a trip to the gym. Actually looking forward to it.

Movember is literally just a couple of days away. For those that haven't joined out team, please go to and search for "Last Ditch Racing." Join up and get growing to help change the face of Men's health!

Exciting new development in terms of podcasting. The great guys over at asked me to guest on their podcast a couple of times. Somehow I got Shaun and Mike way off track last night and we ended up talking about pulled pork sandwiches and beverages. Seemed more like a foodie show than a motorsports podcast, but was fun nonetheless. Check out their site for all the latest motorsports news, forums and some great op/ed stuff.

I'm hoping that they'll have me back on and I can start to share more information about ALL the rally news from the US and Canada. That means that my rally friends need to get in touch with me and keep me up to date with what they're doing and what the gossip is! Shoot me an e-mail people! :-)

On the fitness front, things have slowed a bit and been frustrating. A recent surgical procedure kept me down for about a week-and-a-half and then I somehow tagged my elbow in the dojo the other night. Hasn't fallen off yet, so I think it's ok. Excited to get back into the Les Mills RPM class at the gym. I'm a techno music fan(team members call the shop Club JoMo when I have control of the iPod), and dig the classes. The challenge will be to maintain the fitness throughout the cold months.

Took our boys to the local flu shot clinic yesterday for both the H1N1 and routine seasonal flu vaccines. There's a lot of misinformation out there folks. Please visit some reputable sites for information on the vaccines and the flu strains and make an informed decision for your children. I'm not going to preach one way or the other(and please no flaming).

What's going on with the rally car you ask!? Nothing. :-) She's sitting in the drive waiting in the queue to get into the shop once John's Forester is ready to roll, which I'm hoping is sometime next week. We'll start some system upgrades, primarily electrical, as well further diagnose our power issue with the motor.

Don't worry, I'll keep you posted! Be well and keep moving foward! :-)


posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Hey everyone! JoMo here, challenging all of you out there in Cyberspace(which is real space wherever you actually are! ;-)) to join the LDR crew in supporting the efforts of Movember.

WTH is Movember you ask?! Glad you asked. Movember is a fundraising event that renames the month of November with a nod towards the word used down under to describe a mustache, or Mo. :-)

Here's the skinny. You start the beginning of Movember with a clean face. Grow a mustache and raise money to benefit research for men's cancers while you're getting all sexy!

Not only is this a very fun way to raise money for a great cause, the LDR crew is inviting ALL OF YOU to join the Last Ditch Racing team on to start farming some Mo's! :-)

So, head on over there and sign on up and join our crew. We're going to have a blast. Best part is, you don't have to be athletic to do this fundraiser. You're even growing your Mo while you sleep! :-)

Cheers! John