Last Ditch Racing clinched the 2008 Rally America Eastern Regional Championship in commanding form, taking top spots in both the Overall and Open Class rankings. Driver/owner John Cassidy and Co-driver Dave Getchell pulled off the best season of their careers so far.

The team maxed out their points total by winning three Eastern Regional rallies outright — the icy Team O’Neil rally in New Hampshire, followed by the rough-and-dusty Mexico and Bethel regional events at the New England Forest Rally in Bethel, Maine.

The Team O’Neil Rally in Franconia, New Hampshire saw the LDR squad earn its first overall win. The LDR lads had some demons to exorcise at this event, especially after the 2006 O’Neil’s rally where Cassidy slid wide on a greasy crest and center-punched a birch tree at 60mph. This year, things were different, despite exceedingly icy conditions on race day. “Those were some of the slippiest roads I’ve ever ridden on, much less raced on,” says Getchell, “so I give John extra credit for not lifting into what’s now known as Cassidy’s Corner. Heh, I don’t think he even looked at his tree!”

LDR arrived at their home event, the New England Forest Rally, with plans to push harder than they had in the past. “NEFR has become the centerpiece of our calendar over the past 9 years of competition,” says Cassidy, “and it’s where friends, family and team supporters always look for us to do well and we always strive to deliver.” LDR traded stage times all weekend with PGT stars Pat Moro/Scott Crouch, BMX legend Dave Mirra/Alex Kihurani, and the late Jeff Moyle and his codriver Scott Putnam. “It was as if the stars aligned for us on this event,” says Cassidy, “those sort of perfect rally days don’t happen very often, and that made NEFR very, very special. The team and car were running at 110%. Dave and I clicked all weekend, and the team knew that my intensity level was cranked up a few notches.” In addition to wins in both Regional events, NEFR brought the team a stellar fifth overall, their best-ever result in an American national rally.

2008 also saw LDR venture to Canada, where they’ve run for many years. At Rallye Baie des Chaleurs in Quebec the team ran conservatively to preserve the car for NEFR, a scant 10 days later. “We couldn’t risk the car, but still wanted to put on a show for our Canadian fans and friends,” says Cassidy. “Rallye Baie features a famous big jump at the end of the Camp Brule stage. We really like to push over the jump for the thousands of fans that gather there, but on the first pass we limped over lip on a flat tire. The second time we launched at the top of fifth gear with foot to the floor!” That second-pass jump involved some serious air time, and the LDR car landed off-camber so hard that co-driver Getchell was nearly knocked unconscious. The consolation was that they won the Longest Jump of the Rally Award–116 feet–besting the Subaru USA crew of Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino by a full 12 inches!

As a follow-up to the Eastern title, LDR will travel to the 100 Acre Wood rally in Missouri next February to battle top regional teams from around the country at the annual Regional Rally Championship. This will be LDR’s second trip to the Regional Championships. 2007 saw them loose out on the title due to a penalty. “There definitely is unfinished business in the woods of Missouri,” says Cassidy, “we’ll load the rig up in a few months and head South to do what we can to get some closure. But this is rally, and we take nothing for granted.”

The LDR team would like to thank their families, friends and fellow competitors, without whom this season would literally not have been possible. The Eastern Championship truly belongs to the crew that kept LDR going full tilt all season: Bronson Crothers, Duncan Matlack, Ken Anctil, Drew Simpson, Michael Rademacher, Rob Sockalexis and John Cassidy V.

The team would also like to express very special thanks to photographer Mark Fleming and videographer Kevin Sennett.

And finally, Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2008 Partners for so much support:
Triple Caution, LLC, http://www.triplecaution.us
Hydra EMS, http://www.hydraems.com
Team O’Neil Rally School, http://www.teamoneil.com
Mark Fleming Photography: http://www.markfleming.pixyblog.com/

For photos, videos, team blogs and more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit: http://www.lastditchracing.com

For LDR Videos, check out out Youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/LastDitchRacing

To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit: http://www.cafepress.com/lastditchracing

Photo Copyright Mark Fleming, 2008

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