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RALLY VETERAN O?NEIL ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

TOPEKA,Kan.(Oct. 21, 2003) ?Tim O?Neil, 44, driver of the Air Force Reserve sponsored 2002 Ford SVT Focus in theSCCAProRally Championship, announced his retirement from competition today.

Citing a desire to spend more time with his family and his Team O?Neil Rally School business, O?Neil said that the time was right for him to walk away from full Championship competition.

?I wanted to have the chance to drive the best car I could get, with the best team, with the right sponsors and I got that,? said O?Neil.  ?Now that I?ve got that, I feel I?ve met my objectives as a driver and it?s time to become more involved behind the scenes of the sport.?

The five-timeUnited Statesand North American Rally Champion also said that his retirement and move into an advisory role with the Air Force Reserve Rally Team will pave the way for the program to maximize the potential for the Open Class Focus. 

?I wasn?t happy with my stage times this year,? said O?Neil, who finished as part of the top independent team by posting five top-five finishes out of nine events this year, including a season-best second-place finish at the Susquehannock Trail ProRally in June.  ?And in my opinion, in order for the program to work out for the long term, it needs someone who can get more out of the car; someone who is willing to go faster right now, and not another season of making the Air Force Reserve waiting for me to get up to speed.?

In his advisor?s role, O?Neil said that he would not be at all events in 2004, but that he would be at several, working with the Air Force Reserve in helping its recruiting efforts.   He also hopes to encourage sponsorship for competitors and promote the overall long-term health of the sport. 

?I do want to thank Major Greg Pachman and all the people in the Air Force Reserve for believing in what we are doing and for being a rally advocate,? O?Neil said.  ?I also want to say thank you to Andy Brown for teaching me about car setup and the rest of the crew who do nothing else than work their tails off to get the car ready just so I can go drive it. 

?I also want to say thanks to Alex [Gelsomino] for being a top man and a very good co-driver this year.  Also, the guys that I competed against, those guys were great.  My learning curve was steep this year because I spent time talking with and driving against guys like David Higgins which was amazing.  The things that I learned this year from him and the others not only made me faster, but will make me a better teacher on the modern rally car setup. 

?I?d like to thank theSCCAfor its contributions to the overall growth of the sport and for providing the Championship where top competition can come together and rally.   

O?Neil alluded to the possibility that he might compete in a few rallies in the future, but was clear that his second retirement from the ProRally Championship (his first coming in 1992) would be his final one. 

?As far as for future rides, I?m not looking for anything in the Championship, maybe a couple of events here or there,? said O?Neil. ?But as far as the team goes, if we can find someone who is already really good and someone who will work with the team, then we give our team the best chance to win sooner.? 

_______________

Curtis Kitchen

Public Relations Manager

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Inc.

[email protected]

800-770-2055

 
 

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Wow. Tim is a hell of a driver, a hell of a teacher and a hell of a man. The annoucement took my breath away, but after talking with him I feel better. He's been my hero since I found out what rally was. Congratualtions on what can only be described as an amazing return to rally and I look forward to his impact on the future of American rally.

Nick Collins
#972 VW GTI
www.TEAMONEIL.com
www.camelbak.com
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Good luck Timo.

My first exposure to Tim was when he and Martin Headland were running a Golf in Production. They managed to beat Guy Light and me (also in a P Golf) at Chattahoochee Forest in 1989, for 1st and 2nd OVERALL. He was one heck of a driver (and good guy) back then, and he still is. Of course he then beat us for the P championship that year.

press on,
 

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Sorry to see you go, Timo!

Waiting at the ATC is always a fun time when you're checking in around the same time as Tim. Really one of those people who you can't be in the same room as without having a laugh.

Thanks for the excitement you've provided, and look forward to seeing you continue to help the sport grow in your new capacities.

And one of the best co-drivers in America just became available? Looking forward to seeing you in another top car, Alex! Or maybe the same car, different driver?

- Christian

Bjorn Christian Edstrom
www.christianedstrom.com
 

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My first real participation in rally was last year at OFPR, working with Tim and the Air Force Reserve team as a crewmember. I learned more than I ever could have imagined that weekend.

Tim is a hell of a driver and a hell of a good guy to know. I'm sad to see him retire from full-time driving, but glad to have been associated with him this second time around.

-Mark Holden
 

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Well Tim got the Rally America Above and Beyond award at LSPR as I heard...people called to tell us that he got awarded... and was very surprise at getting it. It was due to helping me off the mountain when I got stuck in a very light truck in the Rim of the World in the torrential Friday night rain. He also moved all of the national guys out of the way for my husband who was in the back of the rescue truck so they can get by and then helped me out of the bind. He got me turned around and another person who was in another truck that was following me to go the other way and he stayed with us until sweep came to get us off the mountain so I can get to the hospital....kudos for Tim a class act and will be remembered in our household for what he did for the sport and for the McMahon family.


Denise McMahon
Rim Of The World Rally
 

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don't cut
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Damn, how am I supposed to bum free driving advice? I guess I'll just have to buck up and go out to New Hampshire again.

Oh yeah, my favorite Tim O'neil moment: At SnoDrift this year, at the awards banquet, Tim is crying in his beer after crashing his brand new car when I decide to bug him about some driving tips. "Tim, I'm having trouble rotating the car on the real tight hairpins." He spends the next ten minutes going through his usual left foot braking spiel, pendulum turn theory, etc... and then drops the bomb. He looks over both shoulders to make sure no one is listening (I'm serious!), hesitates, and then whispers in his tawny New England accent, "Dennis, sometimes you gotta use the handbrake." I think it almost killed him to say it. :)

Good driver, a great teacher, and wonderful human being. Keep "spankin'" em Tim!

Dennis Martin
[email protected]
920-432-4845
 

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I second the call Ross idea, exactly who I thought of.

I guess R. Millen and P. Choiniere may be avaible and we know they can do the job but I think Ross may be ready for it. Now if he had just joined up at some point...
 

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My favorite Tim moment:

Mom and I worked the practice stages for OT this year. We were down where the cars were supposed to turn around for the return run. I guess Alex missed the final call for "STOP!" because they came blasting down around the corner at Mach 1.

Mom and I turned around and booked it up the road and into the woods; we were hoping he'd stop before he got to Mom's car parked at the top of the road where it runs into hwy 26. We turn around when the engine noises stop, and all we see is a huge cloud of dust. We were sure there was a car in there somewhere, we just couldn't see it. Eventually the dust cleared enough for us to guide him in turning around, and as we sent him back up to the top we radioed up and asked Gloria, our volunteer coordinator and the boss up top that day to ask Tim to not run over any more workers this weekend.

He got a kick out of that! We saw him in Parc Expose on Saturday, and were joking around about him running over workers, laughing and having a good time. :)

He and Alex are both great guys! :)

KT
 

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Here's hoping for a short retirement...
Tim has always been one to think of when the word "ACE" is being used.
He has always been a top-shelf competitor, teacher, and friend.
Tim's demeanor for the events will be greatly missed.
 

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I don't know what to say. As a huge fan, a student, a friend, and even an former employee, I owe alot to Tim. I spent my whole summer being his slave, or "food for the bears" as he called it. Tim has brought many things to this sport. He has taught many people not only left foot braking and the Sandinavian Flick, but has also shared with people his love of rallying. I have seen Tim take turns faster and more sideways than anyone. Take jumps higher and farther than anyone. And kill cars faster, harder, better than anyone. He is a crazy, crazy man. It is sad to see Tim stand down, but he will still be there to teach rally wanabes how to drive, and amaze us all at his school. I'm glad to hear Tim will be at rallies as an advisor so we can all still get driving tips and crazy stories from the master.
Thanks again Tim,
Tyler Dill

P.S. Every go to the Team O'Neil Rally School, it is worth it!
 

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Timo:

Thank you for being who you are, a class act of a gentleman, and a great rally driver to boot.

I will never forget STPR 2001, or the Ramada Express last year for that matter, you made those events special.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do, I know you will be succesful. Say hi to Hollie and the kids.

Tony Chavez
 

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Who's gonna get the ride?

Why not Andrew Havas? Or my favorite driver, and IMO the most talented, underrated driver in the US, Randy Bailey? I think the US Air Force probably wants a US driver, isnt that why they built a Ford instead of a Mitsubaru?
 
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