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VIDEO: Dances with Handbrakes

THSTalk Radio host Bill Wood gives us some insight on the importance of using handbrakes in rally to negotiate tight turns on a stage and talks to some of Rally America's top competitors about how the actual placement this assembly is a very personal to drivers. Video after the yump.

Learn more about Bill Wood and his weekly online radio show, THS Talk, which always features great guests from the global rally community, by following him on Twitter here:

Pirating WRC Corona Rally Mexico Rally America

There are Rally events, and there are life events. WRC Corona Rally Mexico Rally America was both.

Bill Caswell and I received word in January that a Rally America legal car would be eligible to compete in Rally America, a Mexican national rally run concurrently with WRC Corona Rally Mexico.
Some teams would dream about competing; Bill and I said screw it, we’re going.

I was with a new driver in a new car. This time adding a new event at a completely new competitive level with a major language barrier added other major challenges to my job. Roberto Mendoza, the president of the event, was more than helpful in answering questions and getting us prepared for the event.

I spent weeks emailing Roberto and Bill, translating sup regs into English and building movement plans for the week. To add extra stress to the situation I had to drop all work on Mexico a week before the event due to competing with Team 600 and Dillon Van Way at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.

Plans were set; I had to let everything fall into place.

Sunday, February 28-

The plan was to leave Rolla, MO, only 30 minutes north of the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, by 7:00 a.m. in order to hit the border in Laredo, TX by Monday morning in a bid to complete Recce. Bill was running into motor problems due to an S14 M3 swap, preventing him from leaving Chicago. I spent the entire day loafing around Ron Erickson’s house in Rolla.

Monday, March 1-

Again, I loafed around all day. I surfed the net, watched some TV and napped all day with a cat in my lap.

Tuesday, March 2-

Bill was finally able to reach Rolla at one a.m. We immediately hit the road. We took shifts driving and made Laredo by 5 p.m. We heard nightmare stories about crossing the border from teams that went south for Rally of the Nations in ’09. Surprisingly things didn’t seem so bad.

We went through the border; the Mexican customs agents asked us to open the trailer. I know rudimentary Spanish, but nowhere near enough to communicate what we were doing. Luckily I had the logo for WRC Mexico on the front page of my movement plan; when the Mexican border agent saw it he knew what we were doing and just let us pass through.

We made it a few miles into Mexico when we were informed that we couldn’t proceed any further with our current service vehicle (this is a long story that I won’t be able to go into for a few years due to various “issues.” Buying me a beer at a Rally could easily draw it out though…). We were turned around at 9 p.m. and sent back to the U.S. This is where things got scary.

Between bridge one and bridge two between Nuevo Laredo (Mexico) and Laredo (USA) there is a one mile road, two lanes wide with a concrete barrier about two feet tall preventing you from going in any other direction. This is the point where some Mexican cartels decided to begin a war. A car blocked the road in front of us and people started streaming down into the bushes with machine guns.

We couldn’t turn around due to our trailer, so we spent a frantic ten minutes backing up a half mile to the sounds of automatic gun fire and police who just turned around and fled when presented with the situation.

Our brokers, who were there to protect us and guide us through the procedures, had one simple explanation, “Mexico, she has problems.”

We finally crossed back into the U.S. while the Mexican military guarded the bridges. We took shelter in the Days Inn Laredo where I spent a day last year after transporting other team’s vehicles south.

Wednesday, March 3-

We woke up, transferred our gear to another service vehicle (again, I can’t say the full story yet) and attempted the border again. We were able to safely cross at 4 p.m. after an hour of paper work and proceeded to the inner border. As long as it’s light out Nuevo Laredo is a pleasant town, once it’s dark it’s scary as hell.

We drove through the night south towards Leon.

Thursday, March 4-

We arrived at our hotel at 5 a.m. and were asleep within a half hour.

We woke around 8 and took the service rig across the street to the Poliforum service park. They guided us through the building and down a ramp into our service area. The truck, once down the ramp, lifted the back of the trailer and scrapped the entry way into the Poliforum. Luckily I was driving and luckily all eyes were on us. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to the Rally world.

We unpacked, Bill set to work on final details for the car, and I got deep into the paperwork for the weekend.

Both Bill and I were nervous that we wouldn’t pass tech. There wasn’t anything wrong with the car; it’s just that being faced with a WRC level tech inspection with a 20 year old car is a bit intimidating. All of the tech inspectors were more than friendly and soon our fears were assuaged. We were cleared to start.

Around 4 p.m. we left the service park for the beginnings of the ceremonial start. No description I can give will be adequate enough to explain how the night went. The transit to Siloa was simple enough, but when we arrived at the holding area we were greeted by tens of thousands of screaming fans.

Bill and I were heroes. We were in an attainable car on the world stage and everyone loved us. As soon as all of the cars were parked the fans streamed past the barriers for autographs and photos. Someone was setting fireworks off on the roof tops, girls kept asking for photos and kisses on the cheeks and everyone, including local police, wanted autographs. Bill and I were happy to oblige.

We were released at one minute intervals from Siloa, starting off of a ceremonial ramp, into the streets. For the next 30km we transited down city streets and freeways lined with people. Police blocked every entrance and two officers, lights and sirens blaring, followed us to Guanajuato. We were free to drive as fast as we wanted, through toll booths with no charge, feeling like banditos fleeing from the police.

When we arrived in Guanajuato we were thrust into a scene that made Silao look tame. The crowds built to over one hindered thousand screaming Rally fans. It was stop and go traffic for three miles while people parted for us to inch forward, then swallow us from behind after we passed. Several girls blew kisses which I grabbed with a wink and smile only to watch them swoon. It was an odd feeling.

The official start ramp, after three other false ramps, was a spinning platform surrounded by banners, grandstands and spot lights. The crowd went nuts when we pulled up. After driving down we immediately transited back to Leon, wondering the whole way if we were dreaming about the previous four hours of our lives.

Friday, March 5-

The day started oddly like any Rally day despite the previous night’s festivities. We set to work in the service park. Bill on the car, myself on route books.

Since we missed recce we were going to be forced to do the whole weekend on very thin tulips. Luckily for us we met Nicolas Fuchs, a PWRC competitor and current Peruvian national champion. His co-driver, Juan Pedro Cilloniz, allowed me to photo copy his pace notes.

They were in Spanish and in a method neither Bill nor I had used before, but they were something. I wrote at the beginning of every stage that I=Left and D=Right and was forced to call that good. Other symbols I had to learn at speed were “L”= crest, “l”= long, “sc”=tightens, “sa”=opens and “boda”=off camber just to name a few. Our in car video can attest that I wasn’t perfect at translating Spanish to English at speed, but I was at least 95% accurate.

The first stage loop went alright. We bashed the rear left corner enough to rip the strut mount from the car, but not damage the shock. Bill took out the Bilstein to prevent it from banging around and we ran the last loop without any left rear suspension. Surprisingly we were sitting in third, but we were soon faced with a DNF due to a fuel pump failure on the transit to stage 7.

The next story involves high speeds, GPS tracking, a Policía Federal road block and chase and other bits of James Bond level international intrigue. Like the previous story about our service vehicle, I can’t get into this one for a few years unless coerced by a cold brew.

After some “issues” we returned to the service park and set to repairing the car under Super Rally regulations. I received some bad news from home and spent the night on the phone to Michigan leaving Bill to work on the car. He was able to wrap up all of our issues to allow us to start on Saturday.

Saturday, March 6-

We started the day third on the road. With our Super Rally penalties we were sitting in last, but that didn’t stick. We attacked the stages in anger, quickly climbing back up the order to fourth.

On stage one we entered a tight yet fast downhill section with a little too much gusto. The back of the car slid off the road on the right and went off a bridge. My first reaction was, “well, we’re done.” Bill just kept on the gas and a well placed BMW trailing link caught the edge of the concrete bridge before the tire and somehow bounced us back on the road. According to the laws of physics it shouldn’t have been possible, yet we found ourselves on still on the road and still pushing hard. I love those moments.

On stage three we approached what my notes said was a dip. It wasn’t a dip. I said it wasn’t a dip when we could clearly see what it was. Bill gunned it. It was a massive jump. Massive. We landed hard and broke the right motor mount, but instead of slowing down Bill just kept pushing. We entered the final Superspecials sitting back in third.

Of note was a young lady, maybe 20 or so, at the beginning of the Superspecial in the VIP area. She held a sign that said “I love Slocum.” I’ve gone international. I called her over but the security guards wouldn’t let her pass. I scolded them out and they let her approach the car. I asked for her hand and gave it a kiss, feeling like an American lothario. She giggled and the security guard forced her back as we moved up to the start line. It was reported to me later that she spent the remainder of the Superspecial bragging to the crowd around her that I kissed her. I am an American lothario.

Once back to the service park Bill again set to working on the car. He was able to fabricate a new motor mount using a piece of tubing and angle iron. Unfortunately we went over our allotted service time and pulled 4:20 in penalties, moving us to fourth, but we were still in it.

Sunday, March 7-

We were solidly in fourth to start the day. There were only four stages so we decided to play it smart and drive for the finish. We had no issues, the car was even better than when we started on Friday. I was comfortable with the notes; Bill was comfortable with the car and the stages.

After 22 stages, several severe mechanical issues, border delays and dozens of other reasons why it shouldn’t have happened we finished WRC Corona Rally Mexico Rally America. The final verdict came down that another car had been disqualified resulting in us moving up to third. The event that should never have occurred ended better than either of us could have anticipated.

The ceremonial finish was just as insane as the other spectator events. Thousands of people, thousands of photos and autographs, kisses all around. I burned out two sharpies over the weekend on autographs alone. The only thing left was to party.

Bill got trashed inside with other drivers, doing shots with Petter and Henning Solberg; I hung around with other co-drivers outside drinking water and talking about how hard it is to get drivers to listen. Event workers hung out in between both groups trying to look natural. I went back to the hotel around 2, Bill stumbled in with a passed out Scandinavian crew guy over his shoulder around 5:30.

Nothing can do justice in describing what it’s like to compete at a WRC event. If the opportunity is offered in the future I highly suggest going. I know I will.

Michèle Mouton Heads New Women & Motor Sport Commission

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has established the new Women & Motor Sport Commission (WMC), and designated former World Rally driver Michèle Mouton as Commission President. The World Council has also agreed to the 19 members of the newly formed WMC, which aims to facilitate the full participation of women in all aspects of motor sport and set in place strategies and policies that will promote the education and training of women in motor sport.

I'm very glad to see the World Council take a progressive stride to actively encourage women to become more involved with rally. There are already many talented women participating in the sport, not only at the competitive level, but as organizers, volunteers, and journalists (and even spectators!). Having structured programs in place to not only recognize these women's efforts, but provide opportunities to increase their presence in rally and lower barriers to entry will serve as a valuable asset in the growth of our sport.

2011 World Rally Championship Calendar Postponed

The FIA World Motor Sport Council convened Thursday March 11, 2010 and has postponed the finalization of the 2011 WRC Calendar.

The World Council has mandated the FIA President, the President of the World Rally Commission and the Championship promoter (North One Limited) to further consider the World Rally Championship Calendar with a final version to be decided no later than April 16, 2010.

New S2000 Homologation Regulations Passed

The World Council has adopted new homologation regulations permitting the use of a 1.6 litre turbo engine with direct injection (based on the existing Super 2000 regulations). This engine may either be derived from the Manufacturer’s base engine, or be homologated in accordance with the strictly defined technical regulations.

To improve competitor safety, Priority 1 and Priority 2 driver teams contesting all events of the Championship will be permitted to use Safety Cars. This will apply only to tarmac events in the Championship.

Regional Championships Adopt New Points System

The European, African, Asian Pacific FIA Regional Rally Championships, and the European Rally Cups have amended their points scale to harmonise with recent changes to the points system in the World Rally Championship.

Points will be awarded as follows:

1st - 25 points
2nd - 18 points
3rd - 15 points
4th - 12 points
5th - 10 points
6th - 8 points
7th - 6 points
8th - 4 points
9th - 2 points
10th - 1 point

Ralliart Winds Down its Business Operations

Ralliart Inc. has announced that it will cease its global motorsports business operations as of April 2010.

The company has stated that its business activities have radically deteriorated as a result the economic downturn that began in 2008 and that it can no longer continue to operate under these conditions.

Ralliart is in the process of winding down its sales and support services before officially closing its doors to the public. Customers still have until March 22nd 2010 to place orders on competition parts, sport parts, collection items etc.

Ralliart's scale down includes the following items:

1. Support to motorsport customers (Support to the participation, Technical Support, and Awarding of Mitsubishi/Ralliart Driver of the Year)
2. New Planning, Development and Merchandize of Ralliart products (Except FIA VO parts)*
3. Information of new products and dispatching motorsport information (on the web)**

*FIA VO parts development and application work shall be done by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation as it is.
**FIA Group-N information shall be available on the official Mitsubishi Motors Corporation website.

Ralliart was established in 1984 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation to serve the company's growing motorsports programs. From the time it was created by MMC, Ralliart grew to 23 branches worldwide before announcing its close for business March 8th 2010.

PR-Last Ditch Racing Takes Podium at 100 Acre Wood Regional Rally!

Photo Copyright 2010 Doug Patterson/

For Immediate Release

March 3, 2010

Bangor, Maine USA

Maine's Last Ditch Racing had a mixed weekend at the recent 100 Acre Wood Rally in Salem, Missouri, ultimately claiming third overall of sixteen regional entrants and third in Open Class in Saturday's 100 Acre Wood Regional Rally.

The 100 Acre Wood Rally, round 2 of the Rally America 2010 National Championship, also comprised the Regional Rally Championship. As 2009 Eastern Region Open Class Champions, the team had come down to race again other regional champions in an attempt to take overall honors. The woods of Missouri had other plans for the team, however.

Friday's event was eventful, but not in a positive way. A slight off early on SS2 rattled Cassidy and Co-driver Adam Kneiip, and then halfway through the stage the team's exhaust manifold on their 2003 Subaru STi fractured, causing hot exhaust gases to blow onto components in the engine compartment. "In addition to not having any power due to lack of boost, we started to see smoke and smell burning rubber," said driver John Cassidy. "We were forced to make the decision to retire from Friday's event in order to save the car and ensure we'd be able to compete in Saturday's event."

Friday night saw the crew of fellow competitor Dillon Van Way weld up the team's header. As it was the second such failure in the same manifold in a couple of weeks, the team did not trust that it would hold and looked for an alternative. A local media person and Subaru enthusiast soon heard that the team was searching for a manifold and met the team at their hotel with the replacement. New part in hand, the crew replaced it in the early hours of the Saturday morning and the team were ready for Saturday's stages.

Morning came with the crew feeling fresh and confident in the car. The first stage saw Cassidy and co-driver Adam Kneiip continue to acclimate to each other's styles. At a low water bridge on the second stage, a slip joint in the exhaust system separated, creating worry in the car that they had another serious exhaust system failure. "Even with our noise canceling intercom, it was incredibly loud and I thought we had another hole on our hands. Driving a bit further on, I realized that, despite the noise, we still had full power and all systems were go."

Saturday saw the team chasing fellow Open Class crews of Henry/Cindy Krowlikowski in their ex-Prodrive Subaru and Chris Gilligan/Joe Peterson in their EVO 4. Said Cassidy, "I wish we could have pushed Henry and Chris a bit more, but we did all we could with the car we had. We'll continue to work hard to increase the performance of the car on our next outing!"

The 100 Acre Wood Rally saw Colorado co-driver Adam Kneipp sit with Cassidy for the first time. "It was obvious from the first time that we talked over the phone that Adam is meticulous and goal oriented. Adam slotted into the car and team seamlessly. We had a great weekend overall and perhaps we'll be able to get him back into the car later in the season."

The Last Ditch Racing crew were highly regarded in the service area at the event, and Cassidy/Kneipp want to thank them publicly. Drew Simpson, Zachary Sennett and Drew Gladu swarmed on the car each service and worked into the morning hours making sure that everything was perfect for Cassidy/Kneipp. "This event saw the crew really coalesce. I was amazed by the ownership and assertiveness the lads showed this weekend. Their strong work allowed Adam and I to maintain our focus on the race and developing our relationship within the car. Our helmets' are off to them!," said Cassidy.

Last Ditch Racing would also like to thank the Organizers for a fantastic event, as well as the fans/residents of Salem and Rolla, Missouri and all the towns the event travelled through. "The people of Missouri are some of the friendliest folks we've met in rallying and we felt right at home in Missouri. Maine feels a bit like Missouri, but without the awesome BBQ!"

2010 sees LDR with several new partners. LDR has partnered with VP Racing Fuels in the Northeast to run the new 109e race fuel. "We've run VP in the past, but rule changes meant we had to switch to another brand. Now that VP has come out with a newly formulated fuel, we're able to use our preferred brand. We'll soon be remapping our ECU to take advantage of the new fuel." Kartboy products, maker of short shifters, shift knobs, swaybar links and other performance oriented parts is also stepping up support this season. "We've run Kartboy decals on the car in the past, but now they're bigger! Kartboy makes products in the USA that are second-to-none in quality and performance. We'd only consider Kartboy for our mission critical suspension and driver interface parts."

Luke Dobie, of Luke Dobie Designs worked with California graphic artist Craig Woida to create a graphic design for Cassidy's Peltor helmet for 2010. "Luke has been doing custom paint at the pro level for some time. When he approached me about putting custom paint on my helmet, I jumped at the chance. Between he, Craig and I, we came with a design in short order and Luke made it happen incredibly quickly, even hand delivering the helmet to me here in Maine." is an online motorsport news clearinghouse and community. LDR has partnered with Openpaddock for 2010 to help share some insight with fans into what it takes to field a rally team. Cassidy has appeared as a guest on two Openpaddock podcasts to discuss rallying in the US as well as share his thoughts on the WRC as a rally fan and driver.

Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2010 Partners for their support:

VP Racing fuels.
Triple Caution, LLC,
Team O'Neil Rally School,
Luke Dobie Designs,,,

To view the Rally-America official highlight video, please visit,

For more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit:
Social Networking: Please search for us on Facebook and Myspace.
To follow us on Twitter, please visit:
Youtube channel:

To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit:

Tera Firma's 100AW Wrap UP.


We didn't make it, but we heard it rocked.

See the whole story with pics & vids here ->

Unfortunately for Terra Firma, and Terra Firma fans, we didn’t make it to 100 Acre Wood because of a series of unfortunate events which included separated shoulders and broken ribs.

Being the determined rally fans that we are, we weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying the event as if we were there. So we created this uber-Twitter-rally-mashup which allows the user to quickly search popular #hastags for various rally series. Be sure to check it out and make sure you’re tagging your tweets!

Using these rally feeds, we found out big news such as ACP’s engine catastrophe (Watch the video on the left), Pastrana’s broken link and flat tire at the Super Special, and Ken Block’s narrow win over Antoine. We were also able to hear from competitors, service crew, and Rally America official news right as it happened.

We’re happy to report that Dillon Van Way and Ben Slocum of Team 600 scored 2nd place in 2wd in their Ford Focus after a consistently fast weekend. They were beat by the frighteningly-fast 1990 VW of Duplessis/Woods and were trailed by Conley/Rudolph.

Other interesting things from the weekend

* Privateers William Bacon and Peter Watt in a 2006 EVO proved that Sno*Drift was no joke, making their second podium in as many rallies.
* Because of Pastrana’s mechanical DNF, the podium was Ford, Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi which was the first National Podium without a Subaru in 5 years, according to the rally gurus @WorldRallySport
* was launched and was supposedly tracking the rally somehow, and more specifically Dave Mirra. We’re not sure if it’s meant for organizers, competitors, fans, or somewhere in-between, but we like the potential.
* The weather was nice for once. Now we’re really mad we didn’t make it.
* Hanson and Hanson in their ’07 STI had a dominating performance taking 1st place in the SP class for the 2nd rally in a row.
* Most of all, I think we missed The Roadhouse, hungover SuperSonic burritos and awesome Ozark sightings.

For more pics & vids than you can shake a sway bar at, click here:

Moyle Racing exceeds expectations at 100 Acre Wood

MR 100aw

Houghton, MI, USA: The Moyle Racing team has notched its first National Open Class finish this past weekend in Salem, MO at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. The team placed 14th overall and 8th in class. “I’m happy with the results,” said driver Mason Moyle, “We came into this race hoping to just finish and to get the results we did is very satisfying.”
Co-Driver Scott Putnam said, “Toward the end of the rally, Mason was really showing his true potential and learning a lot more about the car. He made monumental improvement this weekend.”
The 100 Acre Wood Rally is the second race of the Rally-America Championship Series. Named after the storybook home of Winnie the Pooh, the rally is picturesque, and features plenty of twists and turns to test any driver’s ability. Set in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, the rally is a favorite for drivers due to its pristine surroundings and fast, tight roads.
“The roads were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” quoted Mason, “They were super fast and flowing. It was a really good rally to learn more about the car on.”
The next race comes over a month-and-a-half later in Olympia, WA on April 24th-25th. “We have a lot of cool things happening between now and then, so this month and a half off is going to be perfect.”
When asked what the team has in the works, Mason just smiles and says, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

2010 off to a slow start...

Hey everyone!

Been awhile since I last posted and figured I would update you all on what has been going on.

Since the roll over at Int'l Rally New York I have been sorting out funding for the 2010 season and building a new car. The 02' WRX was destroyed in the roll over and basically needed a complete replacement. The cage was deemed OK by the scrutineers, but the damage to the rest of the car is basically terminal when comparing the cost of repairs vs. building a new car.

Only 12 days before Winter Rally NY, first round of USRC, I secured funding for the new car. I purchased a 1993 Impreza sedan from a freind who already had the car caged and log booked, but needed everything else. New seats and belts were in order from the accident, so I purchased some new RaceTech seats and belts. These are the most comfortable racing seats I have ever sat in! The choice on belts from RaceTech as well was a result of thier booth at the PRI show in December. Full drivetrain consists of a usdm ej205, ver.4 STi trans w/4.44 Final Drive, ver.6 STi RA R180 rear diff assy. The brakes are Subaru 4/2 pot. Various upgrades in suspension arms as well.

As usual we pressed on to get the car done for the Winter Rally NY event and were cut short when it was 3am the day of the race and we were still in the shop working on the car. Quite delerious at this point we decided to call it quits and go support our other four teammates that were already at the event, Matt Gottleib/Austin Gager and Erika Detota/Jason Smith.

Our next event will be Rally New York USA, One of the only tarmac rally events in the USA. We will be running in AWD class against some of toughest tarmac competitors in the USRC.

Planned events for the 2010 season are as follows:
Rally New York USA, April 16-17
STPR, June 4-5
NEFR, July 15-17
Int'l Rally NY, Sept 10-11
Black River Stage, Sept 18-19

Rally West Virginia and Prescott rallies are a possibility as well, but we haven't committed to either just yet.

We are also eyeing up the European Rally-X events being they are so close to home and should prove to be tons of fun! Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of our car builds and such for these special events.

You also might see me wandering around at 100 AW this weekend and possibly some of the western RA events.

See you next time!


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