FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Harrisville, NY October 14 2008
* NASA Rally Sport sanctioned Black River Stages Rally took place in Harrisville, New York
* Night stages increase challenge for competitors
* Two wheel drive cars dominate with second and third place finishes
Joseph Burke, the young son of rally champion Seamus Burke, debuted a Subaru WRX at Black River Stages and walked away with a first place win in the event. Burke had been competing since late 2007 in a 1997 Acura Integra Type R; however, following an early retirement at Rally West Virginia, Burke was forced to move to another vehicle. With the guidance of co-driver Ole Holter, Burke's superb performance led him to podium finish that was five minutes ahead of the next competitor. The accomplishment was not with drama, however, as a ruptured brake line on Stage 8 had the pair under the wheel well zip-tying a set of vice grips to the strut.
The battle for the second and third place podium positions were fought for in two-wheel-drive cars: Greg Healey in his copper Datsun 280Z and Dan Cook in his Red Mist Racing Datsun 510. Healey has a long history with the Black River Stages Rally, but until this weekend that experience did not include a podium finish. The former organizer of the event has spent plenty of time on these roads and it paid off even with the added challenges of night stages and persistent rain. Healey finished second overall and first in class. Dan Cook had the lead for most of the event but delays on the first and last stages meant three seconds and a third place finish behind Healey.
Midday damages to his car's center differential cost Danny O'Brien a podium position at his first event in two years. O'Brien was an early favorite for the overall win, posting stage times within seconds of the leaders even after his break from the sport. It is clear that his return to the sport means a force to be reckoned with each time he hits the stages.
At the only event on the American east coast to offer night stages, Black River Stages stands as one of the last links to a time when rally events ran late into the night. This pushes drivers and navigators to the limits of their concentration and increases the odds of disaster on the racing stages.
New roads in the Town of Croghan were well received by the competitors. Feedback from Pete Lahm, a well traveled former competitor who now crisscrosses the country documenting the rallies by creating the "stage notes" used by co-drivers, was "That new stage, Texas Road, is really fantastic." Initial reports from businesses in Croghan are that there was increased business during the weekend, so it appears that the event is benefiting the area.
Event Director Amy Feistel spoke about the great reception the event had received from the local community, "Volunteers from the local community and from surrounding states helped manage the event. We are especially fortunate to have the ongoing support of the Towns of Diana, Croghan, Pitcairn and Edwards."