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Press Release

Official 2004 Sandhills Sandblast Stage Rally Preview

Knoxville, TN February 4, 2004


The 2004 Eastern States Rally Championship [ESRC] kicks off this weekend with its first round, the Sandhills Sandblast Rally in Cheraw, South Carolina. The ESRC, a series of seven events in the Eastern US, while covering a geographical area larger than the FIA European Championship, provides a domestic US championship drawing the top names in US rally, without the time and expense required for a national assault.

With a large number of US licensed rally drivers concentrated in the Eastern US, the Sandblast entry list reads like a whose who of the US rally world, and guarantees close competition in this weekend’s event. Adding to this excitement is a weather forecast predicting rain ending just prior to the running of Saturday’s 65 miles (105kms) of special stages, guaranteeing that the mix of sand and clay surfaces will have vehicles clawing through the former, and sliding on the latter.

In an unusual twist, two wheel drive vehicles will run before all wheel drive vehicles in the 41 car field. Given the unique sandy roads which make up the event’s stages, and the increase in powerful all wheel drive cars, the organizers felt that the two wheel drive cars deserved the opportunity to run the roads before the passage of the large all wheel drive field. Competition should be fierce, with teams using Jemba stage notes provided by Pete Lahm and P-Sport. Scoring accuracy is ensured with legendary Jean-Georges Marcotte of the Rally Scoring Service filling this vital role.

The event has a large Prototype One (P1) field, made up of turbo four wheel drive vehicles with very few restrictions on preparation, and for the event consists mostly of Mitsubishi products, with no less than 13 Evos of various generations making up this 19 car field. Leading the pack in this no-compromise supercar class is Irishman Seamus Burke with co-driver Charlie Bradley in their immaculately prepared Evo VI, the clear odds-on favorites to take the event. However, expect John Drislane and co-driver Ronan Burke to give them a run for their money in another Evo. Also watch for the Subaru Spoilers Jason Rivas and Casey Blust running in a WRX, Brian Scott with former Air Force Reserve co-driver Alex Gelsomino in an Evo IV, and Tom Lawless in an Evo IV.

The smaller developmental Prototype Two (P2) field should put at least one team in the top ten overall. Made up of normally aspirated four wheel drive vehicles, look for a run by either Anders Green with co-driver Amy Feistel in their 3.0 liter H6 powered Subaru Impreza, or Randy Zimmer with co-driver Russell Strate in their infamous Impreza 2.5 RS.

Also expected to finish high in the standings are a number of Super Stock (SS) competitors. This limited preparation class, dominated by showroom stock versions of the P1 cars, should see excellent runs by Patrick Brennan with co-driver Stephen Duffy in their Subaru WRX, Greg Healy in another Impreza, and Danny O’Brien, again in a WRX.

The Modified One (M1) field, made up of large bore and turbo two wheel drive open preparation vehicles, the Modified Two (M2) field, made up of small bore open preparation vehicles two wheel drive vehicles, and the Stock Class should provide a close battle with Kent Davis, Mark Bowers and co-driver Duffy Bowers, and Ron Vecchioni with “rally brat” Alex Kihurani taking on the right seat duties, along with a host of others, in a mix of makes.

Organizer Charles Sherrill is excited about the event. “The rally should prove to be a real battle, with some excellently matched drivers, and variable road conditions,” he commented. “Additionally, as the first round of the ESRC, it should provide us with a good idea of where the competition will be in the Championship this year.”

ESRC Series Coordinator Dr. Kendall Russell of Rally Promotions, LLC, also gave the event high praise. “With a forty plus car field, and a number of teams having had to skip this round, we know the Championship will provide some of the best competition seen on this side of the Atlantic. Sandblast is an excellent start for what promises to be an excellent year for rallying in the Eastern US.”

John K. Shirley, also of Rally Promotions followed, “as I’ve said before, the ESRC represents what the competitors want in US rallying: a meaningful, competitive championship without the cost of having to travel nationally. The roads in South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, as well as the rest of the series represent some of the best in the world, but are available to any competitor, not just the so called ‘professionals.’”


The 2004 running of the Sandhills Sandblast is sanctioned by NASA Rally Sport, organized by Charles Sherrill and Sandblast, LLC, and constitutes Round One of the ESRC, coordinated by Rally Promotions, LLC. For more information, visit,, or contact Dr. Kendall Russell of Rally Promotions, LLC at 10406 Lovell Center Dr. Knoxville, TN 37922; Office: (865) 671-1133; E-mail: