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Press Release

Official 2005 Sandhills Sandblast Rally Preview

Knoxville, TN (January 19, 2005)

Variable Weather Promises a Challenging Event

The 2005 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 stage rally events concentrated in the Eastern US covering major metro areas from New York to Atlanta, provides a domestic US championship drawing over 100 teams in 2004 including the top names in US rally.

With a largest 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 a "wintery mix" of rain and snow flurries during 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.

The event has a large Prototype field, made up of turbo and normally aspirated four-wheel drive vehicles with very few restrictions on preparation, and for the event consists mostly of Mitsubishi and Subaru products in the 37-car field. Leading the pack in this no-compromise super car class is Irishman Seamus Burke with co-driver Charlie Bradley in their immaculately prepared Evo VIII, the clear odds-on favorites to take the event. However, expect runs from Tom Lawless with co-driver Jason Gillespie and Liam Egan with co-driver Charlie Donnelly. Also don't count out Scott Gardner and Constantine Mantopolous in their Audi S-2.

Competing for top honors are a number of drivers in the Super Stock Field including Champions Danny O'Brien and co-driver Stephen Duffy, Matthew Johnson and co-driver Wendy Nakamoto, and Bob Wall and co-driver Robert Gray, all in various iterations of the Subaru 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 Eric Heitcamp and co-driver Andrew Jessup in their Acura, Kent Davis and co-driver Kevin Hoff in their Eclipse, Mark Bowers and co-driver Duffy Bowers in their venerable Mitsubishi Starion, and Preston Stempler with co-driver Robert Amato in their VW GTI battling for the two-wheel drive win, 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, and expect some surprises with the variable road conditions," he commented. ESRC Series Coordinator Dr. Kendall Russell of Rally Promotions, LLC, also gave the event high praise. "With 37 cars set to take the start, and a number of teams having had to skip this round, we know the ESRC will once again 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, "What's great about the Sandblast is that it is a laid-back rally where our competitors always have fun. Affordable, fun, and safe events is what this sport is about for the clubman competitor, and Sandblast is the perfect example."

The 2005 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 11102 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; Office: (865) 671-1133; E-mail: