|Contact: Ed Jacobs|
Tel: (330) 644-7774
Fax: (330) 645-2045
|Date: March 27, 1999|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rumford, Maine - On top of the stiff competition they normally would expect to face in the Maine Forest ProRally, teams now will have an additional and highly formidable opponent in the form of Stig Blomqvist. The 1984 World Rally Champion has agreed to compete in the event in the powerful Ford Escort Cosworth formerly driven by the late Carl Merrill.
Merrill, a long-time frontrunner in the Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship, suffered cardiac arrest while competing in the Prescott Forest ProRally late last year. Other competitors, including a doctor, stopped and administered medical aid to Merrill, who then was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. He passed away there the following day.
WeeGee Smith, who was Merrill's mechanic for his final four years in the sport, purchased the Ford Escort Cosworth and the team's equipment. He is bringing the car back to top form, in its familiar livery, and — as a mark of respect to his departed friend — is preparing to enter it in two events that were very special to Merrill.
The first is the celebrated Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. The June 26-27 event would have been Merrill's 10th time in the famous hillclimb. Smith will pilot the car himself, with his brother Lance navigating in this largely ceremonial tribute to their late friend.
The second event will be the July 30-31 Maine Forest ProRally which will be based in Rumford, Maine. This time, however, the car will be entered for maximum effect.
Earlier this year, the Smiths visited England, where they met with Blomqvist and proposed to him that he drive the Ford Escort Cosworth in this event. The former World Champion agreed and the wheels quickly were set in motion for him to drive the car in what was Merrill's home event, with Lance Smith as his navigator.
Although retired from regular competition on the World Championship circuit, Blomqvist is still active in the cockpit of rally cars, and has done quite a bit of behind-the-scenes testing for Ford's extensive and very successful rally programs. He also competes in selected rallies and hillclimbs around the world from time to time.
The Maine Forest ProRally will be the sixth round of the resurgent nine-event Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship. The next event on the calendar will be round three, Rim of the World ProRally, which will take place April 30-May 1 in mountains and high desert near Palmdale, California.
Ed Jacobs, President
Wind River Group, Inc.
900 State Mill Road
Akron, Ohio 44319
(330) 644-7774 - phone
(330) 645-2045 - fax
firstname.lastname@example.org - e-mail address