Dozens of amateur and professional rally teams, including Subaru Rally Team’s Travis Pastrana and defending champion David Higgins, will bring national attention to the 41st Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® (STPR®), which returns to north central Pennsylvania June 2 and 3, 2017, in Wellsboro.
The STPR event, which is round four of the six events that form the 2017 American Rally Association Championship, is put on by a unique rally organizing committee based in both Wellsboro and Rochester, New York, and is the oldest, continuously running motorsports event in the state of Pennsylvania.
The rally, promoted by the Finger Lakes STPR® Motorsports LLC committee, is chaired by Meridith Croucher, from Newark, N.Y. (Rochester area), and she reports the committee has found that the competitors not only enjoy STPR, but that new people are coming into the sport – a sign of growth that benefits both the local community and the event sponsors.
“With thousands of people coming to Wellsboro and the Tioga County area to participate in the rally, and thousands more coming to spectate, this event brings millions of dollars into the area’s economy and supports the other events and attractions that are important to North Central Pennsylvania,” Croucher said, whose organization also put on the Waste Management Winter RallySprint this past February.
She pointed out that Waste Management and other sponsors make the event truly accessible to the public.
“Our event sponsor, Waste Management, hosts our Friday competitive stages on their company property, and realizes the goodwill in the community that being associated with this kind of an event brings to their company reputation,” Croucher said. “Combined with Citizens & Northern Bank, an original sponsor of STPR when the event began in 1977, and Subaru of America, we have a good selection of regional and national support.”
She also noted, that unlike other types of racing, STPR offers activities for all kinds of fans and everyone in the family.
“This has become a very popular family event, especially with the Tioga County Fairground stages in Whitneyville, where kids can get up close to the rally cars, meet the drivers, enjoy some refreshments, and then watch the cars battle on a closed course for competitive times and a chance to win the event,” she said. “While others like to go into the woods and watch the cars, view the cars on display at the Wellsboro Green, or watch the teams work on their cars at service areas during the event on Saturday.”
The Fairgrounds stages cost $5 per person, Children under 12 free for admission each day (with a $5 donation per car to a local church youth organization for parking), with event tickets on sale in advance at the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce.
With the infusion of millions of dollars to local area businesses rivaling a national convention, a good blend of internationally-known drivers and local competitors, and the American Rally Association championship points chase all highlight the arrival of STPR® to the state forests near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, again announcing the coming of spring in Tioga County.
Waste Management also hosts the opening stages of the rally on its expansive grounds just outside Wellsboro (in Duncan, Penn.) on Friday afternoon, June 2. Admission for the spectator area at Waste Management is $7, and tickets are available only at the gate. Details are on the event website under “Spectators.”
ARA is an enthusiast-driven organization dedicated to the sport of stage rally and is a transparent and inclusive sanctioning body. As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit ARA is led by elected and appointed board members who guide the sport in the best interest of the members. ARA delivers a framework for safety, competition, promotion, and educational forums for all aspects of stage rally. The success of the organization is dependent on many experienced volunteers working toward the common goal of a thriving stage rally program in America.
As described on the ARA website, the sport of performance rally has always been a “low-profile” sport in the U.S. despite the presence of name brands such as Travis Pastrana and Ken Block and Subaru of America. Although the sport cannot exist without competitors, conversely it cannot survive without events.
Hence a small group of organizers started to consider if there was a better way of “managing” the sport. Those considerations pointed to the creation of a nonprofit organization known as the “Better Way”, a path followed by a number of sport governing bodies including the NHRA, SCCA, USAC, etc.
In the United States, performance rally teams have a driver and co-driver (or navigator) for each car, and the competitors race in segments (or stages) on closed public roads, trying to get from the beginning to the end of the stage as fast as they can. Unlike other forms of motorsports, there is no practice allowed, and teams are only allowed one pass to review the course at the public speed limit before the event. In competition, the navigator then barks out the route instructions while the drive proceeds – sometimes at speeds exceeding 100 miles-per-hour – through forest, desert, and logging around at events around the country. The cars, all street legal to allow driving on public roads between racing stages, are compact and subcompact sports cars with varying amounts of performance modifications depending on the class they are running in. The sight of these cars, running at speed through the woods to beat the clock, makes exciting spectating for the fans who come out to watch performance rally.
The Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally was first conducted by the Finger Lakes Region, SCCA in 1977, with the assistance of members of other sports car clubs in the Rochester, N.Y area. Members of these clubs (Triumph Touring Club, Corvair Owners Club, MG Car Club and others) had experience with previous performance events such as the Snowblower and Lunar Lunge which ran out of Rochester as early as 1965 and were part of the M.O.N.Y. series (Michigan, Ohio and New York), the forerunner of the SCCA ProRally series.
STPR® was the last of the great endurance events on the national schedule maintaining the one day format and is designed with a high stage/transit mileage ratio and, thanks to the outstanding cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), some of the best and most demanding roads in the country. With the additional of the Waste Management stages and the Fairgrounds, the Rally went to two days in 2008.
The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally is a National Championship Rally of approximately 259 miles long with approximately 125 miles of competitive stages. Within the overall event, there are two regional rallies.
The Sherwood Forest Rally includes Stages 1 – 8, and is approximately 50 stage miles.
The Finger Lakes Rally includes stages 9 – 16 and is approximately 75 stage miles.
Stages 4 and 5 on Friday, June 2 and Stages 15 and 16 on Saturday, June 3, are closed course, Super Special Stages at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in Whitneyville. Combined, the two nights at the Fairgrounds attract between 2,000 and 3,000 people.
Rally Headquarters are once again located at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in Whitneyville (Route 6, Wellsboro, PA 16901).
Friday afternoon, June 2, the start of the Rally will be from the backside of the Green in Wellsboro. Saturday morning’s start, as always, will be on Main Street in front of the Green.
In 2008, STPR® changed to a new two-day format to better utilize new competitive content, and give spectators more daylight viewing options. In all, STPR® has six spectator locations to show the sport to maximum advantage in all its exciting aspects to the public and media.
The official hashtag for 2017 is #stpr17. Please use this on all your social media posts, photos, videos, etc.