Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More than 60 teams to compete in America’s longest-running gravel rally


Now that the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado, previously America’s oldest rally-style event on dirt, is raced totally on paved roads, the 36th edition of the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® (STPR®), presented by Citizens and Northern Bank, is now the continent’s longest continuous gravel performance rally.

Subaru Rally Team USA's David
Higgins and Craig Drew won
last year's STPR®/Credit: Lori Lass
Also the oldest, continuously-running motorsports event in the state of Pennsylvania, the 2012 STPR® event, which is round four of the Rally America National Championship, will take place June 1 - 3, 2012, in Wellsboro, Pa.  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 is pleased to report that large entry, stable event sponsorship, and new wrinkles to this year’s rally should keep things interesting for both the serious and casual rally fan.

“Our sanctioning body, Rally America, is under new ownership this year, and the sport of performance rally seems to be making a comeback.  We have more young drivers getting into the sport, while some of the veterans who have run with us in the ‘70s and ‘80s are still coming back to Wellsboro to compete," Croucher said. "For family entertainment, we have retained both the Friday and Saturday daytime sessions for the race cars at the Green, as well as the Subaru Super Special Stages Friday and Saturday nights at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.  Combine that with free spectating in the forest, plus available VIP tickets for bus transportation and private viewing areas."

Directions to the free spectator areas will be available in the free spectator guides and can be obtained at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce or the Tioga County Fairgrounds starting Wednesday, May 30, or online for download from www.stpr.org starting May 25. VIP Super Pass tickets, which include bus transportation to private viewing areas and special up-front seating at the Fairgrounds both Friday and Saturday, cost $50 a day and can be purchased through the Chamber (details below). 

The Fairgrounds stages cost five dollars for admission each day. Advance sale tickets are available at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce (info at 570-724-1926).

One of the other changes made several years ago, the transition of STPR® to an alcohol-free event, has helped enhance the family enjoyment of the rally for everyone, and made the administration of the event, both in town and in the woods, easier.

Citizens & Northern Bank, Waste Management, Subaru of America return as sponsors

With Waste Management, plus Citizens and Northern Bank, the Philadelphia Zone of Subaru of America, Inc., and the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce sponsorship of the event helping to defray overhead expenses, the STPR® Committee is able to offer the rally to the area at little or no cost to the community. Besides the 400 volunteers who work the rally, many of whom come in from out of town and use local services, another estimated 10,000 people come to the Wellsboro area as either spectators or workers for the various teams and their sponsors.

“With our increased cost over the years, it is only because of the involvement of these sponsors that we can offer the event with little or no cost to the community and still be an economic force in the area,” Croucher said.

More than 60 race cars, the infusion of millions of dollars to local area businesses rivaling a national convention, and Rally America National 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.

Follow Along On Any Device

A complete description of the event, including how to register to be a rally volunteer and rally schedules, is available at the official event website, www.stpr.org.   Other popular sections of the site include local lodging information, area tourist attractions, an up-to-date entry list, as well as live rally information during the event.

To encourage interactivity with competitors and fans, social media sites include STPR News and Announcements blog (http://news.stpr.org), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/STPRRally), and Twitter (www.twitter.com/stpr_rally) as well as various multimedia available through You Tube and Flickr.

During the event, watch a live Twitter feed for rally updates and media notes with links to the various news and multimedia sites.  Fans and competitors should use the hashtag #stpr12 to see STPR-related tweets appear in the event feed.

Rally America also provides comprehensive rally coverage and live scoring on its web site www.rally-america.com.

What is STPR® and Performance Rally?

The Finger Lakes Region, SCCA in 1977, first conducted the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally with the assistance of members of other sports car clubs in the Rochester, NY 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.

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 the course is not revealed to the competitors until the navigator receives the route instructions before the start of the event.  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 sub-compact 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.

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.

The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® presented by Citizens and Northern Bank is a National Rally, approximately 267 miles long with approximately 117 miles of competitive stages. The Sherwood Forest Rally is a Regional Rally, coefficient 2, which includes Stages One through Eight and is approximately 47 miles. The Finger Lakes Rally is a Regional Rally, coefficient 3, which includes Stages Nine through 16 and is approximately 70 miles.

In 2008, STPR® changed to a new two-day format to better utilize new competitive content, and give spectators more daylight viewing options. The Super Special Stages at the Tioga County Fairgrounds, sponsored by Subaru, and will run once on Friday and once on Saturday. STPR® has six spectator locations to show the sport to maximum advantage in all its exciting aspects to the public and media.

VIP Super Pass Back for 2012

After last year’s sold-out STPR® VIP Super Pass, the Committee is continuing its expanded spectator option to include separate Friday and Saturday programs for those who might not be able to do both days.

Starting Friday afternoon with the Waste Management stages, where you will be escorted to a private viewing area, to Saturday afternoon, when a bus will take you to a secluded, private area to watch the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon stages, you can get a view of the action previous reserved only for the working media. Food and drinks will be served, and VIP Super Pass holders will receive special rally mementos. Bring your camera for even better photos than before.

Plus, there will be VIP seating for the stages both Friday and Saturday nights at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.  Bus transportation will be provided to and from the Fairgrounds to all points.  All this for only $50.00 per person per day, however, children are not free, as the number of VIP Super Passes is limited.  Pick them up today at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce and Tioga Publishing Company, or call 570-724-1926 for additional information.

What is Performance Rally

Rally car racing is considered the extreme sport of automobile racing and is often described simply as "real cars, real roads, real fast." This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads.

The 2012 Rally America National Championship series consists of six exciting events throughout the country in many different weather and road conditions. Top teams in the series are also invited to compete in the Summer X Games, the leading action sports event broadcast live on ABC and ESPN – with some of those spots being decided at STPR®. Among the marques typically represented in Rally America events are Subaru, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen.

Open Lite Academy – New Entry Point for Rally

STPR will be the inaugural event for the Open Lite Academy. This is a new series for cars competing in the Open Light class. It is the only Rally America event so far in the series, crossing sanctioning organizations to include all teams competing in this class. This is an opportunity for STPR® to showcase the series within the event. We are very proud and pleased to be the first to bring this class of car to the attention of our many fans.

2011 STPR – It was Higgins and Subaru

Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew won the 2011 Waste Management  Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally presented by Citizens & Northern Bank (STPR) by a narrow margin of 1.3 seconds over rivals Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard.

Higgins had a 37-second deficit halfway through day two after losing intercom at the start of Stage 8 and puncturing a tire on Stage 9, but came back to lead the rally by 2.5 seconds going into the final stage. This is the third time Higgins had taken the outright STPR win in his career, having won the event back in 2002 and 2003.

The Rockstar Mitsubishi crew of Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard finished in a close second place after controlling the rally lead up until the second to last stage. The privateer driver set a blistering pace from the start despite being down on power and went on to win six of the event’s fourteen stages including both passes of the Super Special at the Tioga Fairgrounds.

The podium was rounded out by Ramana Lagemann and co-driver Chrissie Beavis, who once again placed third overall and first in the Super Production (SP) class. Lagemann nearly retired from the rally early on day two after running out of fuel on Stage 7 only three miles from the finish.

In Two-Wheel-Drive (2WD) competition, Chris Greenhouse piloted his 1995 Plymouth Neon to his first-ever National class victory. Greenhouse and co-driver Billy Mann finished sixth overall with a 38-second lead over the second fastest team in their class and were the quickest 2WD crew on both passes of the Super Special. Brian Gottlieb and co-driver Pat Darrow placed second in class in their 1989 Honda Civic with a comfortable cushion of over one minute on Dillon Van Way. Van Way and co-driver Jake Blattner placed third in 2WD despite losing time on Stage 7 after rolling their 2011 Ford Fiesta.

2010 Two-Wheel-Drive champion Chris Duplessis is the first in North America to build and field a Ford Fiesta R2, which made its U.S. debut at STPR. Duplessis and co-driver Catherine Woods’ rally came to a disappointing end after breaking a control arm tie rod near the finish of Stage 12. Duplessis was sitting sixth overall and was well over 8 minutes ahead of his 2WD rivals when he retired.

Higgins, L’Estage Favorites for 2012 Event

For the 2012 event, Higgins/Drew come to Wellsboro after a decisive win at the Oregon Trail event in their Subaru WRX STI, and their main rivals L’Estage/Richard, are down in the points due to two straight DNFs, but look for those two teams to battle it out along with Canadian champions Leonid Urlichich/Carl Williamson in a Subaru, Travis and Terry Hanson, and Ramana Lagemann/Christine Beavis – both in Subarus.

2012 Points through three events
1, David Higgins, 61 
2, Leonid Urlichich, 26 
3, Adam Yeoman, 25 
4, Travis Hanson, 24 
5, Ken Block, 22 
6, Antoine L'Estage, 19 
7, Lauchlin O'Sullivan, 19 
8, Andrew Comrie-Picard, 18 
9, Krzysztof Holowczyc, 14

Charity Rally to Benefit Cancer Society

On Friday, June 1, the 23rd annual Relay for Life roadrally will take place in conjunction with the STPR® event.  This year’s event will benefit the Tioga Country chapter of the American Cancer Society and is opened to the public. Finger Lakes Region of the Sports Car Club of America organizes the rally.
A time-speed-distance rally designed for any legal vehicle, within the legal speed limit, on high quality paved and unpaved roads in Tioga County. This event will not use the forest roads of the Performance Rally. The easy-to-follow instructions will have a mileage to each turn. There are no tricks or traps involved in following the course.

Awards in four classes: Novice (less than six (6) rallies by anyone in the car); Stock (stock odometer and single memory calculator); Limited (any equipment which cannot accumulate time and distance simultaneously, including non-programmable calculator, relocated odometer, SCCA class "L" equipment; and Equipped (anything goes). Door Prizes, too. There is no limit to the number of people in each car and entry is limited to the first 50 paid entries.

Assisting with the charity rally is a local Relay for Life team, the Keystone Kops, headed by Shirley Spencer. This group of mostly seniors, who have volunteered since 2006 with the rally, will staff the timing checkpoints as well as other duties for the event.

Registration for the charity rally is from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., with a class for newcomers to time-speed-distance road rallying at 12:30 p.m. – all at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.  There is a mandatory drivers meeting at 1:00 p.m., and the three-hour event starts at 1:31 p.m. the fee for paid, pre-registered competitors is $35/car before May 25 and $40/car after that.  More information is available at www.flr-scca.com/rally/2012.

STPR Bonus – Sunday Morning Against the Pros

On Sunday, June 3, enthusiasts will have the opportunity to try their hand at RallyCross on the STPR® Super Special Stage at the Tioga County Fairgrounds and to compete against some of the top stage rally competitors.

Combining the features of autocross and a stage rally, a RallyCross event lets drivers race against the clock on a dirt course. Total elapsed time for a driver's multiple runs is used to determine the placings for the event. The exciting aspect is that stock street vehicles are allowed to compete. Safety equipment required is stock or better seatbelts and a Snell M95 helmet (loaner helmets may be available).

Organized by the Central New York Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the event begins at 10:00 a.m. with registration opening at 8 a.m. with car tech and mandatory drivers' meeting prior to the start. Competitors must be SCCA members, but a weekend membership is available for only $10.

Further information, including online registration, is available at http://bit.ly/K5PT5E and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CNY.SCCA.Rallycross. Deadline for online registration is Saturday, June 2.

Schedule of Events – 2012 STPR®

All Registration activities occur at the Tioga County Fairgrounds, Route 6 between Mansfield and Wellsboro, Penn. 

STPR® is an alcohol free event!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
7-9 p.m., Registration at the Tioga County Fairgrounds for competitors, service crews, officials & scrutineers

Thursday, May 31, 2012
9 a.m. - Noon/2-5 p.m./7-9 p.m., Competitor Registration and Service Crew Registration Hours NOTE: If you need special consideration, please contact the Competitor Registrar.

9 a.m.-1 p.m./2:30-8 p.m., Volunteer registration for STPR® NOTE: If you need special consideration, please contact the Volunteer Registrar.

3-8 p.m., Scrutineering for all cars.  No appointment needed. Team Crew at Scrutineering must be registered!

Friday, June 1, 2012
9-11 a.m. – Competitor Registration/Service Crew Registration

9-11 a.m. – Scrutineering open, no appointments needed. If you need Scrutineering after this time please contact the Chief for special consideration.

9 a.m.-1 p.m./2:30 - 8 p.m. – Volunteer registration for STPR®  NOTE: If you need special consideration, please contact the Volunteer Registrar.

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Novice seminar for new rallyists – Fairgrounds

11:30 a.m. – Parc Expose opens at the Green in Wellsboro

12:30 p.m. – All cars must be checked in to MTC/Mandatory Drivers meeting with Rally America Stewards at the fountain at the Green

2:01 p.m. – The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally Phase 1 begins (Sherwood Forest Rally Begins)

7 p.m. (approx) – Subaru Super Special Stage, sponsored by the Philadelphia Zone of Subaru of America,  at Tioga County Fairgrounds

9 p.m. (approx) –  Meeting for all Volunteers in the Registration building followed by Welcome Reception

Saturday, June 2, 2012

7-10 a.m. – Service Crew Registration on the Green at STPR® merchandise Tent

8:30 a.m. – Parc Expose opens around the Green in Wellsboro

9 a.m. – All cars must be checked in to MTC

10:01 a.m. – The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally Phase 2 begins  (Sherwood Forest Regional Rally continues)

12:50 p.m. (approx) – Scrutineering for cars wanting to RE-enter the second rally, located near food pavilion – Germania Service.  Finger Lakes Regional Rally begins at Germania.

6.50 p.m. – First car arrives at fairgrounds. Begin 15 minute Service and Parc Ferme.

8:15 p.m. (approx) – Subaru SSS begins

10 p.m.(approx) – Party at the Fairgrounds for all participants. Tickets are required.

ASAP after Rally ends – Posting of Provisional Scores

30 minutes after posting – Deadline for filing Scoring Inquiries & Claims

After scores are finalized – Awards Presentation at the Fairgrounds