Race

Dennis Romero of Wingate, North Carolina drives his 2008 Subaru STi on last year’s Waste Management course.

WELLSBORO — The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally moving from its traditional early June weekend until mid-September adds excitement as it is closer to the finish of the 2019 American Rally Association National Championship series presented by AMSOIL.

This year marks the 43rd running of STPR, which returns to north central Pennsylvania Sept. 12 to 14 in Wellsboro. STPR is round eight of nine in the national championship series. Subaru Motorsports USA’s David Higgins currently holds the lead with 80 national drivers’ championship points after round six, but for the first time in many years he’s finding others in contention, both piloting Ford Fiestas—Piotr Fetela, in second place with 70 points, in an FRT and Barry McKenna in an S2000.

McKenna has 53 points, the same number as Oliver Solberg in the other factory Subaru. James Monks, from Wellsboro, the rally chairman for this year’s event, is excited about the date change and the new opportunity that brings to rally competitors and the fans.

“The spectators will have both Friday and Saturday forest stages from which to view the high-speed racing action for the first time, and Antrim-based Waste Management has built a new road and spectator venue – which will take the place of the Super Special Stages at the Fairgrounds — and offers close-up rally viewing on both days, plus easy access to the service areas,” said Monks, who has been involved with the event for more than 20 years. “And that’s just the beginning of this year’s new STPR attractions.”

Unlike other types of racing, STPR offers activities for all kinds of fans and everyone in the family. 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.

The significance of the new date is not lost on Julie VanNess, executive director of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The date change of the STPR event affords the opportunity for some exciting additions including the Thursday night, under the lights, Parc Expose at The Green. With the September date the event promises to boost the area economy in a month that can be a little slower. Wellsboro welcomes all to STPR,” she stated.

STPR 2019 kicks off with a Parc Expose from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12 around The Green, a park located in the heart of downtown Wellsboro. This gives fans the opportunity to see the cars up close, chat with the teams and grab some selfies and autographs. The cars will line up for a ceremonial start on Main Street in front of the Tioga County Courthouse at 8 p.m.

Event sponsor Waste Management hosts several stages of the rally on its expansive grounds just outside Wellsboro in Duncan Township, Pennsylvania. Admission for the Waste Management spectator areas on Friday, Sept. 13 is $7, admission on Saturday, Sept. 14 is $5 and for a two-day combo ticket is $10.

Tickets will be available at the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce office a couple of weeks before the event and at the gate during STPR. Children under 12 and active military personnel with identification will be admitted free. Parking at Waste Management is free. As always with the forest spectator areas there are no fees.

Friday (Day 1) starts in the forest where fans will see the cars come through the sharp 90-degree right-hander on the Lebo stage at the Twelve Mile spectator area in the morning and again in the afternoon. Another forest viewing location is the Cushman spectator area on the Randall stage, which gives fans both a morning and an afternoon opportunity to see the cars slide through this fast switchback.

Fans can view the rally from four different vantage points at the improved Waste Management Complex with a “mini” stage on Friday afternoon followed by two longer stages that include the popular jump. Day 1 will finish at Waste Management.

Saturday morning (Day 2) begins early with a second parc expose from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. a ceremonial start from Main Street to the first stage of the day. The competing rally cars will transit to the Asaph stage, home to the popular Asaph Picnic Area where fans can watch the teams enter the spectator area coming fast downhill with a sharp right-hand turn over a bridge, followed immediately by another right turn.

The Wilson Point spectator area on the Thompson stage is another favorite. The cars come through about noon and have to maneuver around a hay-bale chicane at a tight corner. The final stage and end of the rally will be at the Waste Management complex, followed by the traditional podium champagne spray.

Details are on the event website at www.stpr.org, or at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce, (570) 724-1926.