Rally cars on display in downtown Wellsboro, then performance run in Duncan on February 17

[ Download PDF of this press release; contact A. Schupack for high-res. photos ]

Contact/Event Information:
Event Media Officer – Andy Schupack – 401-741-6980 – as@kpgr.com

Event website: http://wmwr.info/  (includes entry list, full rally schedule, spectator info)
Volunteer information and signup: http://wmwr.info/volunteering/
Facebook| Twitter (@wmwrally) | Instagram (@wmwrally)

Wellsboro, Penn. – February 9 — For the 2018 Waste Management RallySprint (WMWR), ten competition rally cars have registered as of this date with the organizing committee hoping for close to 15 entries by Saturday, Feb. 17, the day of the event. Visitors and locals in the Wellsboro area will have plenty of entertainment choices between viewing rally cars and participating in winter activities in town.

The RallySprint is being held in conjunction with the Feb. 15-18 Wellsboro Winter Celebration with events for the whole family. Other events besides the RallySprint include Wine 101: Learn to Select and Pair Wines Like a Pro seminar on Feb. 17;  Jazz and Dixieland music concerts all weekend, February 15 -18; Ice Carving activity, Feb. 17, and the Chili with a Chance of Chocolate event on February 17. A complete schedule and description of all the Wellsboro Winter Celebration Activities is available at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce website: http://www.wellsboropa.com/images/winter-fest2-18-3.pdf.

WMWR Chairman Dave Avery likes the synergy between the RallySprint events and the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce – a partnership that dates back to the beginning of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® (STPR®) in 1976.

“I love being part of the Wellsboro Winter Celebration. The Waste Management Winter RallySprint and STPR combine to make a huge effect on the economy of Wellsboro and Tioga County,” Avery said. “The Winter Celebration and WMWR will bring lots of people to the Green in Wellsboro. Our Parc Expose (competition cars display at the Green) just adds to the excitement and activities in Downtown Wellsboro. The Chamber of Commerce has been a wonderful partner.”

The RallySprint will be headquartered at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in Whitneyville on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17.

SCCA RallySprint is like the performance style of stage rally, yet, on a smaller scale, to the format of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally, yet it also has similarities to SCCA RallyCross.

“RallySprint is intended to appeal to RallyCross drivers who want to move to the next level of the sport and to current stage rally drivers who are seeking alternate venues to compete in their rally cars,” is how the Sports Car Club of America defines this sport. “RallySprint is similar to a rally-type stage but shorter competition stages and lower speeds, usually run on sections of dirt, gravel or snow-covered roads or trails closed to the public.”

As provided by the SCCA Rules, all competition vehicles must meet specific safety requirements including a roll cage, competition safety harnesses and seats and other measures for the team’s protection. A driver and co-driver are also required to use a head-and-neck restraint and wear protective gear such as FIA-standard driver suit and helmet.

Matt Chmielewski, from Harvey’s Lake, Penn. and co-driver Pete Sandy from Moosic, Penn., winners of the R4O class at the 2017 WMWR, will be back this year to defend their title in the #929 Subaru WRX.

Matt Chmielewski, from Harvey’s Lake, Penn. and co-driver Pete Sandy from Moosic, Penn., winners of the R4O class at the 2017 WMWR, will be back this year to defend their title in the #929 Subaru WRX. (Lori Lass)

The contest will begin at 11 a.m. on Feb. 17 with competition cars parked at The Green, a park located in the heart of downtown Wellsboro where many of the Winterfest activities will already be underway. That will give fans an opportunity to get up close to see the cars, meet the drivers and co-drivers.

For the ceremonial start, the first car will leave The Green about 11:40 a.m. followed in one-minute intervals by the others. The goal of each team is to finish the competition stages in the fastest time. Modifications to the rally cars are based on the class they enter. All have to be street legal to allow them to get to the stage using public roads, and competitors must obey local traffic laws while driving on public streets.

The spectator area at 782 Antrim Road in Duncan Township was established in 2014. Here fans will see the cars at speed negotiating the course. The spectator area is near the service area giving fans another opportunity to see the drivers, crews and cars up close. It will open at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, and there will be a $5.00 admission fee, with the first car starting the event at 12:01 p.m. There will be food vendors and portable bathrooms on-site, although amenities are minimal. GPS Map coordinates are: N41.644/W77.275.

If there are car buffs who might want a closer and more inside look at the rally-style competition, there is still time to sign up as a volunteer. The organizers need good people who can help monitor the spectator areas and course for safety.

“We also need people willing to learn how to operate the start and finish locations, which involve interacting with the competitors and being VERY ACCURATE with time cards,” Avery said. “Also, people with Ham radio licenses are needed to help control the event by quickly communicating between rally control and crews at their locations.”

Volunteers can sign up and work with friends, and all training needed will be provided onsite.  Volunteer information can be obtained started Friday, February 16, at the Tioga County Fairgrounds, or by following this link: http://wmwr.info/volunteering/.

This closed course RallySprint will be run on Waste Management property in Duncan Township, the same as it has been since 2011. It consists of one stage road run five times or 44 stage miles with a total distance of just over 56 miles, including transit and stage miles. That same area will be used as part of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally’s stages on June 1 and 2 this summer.

One of the main purposes of a February RallySprint is to give aspiring stage rally drivers a chance to learn how to control their rally cars at speed in the snow. WMR Chairman Avery is hoping for snow-covered stages on the Waste Management-owned roads, something that didn’t happen for last year’s event as warm temperatures turned the stages into slush and mud.

Oscar Simsek, from Brooklyn, NY, along with co-driver Gustavo Garrido, from Newington, Conn., had a rough go at last year’s event, finishing near the bottom of the standings after having a mechanical problem on almost every stage. They hope to bring their R2U 1991 BMW 325 to a higher WMWR finish this year.

Oscar Simsek, from Brooklyn, NY, along with co-driver Gustavo Garrido, from Newington, Conn., had a rough go at last year’s event, finishing near the bottom of the standings after having a mechanical problem on almost every stage. They hope to bring their R2U 1991 BMW 325 to a higher WMWR finish this year. (Lori Lass)

“The bare roads have some parts that are very rough and rocky, having a reputation as “Car Breakers”. As of this writing, it is snowing in Wellsboro, with snow predicted several times in the next week,” Avery said. “I am doing the snow dance hoping that there is no melting. I also hope for snow since WMWR is part of the Wellsboro Winter Celebration, and their activities will also be much better with snow.”

The inaugural February event was in 2011, the Wellsboro Winter Rally.

“It was designed to provide a path to competition in regional stage rallying and give teams a taste of full stage rallying to support Wellsboro’s Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in June and other performance rallies,” Avery explained. “Our rally’s other purpose was to provide training for volunteers organizing and running a stage rally event like STPR.”

According to Avery, while the rules and classes are similar to what spectators are used to from the former Waste Management Winter Rally, the recent affiliation with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) adds additional safety and structure, and makes the event part of a national series – not unlike a AA or AAA minor league baseball league, giving experience to competitors and workers alike. For the competitors, the class rules require minimum modifications – helping to keep costs down – and, best of all, much reduced entry fees because of the large insurance pool provided by the more than 67,000 SCCA members nationally.

“WMWR being aligned with SCCA RallySprint fits exactly with our goals,” sAvery said.

Stephen Hyatt, SCCA National RallyCross chair, agrees with Avery, and is pleased with the progress the nationwide activity has yield in just its third year of existence.

“The SCCA RallyCross program has seen slow steady growth since we brought it out. We are looking at growth in under-served areas and with RallyCross’ sponsor DirtFish (a rally instructional facility in Washington State), we hope to cross-market into the stage rally to offer test and tunes or training for their competitors,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt also encourages prospective participants to contact their local SCCA chapter to find out how to get involved with RallySprint. Start by visiting your local Region’s RallySprint events. You’ll find a friendly group of people that love to give opinions and advise.  You will find a wealth of knowledge as well as used vehicles and equipment.  Another place to start is the forum at SCCARallyCross.com or SCCA.com. The Finger Lakes Region of the SCCA which puts on WMWR can be reached through their web site: http://www.flr-scca.com/rallycross.