Locals lobby for STPR's ARA National status to return
Stakeholders for the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) are working hard to ensure the rally returns to American Rally Associstion presented by DirtFish National season status next year.
Last week, STPR was downgraded to being an ARA Regional event only due to a lack of available roads; the competitive mileage of the event more than halved from its planned National route.
During a press conference held on Thursday by Pennsylvania state representative Clint Owlett to discuss the future of the event, the community has underlined the need to obtain access to the forbidden roads in the future.
Local government and state officials, local business owners as well as the rally organizers gave statements during the press conference, held outside Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce, to outline their case.
The decision has caused unrest in the Tioga County and American rally communities ever since.
Julie Henry, executive director of the Wellsboro COC, said that it is difficult to truly measure the economic impact that the ARA National round has brought to local communities.
“The national and international media coverage the event receives is essentially advertising Cuyahoga County,” she said.
“From 2015 to 2019 over $2.5million came into this community through lodging alone. These events are important to our communities and the economic benefits from them are unmeasurable.”
It’s not just the lodging industry that benefits from the rally though. Jerry Curreri, owner of the Timeless Destinations Bar & Grill local to the rally route, said that his business sees a 45% increase in revenue during rally week, and employees can expect an extra $500-1000 in tips during the week of the event.
Senator Cris Dush, a rally fan himself, is arguably seeing the effects of the STPR downgrade the most in Pennsylvania's District 25. Having lived in Europe for four years, seeing rallying on television reminded him of his state home.
“Rather than watching British cricket, I had the option of watching rally races that reminded me of the beautiful countryside we have here in Pennsylvania,” he said.
“The Dodge Neon actually got its ability to compete in Europe and go on an international stage because of the qualifying events that were done here.
“The people in Europe that see this and travel to watch some of their future competitors, they travel here and they see some of the beauty in this area, and it’s kind of ironic that the ones who are in charge of protecting it are the ones holding it up.”
Dush is referring to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), the organization responsible for protecting the Tioga State Forest.
“Those people who are coming here who are conservationists at heart are going to contribute to further conservation efforts,” he argued.
“This treasure that we have out here in our nature I meant to be shared not just here, but with people around the United States and around the world.”
A statement from congressman Fred Keller echoed this sentiment, showing incredible frustration with the DCNR’s actions, or lack thereof.
“Especially given the economic effects of this past year, incredibly slow action by the [Tom] Wolf administration is unacceptable, and now a huge letdown for local businesses,” said Keller.
“I’m hopeful the rally will be back next year, and we’ll continue to work with state and local partners to protect the future of this important event.”
Dush and others are committed to making a National event happen, and it likely won’t be the last you hear him talk about it.
“Next year, we’ll be on some of the test runs on the course roads,” he promised.