Alternating between blizzards and spring-like temperatures, it’s certainly been an interesting winter in the U.S.’s Northeast. For 2016, the winter rally in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania was run by the Sports Car Club of America in its inaugural RallySprint event. SCCA brought the RallySprint name back in 2015, renaming the annual event to the Waste Management Winter RallySprint. The “rally light” format runs events on private property with no public transits, reducing costs and liabilities to organizers and competitors while providing an important step between autocross and full stage rallies. It’s a great test run for driving teams and their crews as well volunteers, providing a taste of what it really takes to compete in championship stage rallies. Waste Management also hosts the first two stages of the summertime STPR full stage rally.
Overnight temperatures were below freezing. The 18 starting teams made their way from Parc Expose in the Wellsboro center to a still-frozen but thawing Waste Management property. As the first stage began, dispatches over the radio indicated that cars were quickly falling victim to the icy and muddy course. Alan Edwards and Daniel Baker slid off course into a ditch, then were extracted in a damaged but still driveable 2003 Dodge Neon.
“The first stage was very slippery as most of the road was still frozen from the overnight temperature, and four cars slid off the course. We wanted to make sure out day didn’t end after only a few miles, so we were cautious. But then, as the road began to thaw, not only did it become muddy and wet, but the rocks started to come to the surface as the gravel started to get chewed up from the cars. We ended up with four flat tires and a broken wheel before the end of the event, but we just kept going and our Subaru ran great,” said Jon Kramer after his overall win with co-driver Jason Smith, #777 1993 Subaru Impreza.
As each of five stages were run, the temperatures went up into April weather and the course went from icy mud to thick mud and puddles. No gorgeous shots of snow-spewing cars at this winter rally. Three stages were run in one direction over the same 13-mile gravel road. In mid-afternoon after the third stage the muddy cars headed to service, then back out for the last two stages in the other direction.
Because of the beautiful weather the spectator area was full, the crowd watching the competitors head up a straight-away over a fan-pleasing jump.The final stage saw the sun set and the remaining ten cars finishing as the moon rose. The Dodge Neon was the last car out driving the course – and at a normal speed – but finishing the final stage is no small feat. Hardcore.
Full results with gallery following: