Let's just get right to it... STPR was AWESOME.
And now I'm torn. I was able to go to STPR this year because Grand-Am weekend at Watkins Glen was moved to the end of June, early July (former IRL weekend). They used to be the same weekend and I was always at WGI for Grand-Am. So what do I do next year if GA moves back to first weekend in June??!
Anyway... here's how my weekend went.
I took Friday off from work and ended up purchasing a VIP ticket for Friday's stages. I later found out that is basically the ONLY way to see action on Friday without volunteering. So this worked out well. There were a total of 5 stages on Friday. I was able to see 1 and 3 with the VIP access - which was actually the same route. They bused us out to property owned by Waste Management and had set up a tent with chairs and catering and everything!
We had a great view actually - and even better, they ran stage 1 in one direction and stage 3 in reverse! Gave us a bit of variety. I had a bunch of great pics from it all too. After that was all over, the buses took us back to the Tioga County Fairgrounds for the Subaru Super Special Stages (4 and 5). This was basically a short rallycross style course cut in the fairgrounds. It was pretty cool - but you couldn't see a ton and it was still really dusty. The VIP pass got me in for free though - so that worked out. I also got to see a Civic roll in one of the races (they were fine - very little damage even!).
Believe it or not, I almost didn't go on Saturday. I had done something to my calf that day and it was killing me to walk on it (even woke me up in the middle of the night, it hurt so bad). By the time I got up and showered, I decided to go try to catch a couple more stages. I decided on stages 9 and 12 (which again was the same route). This turned out to be brilliant. I was a bit sad they went the same direction for both stages, but the location was awesome.
This was what I thought a rally should be like. A long drive to the middle of nowhere, turn on to the dirt road for about 4-5 miles, turn on to another dirt road for a couple miles. Then park in a random clearing in a state park. Walk through a small field, down into the woods and find some fencing and caution tape! And there's the course. Not more than 10-15 feet away.
We were actually on a long sweeping corner that worked to the spectator's advantage - we got to see two different cars roll at the same exact spot. All drivers were OK, but it was pretty damn cool to watch (and photograph!). It was weird to have that moment when you're shooting some photos and then you realize it has gone terribly wrong and you need to MOVE YOUR ASS. Thankfully neither car really came near where I was standing - but wow. Adrenaline.
Anyway... it really was a great time and I'm happy I had gone both days. I took a TON of photos (something like 2500+) and ended up posting 2 galleries with over 250 quality pics. You can check them out here:
And it needs to be said again (and again and again) thank you to all of the workers and volunteers that let people like me enjoy such a great event. You're awesome.