STPR logo
Finger Lakes Region, SCCA
round five of the
1996 Michelin PRO Rally Championship

Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
May 31 - June 2, 1996

PRO Rallying is the most exciting and demanding motorsport sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). With its high percentage of stage miles and a course featuring some of the most challenging roads in the world, Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally (STPR) is one of SCCA's best known events.

This year marks the TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of STPR.

Table of Contents

STPR '96 At A Glance

WHERE— Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

WHAT— PRO Rallying is the most exciting and demanding motorsport sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). With its high percentage of stage miles and a course featuring some of the most challenging roads in the world, Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally (STPR) is one of SCCA's best known events.

WHO— STPR is conducted by the Finger Lakes Region (FLR) of SCCA in cooperation with the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources Bureau of Forestry. FLR Is headquartered in Rochester, New York.

SPONSORED BY— The PRO Rally Series is presented by Michelin, with local event sponsors Blossburg Beverage Company, Citizens and Northern Bank, and the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce.

TWO DIV1S1ONALS— STPR '96 will encompass two Coefficient 3 Divisional PRO rallies. The Tioga Divisional covers the first half stages and the Finger Lakes Divisional uses the last half stages.

THREE SERIES— STPR '96 is round five of the Michelin SCCA PRO Rally Series, and is also part of the North American Rally Cup Series. The two Divisional rallies are part of the Northeast Division series.

THE COMPETITION— STPR regularly draws the top rally teams from the United States and Canada who enjoy putting that skills to the test. Competitors from the world-wide PRO Rally community can also be found at this premier event.

THE COURSE— The course begins at The Green in Wellsboro and takes about 14 hours to complete. Competitors cover a total of 365 miles, including 150 competitive miles in 13 stages. Rally teams travel through two counties on generally smooth and twisty Pennsylvania State Forest roads, at times bordering the famous "Grand Canyon of the East" located 10 miles west of Wellsboro.

SPECTATING— Choice spectator points for the Press and the public are a special feature of STPR. The spectacular Water Crossing at Stony Fork Creek and Asaph Picnic Area are highlights of the daylight sections. Evening brings the hairpin turns of the Ridge Road area. Spectator information is available the weekend of the event at the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce across from The Green.

WORKERS— Volunteers are needed for Registration, Stages, Scoring, and 4-wheel drive Sweep. The best opportunity to spectate is reserved for workers, who have access to restricted parts of the route. No experience necessary. Medical (basic life support certification), and licensed HAM radio operators are also essential. A collector's item souvenir pin is provided for all registered workers.

A SPECIAL RALLY— The Rally for the Special Olympics will be presented on Friday afternoon. It's designed to allow beginners to get a feel for what a rally is. NO experience necessary, it's open to anyone with a legal vehicle and valid driver's license. A driver and navigator are required, but additional passengers are permitted, so this can be a family or friends group event. Conducted on pubic roads at legal speeds, there are classes (and trophies) for beginners and advanced competitors. To learn how to compete, attend the FREE rally school Thursday evening. Proceeds from the event benefit the Tioga County Special Olympics.

Schedule of Events


7:30 p.m.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Pearl Street, Wellsboro.
"How to Compete in a Road Rally"-a school for entrants in the Car Rally for the Tioga County Special Olympics.
"How to Spectate at a PRO Rally"-an opportunity to speak with a PRO Rally driver


All Registration activities take place at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Pearl Street, Wellsboro. Enter via the Walnut St. entrance. There is NO parking on Walnut Street near the Church.

Noon - 2:30 p.m.
Registration for competitors and workers in the Car Rally for the Tioga County Special Olympics.
Noon - 8:30 p.m.
Registration for Competitors and Service Crews for STPR `96 and Tioga & Finger Lakes Divisional PRO rallies
Noon - 8:30 p.m. at Registration
Raffle ticket sales for set of Michelin tires, proceeds to Tioga Co. Special Olympics. Tires donated by Michelin Tire Company.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Scrutineering (Technical Inspection of competitor vehicles) for STPR and Divisional PRO rallies at the Tioga County Fairgrounds, Whitneyville
3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Practice stage off Route 287 near Morris
2:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Registration for PRO Rally workers: Stage workers, Ham radio operators, medics, 4X4 Sweep, etc.
3:00 p.m.
First car starts Rally for the Special Olympics from Mead's Auction parking lot, Route 6.
4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Divisional PRO Rally Licensing Seminar for new divisional competitors
9:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Welcome party for registered participants of STPR, Tioga and Finger Lakes Divisional rallies, and Rally for the Special Olympics. (not open to the general public)


7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Late worker registration by appointment only
10:20 a.m.
Around the Green, Wellsboro. Parc ExposS featuring all PRO rally competitors and their cars, in starting order
11:00 a.m.
Central Ave, Wellsboro. Wellsboro Rotary Club Chicken Barbecue St. Paul's Episcopal Church Hot Dog/Soda Raffle ticket sales for Michelin Tires Proceeds to Tioga Co. Special Olympics
11:01 a.m.
First car starts daylight section of STPR and Tioga `96 Divisional Rallies. In front of the Tioga County Courthouse.
11:30 a.m. (approximate)
First car reaches Water Crossing at Stony Fork Creek. [Stony Fork Rd. will be closed to incoming traffic at 10:30 a.m. until the stage is over]
12:35 p.m. (approximate)
First car reaches Asaph Picnic Area Spectator Point
3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Music on The Green by Spare Parts, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce
3:40 p.m.
Parc ExposS around The Green featuring all competitors and their cars
5:01 p.m.
First car starts evening rally sections of STPR and Tioga `96 Divisional Rally in front of Tioga Co. Courthouse
7:12 p.m., 10:04 p.m. (approximate)
First car reaches Joerg-Brook Spectator Point
9:15 p.m.
First car starts Finger Lakes '96 Divisional Rally at Germania


1:20 a.m. (approximate)
First car finishes STPR `96 in front of the Bilo market, Main Street, Wellsboro
8:00 a.m.
Provisional results posted in Penn Wells Hotel lobby, Main Street, Wellsboro
9:30 a.m.
Brunch and Awards at the Penn Wells Hotel Dining Room. Tire raffle winner selected.


(Note: These were removed from the server after the event).


To VOLUNTEER to WORK: Marsha Toombs, Worker Registrar: phone - 716-328-2617, email:

COMPETITOR Information: Sheila Campbell, Competitor Registrar: phone: 716-388-9135

and ACCOMMODATIONS information:
Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce
114 Main St., Wellsboro, PA 16901

No experience Necessary for the:

  • Special Olympics Rally or
  • To work STPR
We provide on-the-job training and all necessary equipment. Volunteers are also needed in Medical and Communications specialties.

Thanks for your support. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Debbi Segall - Chairman, Rally for the Special Olympics • Chief of Controls, STPR e-mail:
Marsha Toombs, Worker Registrar

[Table of Contents]


by George Osgood

published February 27, 1996, in the Star Gazette/Wellsboro Bureau

Wellsboro— The Wellsboro based 1995 Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally has been named Rally of the Year by the Sports Car Club of America. The selection marks the fourth time the rally has won the honor in it's 19-year history. None of the eight other U.S. road rallies has ever won more than twice. John McArthur of Rochester, rally Co-chairman in 1995 and Chairman this year, received the award last week at the Sports Car Club of America's National Convention in Atlanta.

And he accepted it on behalf of the volunteers—from Tioga County, PA, and the Rochester area—who turn out for the event each year.

"This is their award, not mine," McArthur said. "This event does not happen without those people. They are the key."

The 20th edition of the rally takes place June 1-2 in and around Wellsboro.

In PRO Rallying, up to 70 cars drive flat out performance stages on winding, hilly dirt roads in State forests. "Transit" stages, in which the rally drivers must obey all traffic laws, link the performance stages throughout the two-day, 365 mile event. The rally traditionally fills motel rooms in Wellsboro and Mansfield and bring in the top U.S. drivers as well as some international competitors.

"The Sports Car Club of America recognized the local rally as the best in the country following recommendations from National Rally Steward Tom Grimshaw of Florida," McArthur said. "I've got a real good team, and we worked very closely with Tom last year. The award is really based on how well it all works."

"He looks at all the events," McArthur said. "Did it run on time, on schedule? Was it professionally run? Was it safe? He looks at the route book, and listens to the comments from competitors. He looks at the whole package deal, and then he decides."

John Buffum, 11-time U.S. Rally Champion, a former National Rally Steward and six-time winner of the Wellsboro rally, agreed with others that the biggest part of the "whole package deal" is the volunteers—from the event chairman to the emergency-room doctor on the course in a four-wheel-drive vehicle "to the road marshal who is blocking off a road at two in the morning so the rally cars can run."

"The biggest strength of STPR is people strength," Buffum said from Libra Racing, his race and rally shop in northern Vermont. "Strength of personnel. There are lots of good chiefs and lots of good Indians."

"Having a good rapport with the Chamber of Commerce and with the whole town is so important," he said. "It's invaluable. I know because I put on rallies. And at STPR, the organizers have that."

The Wellsboro rally was judged the best U.S. rally in 1983, 1988 and 1990. Durwood Learn has been there for all of those. In fact, he has worked as a volunteer at all 19 of the rallies.

"I have been involved in STPR in so many ways I can't remember them all," said Learn, 61, of 13 Pearl St., Wellsboro. "Starting line, finish line, the creek crossing, security—about everything, looking back through the years."

"It's amazing to watch those guys and how they drive," said Learn, most of whose duties have involved two-way radio work. "It's a lot of fun for me and the other volunteers just to work the event. We get a lot of satisfaction from it. Especially when we're needed most," he said. "When a car comes in and the driver says there's a wreck at such and such mileage, I can be on the radio, get the information out and have someone moving within seconds. But the whole event is great, It's a great pleasure to work STPR."

McArthur said he and the other organizers would continue to work to make the area rally the best. And another award would be especially fitting this year, as the event celebrates it's 20th running.

"That's what we're aiming for," McArthur said. "That's our plan."

[Table of Contents]

History of STPR

Rochester, New York has always been a very active area for Rallying. In the 1960's and early 70's the local Rochester clubs presented two annual performance night rally events, run out of Rochester, down into the Finger Lakes area of the State. These events were part of the M.O.N.Y. series (Michigan, Ohio and New York) and were the forerunner of the Pro Rally series as we know it today. Even though these events were mainly held at night on remote roads, using a set average speed, they did often attract the attention of the local police and the occasional resident.

The route instructions might have indicated an average speed of only 49 mph, but careful adjustment of the odometer factor by the Rally Master often boosted the actual average speed well into the 50's. In those days there were no separation of transits and stages - it was more like one big stage on open roads. To increase the average speed even more, you had to stop at the controls, get your time, get back in the car and leave. The perfect time for a control was usually on the 55 second mark, and your out time was the top of the minute you entered. It was often almost impossible to make the required speeds, especially for the Snowblower, which was run in similar ice and snow conditions to that of the Maine Forest Rally. These events were run from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and were around 500 miles long, with the only service a gas station about every 150 miles.

The last of these events to be run out of Rochester, was in 1972, and while the exact reason they were not held anymore is not know, it was probably a combination of pressure from the authorities, lack of insurance, and lack of National organization.

In the next few years a conversion to stage events was beginning to take place around the country. There was a desire of the Rochester rally following to join this conversion, but a major road block in New York State, was a law that was on the books, which banned the use of the roads for motorsport racing. This law was put into place after a spectator was killed at Watkins Glen in the early '50's, during an annual race there, which was run through the streets of the town in the days prior to the track being built.

In 1975-6, a SCCA Finger Lakes Region member by the name of Bill Leathersich, tried to restart the night performance rallies, but when he found that the interest was not there, he turned to starting to organize a stage event. He found that Pennsylvania did not have a law regarding motorsports, and also found that there were an abundance of great rally roads in the forests just south of New York State. Bill made some great selections in those early days, many of the roads we use today were found by him and of course probably the most important choice was that of selecting Wellsboro to be the Headquarters of the Rally. From that starting point the relationship between the Finger Lakes Region and Wellsboro has grown to point now where the Rally is jointly organized by two committees, one in Wellsboro and one in Rochester. In May 1977 the first Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally, or as it is mainly known today, STPR, was held. In those early days, it was the members of the Rochester clubs such as, Triumph Touring Club, Corvair Owners Club, MG Car Club, SCCA and several others, that worked together to get that all important first event off the ground.

From these beginnings, the event has grown to become one of the "Classic" PRO Rallies in the country, winning the "Top" PRO Rally award an unprecedented four times, in 1983, 1988 and 1990 and most recently in 1995. Both the Finger Lakes Region members and the Community of Wellsboro, are proud to say this is our event.

Copyright (c) 1996, Finger Lakes Region, SCCA. All rights reserved