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March 4, 2021

Throwback Video: New York Rally

Throwback Video: New York Rally

We do some fun stuff here at the SCCA, and love to look back at our history. A lot of those pieces are archived in Watkins Glen, New York at the International Motor Racing Research Center, where the SCCA Archives live.

But there’s still a lot of amazing stuff in the wild – call it the “barn find” of SCCA information. It’s that stuff that just can’t be recreated anywhere else.

When Anne Jackson’s parents, Bob and Anne Cochrane, passed away in 2019, they had a lot of home movies. While both were avid SCCA participants, especially in Rally, Bob had the expertise of working in the GE-Syracuse, Broadcast Division and being an amateur movie buff and photographer. That led to this wonderful “barn find,” of the 1956 First Annual Historic New York Cherry Valley Tour and Trial, a two-day Rally from Cazenovia to Cherry Valley, N.Y.

It’s a fun eight-minute look at the two days of Rally, and we got to learn a little bit about Bob and Shirley. Bob left some notes:

“The General Manager of our Broadcast Equipment Department, and my boss’s boss, was a man named Paul Chamberlain. Paul was an avid sports car enthusiast and drove a Jaguar sedan. I knew nothing about the sport before meeting him, but once I discovered the group I was all over it, for probably obvious reasons – new friendships with many other sports car aficionados at G.E., exciting adventures and all at an affordable cost. So it wasn’t long before we traded in the [~1948 DeSoto Business Coupe] for a brand new 1955 Ford Station wagon, and of course my first sports car, a used black & yellow 1953 MG TD. I completely rebuilt the MG’s engine.

“I drove the TD a lot back and forth to work, a lot of fun and a great ride.

“Shirley and I and the MG soon became an integral part of the Sports Car scene in the greater Syracuse area, and most weekends would find us participating in “Rallies.” These were not “races,” by the way – I never participated in any races because I felt it was too dangerous and way demanding of my vehicle and besides, it was such fun just doing the rallies! Great festivities at the end, always ending at some popular Inn or restaurant, where we’d all have dinner (and drinks!) together, and awards made to the top three winners.

“Since the key was precise timing, the only timepiece we had really was my Grandpa’s gold pocket watch. Yes, it did seem like a rough application for it but such was our devotion to the rally. The watch was suspended from the latch on the glove compartment, where we could keep close watch on our elapsed time, and of course it would swing back and forth as we careened around corners! If you look closely, you will easily see the fine scratch-marks on the back of the watch from those excursions!”

So while the cars are certainly different (many of us would love to have those daily drivers today!), the fun was clearly the same.

The Northeast Ohio SCCA is a regional chapter of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). We are Ohio’s home for every motorsports enthusiast


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