History 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' stage rallies in the country, winning the SCCA's 'Best ProRally' award an unprecedented seven times, in 1993, 1998, 1990, 1995, 1997, 2000 and most recently in 2003.