Book About American Rallies In The 1950s

A couple of days ago I posted a note that I was looking for some information about the 1954 Great American Mountain Rally.  Since that time I have got some good information about the rally.  Scott Morris of Ontario sent me a couple of articles that were published in “Motorsport” magazine on the 1953 and 1954 runnings of the Great American Mountain Rally.  In a subsequent email to me, Scott pointed out that there were a few pages about the rally in the book by David Hebb and Arthur Peck “A Complete Handbook Sports Car Rallies, Trials and Gymkhanas” that was published in 1956.  Scott said that the 1956 Edition of this book had some comments about the Great American Mountain Rally that were not included in the 1960 Edition of the same book.  Fortunately I have a copy of the 1956 edition of this book, but I had not looked at it for some time and frankly had forgotten that it discussed the Great American Mountain Rally.

Hebb and Peck 1

This Is A Good Book About American Rallies In The 1950s

The book is as advertised, a complete handbook for rallying at that time.  Rallying was quite different in those days, especially when it comes to the navigation and timing equipment.  Timing was made using wind-up analog clocks and stopwatches.  Accurate time was determined by using shortwave radios to pick up the time signals from the US Bureau of Standards.

The book discusses the use of odometers, but rather than discussing an auxiliary odometer, it is only on how to use the standard odometer that comes with the car.

Hebb and Peck 2

These People Must Be Really Lost!

The book uses pencil or charcoal drawings by George Janes that are good rally sketches.  I have included a couple of these drawings in this post.

Hebb and Peck 3

Let’s Hope That The Next Car Along Can Pull Them Out

This book is a good reference for American rallies in the 1950s.  From the material included in the book it seems that the car-related activities were only on both coasts of the USA.  Perhaps it is because of the location of the authors, but most of the references are to rallies in the northeast USA and the New York area.  There is even a reference to the Touring Club of New England which I used to belong to until it just seemed to fade away.

I want to thank Scott Morris for the information about the Great American Mountain Rally and for causing me to take a second look at this interesting rally book.  By the way, I am still looking for information about any Sunbeam Alpines that competed in the 1954 Great American Mountain Rally.

I think that I will put together the information that I am getting about the Great American Mountain Rally to make a good record of this rally.

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6 Responses to Book About American Rallies In The 1950s

  1. Jay Nemeth-Johannes says:

    I second that book. Hebb updated it at least twice in the 60s to reflect the changing community, and both of those are worthwhile as well. Jean Calvin wrote one in the early 70s titled Rallying to Win that is also a good read. It shows some familiar faces as they were 40 years ago.
    Along the same lines, I have picked up a couple of pieces, scanned them and placed them out for others to enjoy.
    The first item is the promotional book for the 1954 Continental Divide National rally. I was a member of Colorado Region for many years, and this flyer is a real insight on how things were done back then. See it at:
    The second item is the Frebruary 1961 special Rally issue of SportsCar. It has a lot of articles on the changing nature of the sport as seen back then. It can be found at:

    • Hi Jay,
      I was not aware that the Hebb book was revised over time. I had thought that these were merely additional printings of the same material. Jean Calvin’s book as you mention is a good book. And when we are mentioning US rallying books of that era, I should include Larry Reid’s books.

      Thanks for providing a link to those archival documents! I started to take a look at them, but I will come back over the weekend and look at them in more detail.

      I have noticed that in the Great American Mountain Rally, first place was a free entry into the famous Alpine Rally in Europe. What a great way to promote two rallies at the same time! Wouldn’t a free entry into the Historique Monte Carlo rally be quite a prize for a rally in the USA!

      Thanks again!
      Steve McKelvie

  2. ianhgb says:

    I purchased this book on the strength of your posting. For as a relative beginner to Road Rally, I enjoy reading about how things used to be done, hoping for some ideas for when I put on my own rallies. When I received the book and opened it up some pieces of paper dropped out. The first was from a previous owner of the book and was a critique of his performance in the Bristol Road Rally of 1959 all nicely typed on vellum. The other pieces of paper were a correspondence between said owner and Larry Reid at the SCCA (on official SCCA headed paper) dated 1963. These discussed the use of standardized definitions in Road Rally G.I.s. All very interesting reading.

    • I hope that you enjoy the book. One thing to keep in mind is that in the early 1950s neither the cars, the tires, the roads, nor the snow removal were as good as they are now. When I got my copy of the same book it also had a sheet of thick paper included as well. It was a speed table with the time to travel distances at various speeds. This would have been very useful in those pre-rally computer days.
      By the way I have found several sources of info on the 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956 running a of the Great American Mountain Rally. In addition I have been corresponding with people, like Leo Rizzo, who competed in the Great American Mountain Rally. I have put the information together and hope to post it soon. Still looking for more info. I know that there are reports of the rally in December issues of Autocar in 1954 and 1955. They are on sale on eBay, but the seller rejected my offer. Hopefully I’ll have the pieces together soon so some of this history won’t get lost.
      Steve McKelvie

  3. Frank Eshleman says:

    Steve – My name is Frank Eshleman. I was at the finish of the Great Mountain Rally in 1954 to see my friend, Leo Rizzo, finish the rally. I don’t remember which position he finished. I also remember the battered Sunbeam that Sterling Moss drove. Can you furnish me an address for Leo Rizzo?
    Frank Eshleman

    • Hi Frank,
      I have provided you with a telephone number that I have for Leo in a private email that I sent to you. I do not have an email address for Leo. Please say “Hi” to Leo for me and again thank him for information on the Great American Mountain Rally.
      Steve McKelvie

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