The Ford Rally Team 1968-1970
Allan White, Roger Bohl and Bruce Gezon Interviews

© Wolfgang Kohrn - Interviews from December 2012 & September 2013

The Ford Rally Team  - Road Racing at its best

The team:
Ed Crocket - Mac Cornforth
Allan White- John Bain
Roger and Kathy Bohl
Nathan Jones - Russel Brown
Jack Chidester - Bruce Gezon

The cars:
5 yellow 1969 Mach 1 - 3 equipped with 351cui engines around 9T02M17708_  and 2 with 428cui engines were sent to Ford Lambs Garage Inc. in Medford, NJ on Route 70 for further preparation. This was also the place where the Ford Rally Headquarter was set up. The handover took obvious place in Medford, NJ at XXXgan Ford according to this picture (or Lucas Ford as Allan remembers). The name Lambs garage is visible in the background.



An invoice of one of the 351cui equipped Ford Rally Mach 1 thanks to Allan White

The Rallies:
Lion Event in Medford/NJ
24 Horas de Mexico

(to be filled soon)

Pictures and documents thanks to Allan White

Some pictures in the Roger Bohl interview taken from a SCCA publication 1970
























































































Allan White changed to the oval track midgets after his successful rallye career.


Where are the Mach1s today?
One of the 428 Cobra Jets from Nathan Jones was on sale in 2013 at BJ.


What about the other team members:
Sadly enough,
Jack Chidester, Russ Brown, Mac Cornforth, Nathan Jones are gone. Edgar Crocket dropped out of the Mustang scene radar, if somebody knows, if he is still around, please send us a note.
Bruce Gezon


In late 2012 and in August 2013 three members of the former Ford Rally Team contacted us independently and provided first-hand stories about their raly efforts. Thank you, Allan, Roger and Bruce for clarifying some issues around the Ford Rally team effort. Special thanks to Allan for all the exclusive pictures and further documentation. In forwarding e-mails we brought them together and hope they will reunite at some time in the future. Carol Thornton, former Mrs. Crocket, also contacted us in Sept. 2014. She told us that her husband died already in November 2006 and corrected a few details of the story. Thanks to all contributions.



ED: Thank you, Allan for the documentation. Let's talk about how it began.

AW: Well, Ed Crocket was a 7 year old veteran in rallying and he was chosen by Ford to lead a team of rallye drivers for the 1969 Sports Car Club of America Manufacturers Rallye Series. Five bright yellow Mustang Mach1 were prepared. But the additional Rallye assistance program that Crocket was about to lead was also open for anyone, who wished to race a Ford in rallyes sanctioned by SCCA.

ED: Which rallyes did the 5 car Ford team participate in and what was the first event?

AW: The cars started in class A, which permitted full navigation equipment, only Jack and Bruce started in class B, which restricts the use of electronic gear.
The rally participations were assigned individually. Ed Crocket and his mate campaigned mostly in the New Jersey area, John Bain and myself, being from PA of course in the western Pennsylvania area, team 3 in Midwest, and team 4 with Johns and Brown in the Southwest.

The first race was on March 9th, 1969 at the Lions Event in New Jersey. There was as well a rallye promotion event set up by the Lake  SCCA section/ rallye instructor Harry Call at the Mall in Medford/New Jersey the 14th. of March. Several rallye cars were on display there and a rallye school for beginners was set up. The rallye show supported by several local dealers including Lambs Ford and others lasted a full week in the Mooresland Mall.


ED: Can you tell us more about the teams history?
AW: Yes, I still have some of the original documentation. Edgar M. Crocket was the team leader, he had been a Major in the Air Force and was about to retire in his age of 41 to put his full energy in this national effort for Ford. He was very experienced with 7 years of rallying. His navigator, english-born Mac Cornworth, was a research engineer. Ed Crocket and Mac Cornforth had already campaigned a Mustang in the previous year (1968). Cornforth had been campaigning a Volvo as well, but "wanted to be in class A where the competition really is" he said in a local newspapers article. Crocket hat been also already been the South Jersey SCC president. The same article that I attach for your reading says that Cornforth had been also director in the South Jersey and in the Lakes sports car club. Both have been New Jersey champions in the equipped class.

Roger and Kathy Bohl were the 1967 National champions.

Nathan Jones and Russel Brown were the 1968 national defending SCCA champions.

So all in all Ed Crocket had chosen the best to make this effort a success. The press release quotes him:"We've rounded up some of the finest rallyists in the country.... Each member of the team will compete in at least 5 national and 6 divisional meets. We hope to win several individual titles as well as the team championship.
"

Update Sept. 2014:
Carol Thornton, then Mrs. Carol Crocket adds to the story:

Ed did ask for and succeeded in securing the sponsorship of Ford Motor Company, and Ford did expect him to provide the National Championship which he did with the best of the best in the Rally world at that time.
I remember a huge ad in Sports Illustrated advertising its Mach I
with the ad ( using a play on words) saying “Mach Won”.

He and Mac Cornforth were rallying in the Jersey area, the “Lion” rally was the “March Lion” rally and an annual event,
Ed and Mac also put on an annual rally called the “Jersey Devil”.



Here John Bain (left) and myself are working on the team car reparing an odometer drive during the Sunday lunch.
Back then, in addition to the larger SCCA rallies on any given weekend we had a choice of maybe 4 or 5 rallies put on by local sports car clubs.
 

ED: We have read on the web that Nathan Jones was the driver, wo had the 428 Cobra Jet and speaking of 2 Mach 1s with a 428 that actually were built. Your's was a 351cui engine 1970 Mustang. What do you remember about those?

AW: Indeed 3 cars were built with 351cui and 2 cars with 428 CJs obviously. But I preferred the 351cui, it is a much lighter engine and fits the rallye requirements much better. Easier to steer and to control on gravel roads for sure.


I  know that one of the 428 Cobra Jet was bought by the driver (Nathan Jones) after the contract was over and after his death his estate sold it and someone took it to Barrett/Jackson this year (2013) and it sold for 53,900 Dollar.
(Ed - here is a video )

ED: Were you successful?

AW: For sure, the Rally team won the SCCA Manufacturerers Championship in this series for Ford.

ED: What did you do after your rallye period?
AW: I feel fortunate to have been involved in an activity that was very popular back then ...that has totally disappeared today as the only rallies today are the pro special stage type events.

Time, speed, distance rallies and the many sports car clubs that were in existence back then have declined in my opinion due to the cost of cars and gas today and the advent of technology such as cell phones, GPS etc and the traffic congestion and urban sprawl that has occurred as many of the areas that I used to compete in that were rolling farmland and quaint scenic roads are now all built up with housing.

After running rallies every week for 10 years, I decided I liked going faster than you can in rallies and I bought an oval track midget.

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In December 2012 we had a contact to Roger Bohl and asked a few questions
.

ED:  Roger, what can you add to the article we had already from the SCCA 1970 publication about your participation in the 24 Horas de Mexico?

R.B.: The Ford Rally Team, consisting of about 5 cars, was the creation of Ed Crockett, and had competed in US events for a few years, beginning with, I believe, 1968.
In 1970, Ed proposed that we enter a team in the 24 Horas de Mexico, and film it for possible commercial value. My wife at the time, Kathryn, and I were fortunate to have won the 24 Horas event.

ED:O.k. what do you remember about the 24 Horas de Mexico?

R.B: The event ran overnight from Friday evening, then (as I recall) ran from Saturday evening through to Sunday evening.

ED: We have seen in the interior shot that there was a very special navigation system in it. Somebody from the TAG Heuer website (archivar) had contacted us earlier and explained a bit, but what do you remember?


R.B.: I designed the RoBo computer shown in the photo, around 1964, as a digital and enhanced version of the popular, simple-but-ingenious electromechanical “Tommy Box” designed by Capt. H. E (Tommy) Thomas, of Ojai, CA. 
The RoBo computer was manufactured by Heuer’s electronics operation, in Stamford, CT, but while it functioned very well, it was soon supplanted in the market by the smaller, Xeron, which to the best of my knowledge performed the same functions, but using integrated circuits rather than the discrete components in the RoBo computer. 
Despite popular belief, the name came from a collaboration of Al Ross and myself, not from my name, alone. See http://www.onthedash.com/pics4docs/Robo_Rally_Computer/

The system displayed featured the RoBo’s digital mileage correction and, with its display-and-clock unit shown above the computer, included an early-late display, visible at the top center of the dashboard.  It did not, however, control the throttle! The ubiquitous Curta calculator, shown on the propped-up lapboard, served as a backup.

Ironically, despite having the high-tech computer, we actually won the 24 Horas on the four speed sections, two of which were at night, benefitting from extremely bright quartz-iodide headlamps. The Mexican system of computing correct arrival times at checkpoints from the distance from the immediately-previous (hard to find, and often missing and frequently displaced) kilometer marker stone diminished the edge of the sophisticated computer, and the Mexican entrants had a superbly effective manual system for time-speed-distance navigation under their system.

ED: In the article they say, you got stuck in mud one time?
R.B: I don’t recall ever being stuck in mud in this event, but one of our teammates may have.The cars’ suspension took quite a beating in the event, and we had to install over an inch of shims between the wheel supports and the fenders to get the front wheels vertical enough to accept alignment after the event.

ED
:What do you know about the whereabouts of the Rally cars? We noted that one was and is again on sale this year (The Nathan Jones car)?
R.B: All the Ford Rally Team cars, to the best of my knowledge, were all returned to Ford (or to its leasing company) each year,  when Ford decided to withdraw its support of rally competition...(but obviously two at least slipped through the fence).

Update Sept. 2014 from Carol Thornton, then Mrs. Crocket
"I remember Roger and Cathy Bohl, all his recollection are correct, (they were always the team to beat) and agree with mine, the 5 cars were given to Ed Crockett at the end of each season, and were sold mostly to the rally crew assigned to the car.
“Available” Jones, I remember bought his, I do not recollect who bought the others. Ed tried for several years to put together a new rally team, but the shortage of fuel and the times were against him.
The “Baja” rally which was filmed: The film was in our possession for a long time, during which time he tried unsuccessfully to sell it to a TV entity. It was a bone of contention in our family, since it cost some 50 or 60 thousand dollars to film and I called it the most expensive home movie ever made.
The film makers were some professionals and resided in Pennsylvania, I believe, I remember it had a music score which was really good. I believe the makers of the film utilized some of the scenes later, as I recall watching one particular segment on TV. It was of an unbelievably bumpy road, and the background music was that of a jug band. Steve McQueen participated in the Baja, and Henry Gibson as well as Cliff Robertson were somehow involved. I think that Roger and Kathy won that event.


Ed finally gave up trying to promote a sponsored rally program, went back to his Air Force roots, which were in law enforcement and took a position as police chief in Newnan Georgia for a couple of years, and then pursued private enterprises.
"

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One more rally team member speaks out:
ED:  Bruce, great that you want to share your memories as well. Tell us about your role in the team.


BG: Jack Chidester and I were the Class B team for both years and I bought the 1969 Mach I that we campaigned in and kept it for four years before trading it in for a Mazda MX-3 rotary wagon in Peoria, IL. 

Don’t know whatever became of it but wish I had it back.
Jack (now deceased) and I won the Class B championship for both years which were part of a sweep of the five years in which we competed (1968-1972). 
 I then moved on to Class A as both a driver and navigator and now have twenty-eight SCCA TSD National Championships and counting to my name as I continue to compete in SCCA rallies after a twenty-five year hiatus for raising a family. 
The only rallying I did during the hiatus was a 23 year stint as both navigator and occasional driver on The Great Race, the vintage car rally that ran coast to coast or country to country for two weeks each year in the summer. 
Mostly I competed with Curtis Graf as my driver in a 1916 Packard winning the Ottawa to Mexico City event in 1995.  We also contracted to represent the History Channel for four years in Jack Roush’s 1934 Ford as part of Roush Racing’s efforts during the turn of the millennium.  That’s a story in itself as well as being another affiliation with the Ford marque.

ED: Are you still racing these days?
I still compete about a dozen weekends a year throughout the U.S. and am quite active as a rallymaster in the Pittsburgh area.

More Q&A will be added soon.

Thank you Allan, Roger, Bruce and Carol for the inside stories.
   

E-Maill
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