Jerry Heasley
March 16, 2017

After a few lackluster years, the Shelby Bash, held every year in Las Vegas where Shelby American builds new Shelby Mustangs, has really revved up again. This author has been to every Shelby Bash, which started in 2008 with a Carroll Shelby birthday party in January. Hundreds of people drove from the Petersen Museum that first year to join up with other enthusiasts in Vegas for a huge celebration of the Shelby brand. Carroll was there, of course, to blow out the candles on a big cake.

Carroll left us in 2012 and although interest waned for a few subsequent years, with many people wondering what would happen to their favorite car company after its founder and “soul of the company” had passed away. But 2017 saw a resurgence in excitement about the company and all things Shelby, due in no small part to the team of hardcore Shelby enthusiasts now running the company and instilling a sense of comfort and normalcy among all Shelby fans and followers. The old Carroll Shelby spirit is back in a big way!

As in 2008, entrants could register in Los Angeles, which they did on Wednesday, March 8th in Gardena, California (offices of Carroll Shelby International) to participate in activities. That Wednesday night was the Shelby Under the Stars kickoff party at the famous Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, which was a cocktail party and fundraiser for the Carroll Shelby Foundation, then the next morning, Thursday the 9th, the LA-based people drove 271 miles to Vegas to meet more enthusiasts registering at the Shelby-American Heritage Center.

And then the party really got going, including Friday and Saturday “open track” racing at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. Participants could also participate in “a la carte” off-track fun, including a Poker Run Friday, a Scavenger Hunt Saturday, a banquet at the Shelby Heritage Saturday night, and the giant car show on Sunday morning.

The biggest surprise of the event was the “Spirit of Competition” Friday evening barbecue held about 10 minutes south of the city at a private racetrack known as “Speed Vegas.” Henry Ford III, who oversees all of Ford performance, flew in and joined his father, Edsel Ford II. Edsel accepted the “2017 Carroll Shelby Spirit Award,” which presenter Aaron Shelby (grandson of Carroll) said “represents not only an entrepreneur’s spirit, but a passion of following your dreams.”

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Edsel Ford II ditched his prepared speech and spoke from “my heart,” which proved very entertaining. After previous speakers praised Carroll Shelby, Edsel had everybody laughing when he said, “There are lots of people tonight that talked about Carroll Shelby being a very humble man. He was not humble with me. I want to tell you that.”

Edsel talked about his relationship with Carroll that included a job at Shelby-American where he “Magnafluxed” parts in an “acid-based wash” all summer long.

Edsel II, who is on the Board Of Directors of Ford Motor Company, talked about keeping the legend of Carroll Shelby alive. He made the statement, “I am hopeful that for as long as I live there will always be a Ford Motor Company product with the Shelby name associated with it because I think that is so important. That’s one of the things I know that Carroll really wanted.”

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