Jerry Heasley
March 19, 2018

The Shelby Bash is all about having fun, in the spirit of Carroll Shelby, which at times borders on the mischievous. This seems to be the theme of each Shelby Bash, now in its 11th year, the first dating to 2008 and Carroll Shelby’s 85th Birthday Bash (hence the origin of the name).

An attitude of lightheartedness pervades each Bash. A Poker Run (Friday) and a Scavenger Hunt (Saturday) offer seemingly innocuous street driving that leads to adventurous activities at various stops along the way, and provide an alternative to Friday and Saturday open track racing.

Day one of the 2018 Shelby Bash kicked off on Thursday, March 8, 2018 with registration at Shelby-American’s facilities in Las Vegas followed by a get-together at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country a few blocks away in the Town Square Mall on Las Vegas Blvd South.

A security guard watched over Shelby vehicles as the crowd of people walked into Stoney’s for food and drink and country western music. Shelby’s three grandsons were there—Aaron, Randall, and Shawn having fun and mixing with the group of enthusiasts gathered. Friday night the three showed excerpts of a new Carroll Shelby documentary that the Shelby family is putting together.

Poker Run participants departed about 8:00 AM Friday morning from the host “Silverton Hotel & Casino, describing itself as a “rustic, modern lodge” located off the Las Vegas strip next to a Bass Pro shop on the south end of the city, a mile or two from Shelby-American. From the top floor of the parking garage (open air and reserved exclusively for Shelby), participants motored Blue Diamond Highway, otherwise known as highway 160, to the Mountain Springs Saloon, advertised as “cooler” at 4,500 feet elevation at the summit of the Spring Mountains. There, everybody retrieved their poker chips and snapped pictures. Next stop was the Area 51 Alien Travel Center in Armargosa Valley on Highway 95. Lunch was held at the Mt. Charleston Lodge, which is above the snow line.

“You would not think snow in Las Vegas,” one person said, but it was visible on the mountain tops, even though nobody had to walk through the white stuff.

The Poker Run concluded with a brief stop at the Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Monument, five minutes down the hill from the Lodge, leading to a unique event that has been gaining strength since its inception three years ago—Snakes on the Strip.

What is this? In 2016, Dave Goldberg got together with friends at The Shelby Bash and set up Shelby Mustangs to motor together down the famous Las Vegas strip. They took photos of about 10-20 cars together and the size doubled last year. For 2018, exactly 80 Shelby cars showed up and Tracey Smith, director of Team Shelby, got cooperation from the city of Las Vegas to provide a police escort.

Gary Patterson and Vince LaViolette Sumo wrestle in front of the Friday night crowd.
Tracey Smith is the director of Team Shelby.
Team Shelby member “Wild Bill” Evans auctioned off Shelby memorabilia for charity on Friday night, including this autographed Carroll Shelby hat that brought $6,500.

Everybody gathered Friday night for a buffet dinner at the Silverton in a large room where Scott Black of Timepiece PR moderated. Black wore a tie, a little too stuffy for this atmosphere, Tracey Smith thought, so she invited Team Shelby member Alex Mackenzie on stage and to everyone’s surprise Alex cut off Black’s tie with a large pair of scissors. Another surprise was Sumo wrestling that evening, but not real Sumo wrestling. Gary Patterson and Vince LaViolette, President of VP of Shelby-American, got into huge, air blown costumes and “wrestled” one another to the mat in a best of three contest. Shelli Marti (wife of Kevin Marti of The Marti Report) brought down the house singing Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” in Karaoke, but nobody else was brassy enough to grab the microphone and sing. One of the event sponsors, Nathan Sheets, a Risk Advisor at BridgePoint Risk Management, (insurance for many of the Shelby owners) performed a magic act onstage.

Team Shelby regional directors marched onstage for introductions Friday night.

The King of the Road Scavenger Hunt began early Saturday morning with a stop at a candy maker. Entrants divided into two groups, one called Jackpot Snakes, the other dubbed Snake Charmers. These two groups would compete with one another, beginning with tossing candy into a Stetson hat. The groups rode a train to Boulder City while they ate lunch, visited a pinball museum where they played pinball, and then Las Vegas Motor Speedway where they had a tricycle race and drove their Shelby Mustangs a few laps around the big oval.

Club racing at the track on Friday and Saturday took place at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, located 50 miles west of Las Vegas on Route 160. Drivers divided into three groups by skill level. Michael McGuirk presided over the daily 8:00 AM driver’s meetings, where he explained track rules.

Gary Patterson and Vince LaViolette gave rides in new Shelbys, while Rick Titus, son of legendary Shelby Team Driver Jerry Titus, gave rides in the “new” 1965 Shelby G.T. 350 R model, now being produced in California, and a part of Shelby-American. We met Shelby enthusiasts from many different states, plus foreign countries including Norway and Holland.

The banquet Saturday night took place in the museum section, after moving out the cars, with more than 400 people served meals and enjoying the comedy of Adam Ferrara, co-host of the U.S. version of Top Gear among numerous acting credits.

For the annual banquet, Shelby-American removes their display cars in the Heritage Center. The room was packed with over 400 people.

The surprise of the 2018 Bash came on Sunday afternoon of the car show, right before awards were handed out when Gary Patterson called everyone to the front of the Shelby Heritage Center to view a stunning 2016 Shelby Super Snake, yellow with white stripes owned by Vincent Fragoso. Patterson called Vincent’s nephew, Frank Brieno, to the front of the crowd, and said, “I think Vince has something for you. I think he’s got a set of car keys for you, buddy. How ‘bout that?”

The crowd screamed and clapped and yelled encouragement to the young man, including “welcome to the Shelby family!!”

Frank was speechless when his uncle said, “I hope you enjoy it, and it brings you a lot of good times. Now, on all the Shelby runs, you can be driving your own car.”

Saturday night’s banquet was a wild affair, with Team Shelby members singing and marching up and down the room.
Adam Ferrara slanted his comedy to cars at the Saturday night banquet.
Aaron Shelby, Carroll’s grandson, spoke to the crowd Saturday night.

Vincent Fragosa has other Shelby Mustangs and plans to buy a 2018 and a 2019 model.

We described last year’s 2017 Shelby Bash as a being “revved up” from previous years, and this enthusiasm carried over into 2018 with more excitement in terms of people and activities. Patterson even debuted Shelby’s 3500 series Ford diesel pickup in its Shelby 1000 series form, and then proceeded to do a burnout in the truck while towing a Super Snake doing a burnout on the trailer. The crowd screamed and applauded amidst the smoke.

Photography by Jerry Heasley, Shannon Moore, Tom Raber, Tim Reeve, and Donald Farr

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