Keith Keplinger
January 1, 2009

The thundering sound of Ford and Shelby performance rang throughout Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June during the 34th annual Mid America Ford and Team Shelby Nationals (

Over 1,300 Fords, Shelbys, Cobras, and more came from 34 states and Canada to enjoy great weather and hometown hospitality with three days of Road Racing, one day of drag racing, a spectacular car show, special meet-and-greets with famous Ford and Shelby drivers, and more.

On Debbie Beal's '05 V-6 with blacked-out Shaker hood and Boss stripe, the tag reads "140 gone"-not for mph, but pounds lost. Her husband gave her the car as a present when she lost weight. She bracket races with a best e.t. of 15.9 with the stock V-6.

The road-racing crowd was in full attendance at the Hallett Motor Racing circuit's 1.8-mile, 10-turn course. Each of the three days saw the track full of vintage and late-model Mustangs carving corners and blasting the straights, as well as ride-alongs in some of Team Shelby's newest creations.

The new '08 V-6 Terlingua Shelby Mustang was a crowd favorite with its balanced horsepower and handling. R&A Motorsports unveiled a perfect replica of Jerry Titus' '67 Mustang, and it performed exceptionally on its first weekend out on the track. Classic Design Concepts, MRT Direct, Late Model Restoration, and JBA Racing all had fabulous cars out on the track, as well as displays in the paddock. Kicker Audio provided the perfect background music to the shrieking sound of small-block fords wailing around the track.

Root beer and root beer! A root beer-hued Cobra cruises in front of Weber's Root Beer, home to the original hamburger.

Thursday night was the annual Bob Hurley Ford downtown cruise to the drive-in burger and dog district in the older, downtown area of Tulsa. The police blocked off the way, allowing 775 cars to make the processional unabated. Over a mile of diagonally parked, show-quality Fords made for quite a sight. Neon lights, burgers, and root beers all helped to turn the clock back to the '60s.

Saturday was the United Ford Shelby Performance Parts Day for those wanting to see how their Mustang and performance Ford stacked up against the 1,320. Over 375 Fords had trips down the Tulsa Raceway Park quarter-mile, from V-6 Mustang drivers to the world's fastest Edsel, there was something for everyone. The new Shelby Super Snake in street trim turned consistent 11.40s at 133 mph. Even a special FE Challenge was held, and the sound of those vintage big-blocks was a treat to the ears.

The owners and enthusiasts enjoyed a cool Thursday night in old downtown Tulsa, and 775 Fords made up over a mile of parked performance.

Team Shelby members got a rare treat Saturday afternoon in the form of a meet and greet with Carroll Shelby. Jim Owens and Amy Boylan also addressed the crowd, giving insights into future Shelby projects. There were several autograph sessions during the weekend, all featuring Carroll Shelby, Shelby's friend and noted automotive artist Bill Neale, and original Shelby drivers Tom Yeager and Allen Grant. All proceeds from the autograph sessions went to the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation to help children in need of transplants.

The banquet Saturday evening was a festive party with delicious eats, a vigorous auction, anecdotal speeches, and one of the largest raffle/giveaways ever. Many local officials presented Shelby with honors, including naming Sunday as official Carroll Shelby Day in Tulsa and the entire state of Oklahoma. The Texas legislature presented Carroll with "the original horsepower induction device," a set of gold and silver spurs.

Carroll Shelby toured the car show in a special Shelby golf cart.

Sunday dawned with a beautiful, blue sky and crisp temperatures-the perfect day for a car show, and what a show it was. Over 900 cars were polished and took their places in the sunshine to wait on the judges. Performance Fords of all vintages were represented, ranging from the newest Shelby Super Snake to a rare '66 Galaxie 427. The '08 Boss Nationals were held in conjunction with the Mid America Show and the sight of rows of Boss 302s and 429s under a tree-lined avenue was priceless.

Mark your calendar now and be sure to make plans to attend the 35th annual event in 2009.

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Rick Bilby still grills up original burgers and homemade root beer at Weber's Root, at the corner of Peoria and 38th, a fixture in downtown Tulsa since 1933.

On July 4, 1891, Oscar Weber and Fanny Mae Bilby held a barbeque. Over 100 locals turned out for the festivities, overwhelming the couple. To stretch their supply of homegrown Angus beef, Oscar (known as Uncle Web) ground the beef, shaping it into patties, Fanny Mae made up a batch of big, buttered yeast buns to sandwich the patties, and a legend was born. Rick Bilby, Oscar's great-grandson, still makes burgers the same way, and on the original cooking grill, at Weber's Root Beer. When in Tulsa, stop by and have a double and a root beer freeze--you won't be disappointed!