Jeff Lacina
November 1, 2007
Photos By: Mike Pakoskey, Ron Blevins

July 2007 marked the first-ever joint national convention between the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) and the Special Vehicle Team Owners Association (SVTOA) with an event held at the incredible Miller Motorsports Park, just 35 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. For the SVTOA, it was the first national meet since the big Ford Centennial in Detroit back in 2003, and only the third major gathering in the club's eight-year history.

As soon as you pulled into the paddock, you were met with displays from Ford Racing Performance Parts, Shelby Automobiles, and the Larry Miller Collection, which was made up of a dozen competition Cobras and GT40s. Some street GT350s and Cobras were also scattered about, with a replica of the Cobra Caravan trailer serving as a backdrop. Deeper into the Ford-blue paddock were scores of SVT Cobras, Cobra Rs, Foci, Lightnings, Ford GTs, Mustang GTs, and of course, plenty of vintage and late-model Shelby vehicles.

If you're into late-model Ford performance, you're fully aware of SVT and all the go-faster vehicles it has produced since 1993. The owners of these products enjoy getting together to cruise, show, and put these vehicles through their paces on the track. With this being a joint event between SAAC and SVTOA, though, it meant the paddock was also full of vintage and late-model Ford performance vehicles-pure nirvana for any loyal Ford fan. The Shelby Automobiles semi arrived and unloaded a new Mustang perfor-mance lineup for 2008: the Shelby GT convert-ible, the GT500KR, and the jaw-dropping Super Snake show car.

Ford SVT joined the fray with its development trailer and its trio of original Cobra Rs: the No.1 '93 car, the No. 1 '95 R, and the No. 2 '00 R model. Ford also trotted out a couple of note-worthy SVT engineering vehicles: a recently completed, track-going GT500, complete with rollbar, missing back seat, and a nice assortment of GT500 suspension components; and a well-worn, yellow-with-black Ford GT. This was the very car that carried out the high-speed certification testing for Ford and SVT at the world-famous high-speed testing facility at Nardo, Italy. Better yet, guests and participants could pony up a small fee and go for some hot lap rides with various SVT engineers at the wheel of either of these incredible rides.

Where else but at an SVTOA event can you see an SVT Lightning, a track-prepped Mustang GT, and a Ford GT all sharing the same turn? For four straight days, this is the type of on-track fun that SAAC-32 and SVTOA Experience III drivers enjoyed.

Tempering the July sun that pushed afternoon temperatures to near triple digits for the four-day performance festival was the ultracool Miller complex-truly a world-class facility. It's clear that this place was designed with drivers and spectators in mind. An expansive paved paddock, modern garages, covered grandstands, sparkling restrooms, an air-conditioned clubhouse, and a restaurant overlooking the track, along with the friendly and helpful Miller staff added to the fun for everyone.

Friday and Saturday centered on the SAAC 32 portion of the event, and Sunday and Monday were more focused on the SVTOA Experience III. Both SVTOA and SAAC members were seen in the paddock and out on the track all four days. There was also a swap-meet area and manu-facturers' and sponsors' midway, as well as a car show, a vintage race, an SVTOA cruise, parade laps, and even hot laps in either the Ford Racing-prepped Miller Motorsports Park school Mustangs or the SVT development vehicles.

Sunday and Monday was the SVTOA On Track Performance Driving Clinic, with 17 in-car instructors providing their coaching skills to the eager student drivers. Sunday, the event used the 2.24-mile East Course for on-track fun.

On Monday, the action shifted to the incredible, 4.5-mile, 24-turn "full course." This track proved a challenge for the novice students and an enjoyable exercise in fast course memorization for the more advanced drivers.