SAAC 35,California Style!
The Shelby American Automobile Club Took Its 35th National Convention To Northern California
We've long known the Shelby American Automobile Club to run a first rate annual convention, but the 2010 rendition, held at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, over the August 27-29 weekend, turned out to be about as good as it gets. With car shows, road racing, drag racing, and evening programming featuring legendary guests, there was certainly something for everyone.
Beyond the aforementioned, what made SAAC 35 truly special was the quantity of historically significant cars. While we'd agree that every Shelby American product is significant, we're speaking of the cream of the crop, which understandably weren't all Mustangs. Carroll Shelby would never have connected with the original pony car if it weren't for the Cobras that came before.
And speaking of Cobras, arguably the best of the best was on display. The late Larry Miller's family came through with several over-the-top cars from their collection, but the one we're alluding to is the Cobra Daytona Coupe that won the GT class at the 1964 24 Hours of LeMans. Just six of these Peter Brock penned beauties were constructed, and the Miller car is arguably the most significant. Talk about history!
Of course, Mustangs were in abundance as well, with some of the angriest racers to grace the planet present and accounted for. That's one of the best attributes of SAAC events-the commitment to continued enjoyment of these great cars at speed. This year included three days of road race/open track activities, along with an evening of drag racing on the world-class Infineon quarter-mile. Long-time drag racing devotee Randy Gillis was instrumental in the return of this activity to the SAAC curriculum, and our hat is off to him and club officials for recognizing and embracing this form of participatory fun.
While we're patting folks on the back, we'd like to include a big attaboy to the members of SAAC's NorCal Region, who put off their annual Mini-Nats event to support the national club when they came to the west coast. The end result was surely an event to remember.
GT350 Road TourThe day before SAAC 35's Friday kickoff, a group of purposefully early arrivers gathered for what you might call a pregame warm-up. Motivated by the presence of original GT350 project engineer Chuck Cantwell, his wife Carol, and the couple's recently purchased '66 GT350, first-gen GT350 owners organized a fun-filled road trip through the back roads of Northern California. We were fortunate to be along for the ride in the '65 Mustang GT convertible of area resident Brian Ferrin, who graciously plotted out our day and functioned as tour guide extraordinaire.
The group tallied an intimate seven '65-'66 GT350s, a wonderfully manageable number. Beyond the joy of being on the road with a pack of Shelby Mustangs, highlights of the day included driving through groves of Coast Redwoods, the scenic Pt. Reyes National Seashore, lunch at the historic Union Hotel in Occidental, and wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley. In all, it was surely one of the weekend highlights.