Austin C. Craig
July 25, 2011

It is always exciting to see the Shelby Mustangs, Cobras, and Ford GTs that ruled the racing world in the 1960s. Shelby American put the "performance" into Ford's Total Performance marketing strategy by dominating all of motorsports, with the Shelby American Cobra winning the 1965 World Manufacturer's championship on July 4, 1965, the only American company ever to win the championship. It could not have happened on a more fitting day.

Fortunately, many of the Shelby vehicles that made racing history are on display at the Shelby American Collection, located near Denver in Longmont, Colorado. Founded in 1996, the Collection showcases an extensive and constantly revolving collection of Shelby Mustang, Cobra, and Ford GT cars, along with historical records and memorabilia. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of Shelby American automobiles and the wonderfully unique and successful Shelby American team story.

Shelby American worked its magic on the Mustang with the GT350, which dominated the SCCA's B Production class by winning the national championship from 1965 through 1967. The original competition GT350, 5R002, that Ken Miles drove to victory on February 14, 1965, is one of the over 40 cars on exhibit at the Shelby American Collection, which is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The collection also includes many prototype and development parts, trophies, artwork, models, and other items of interest to Shelby American enthusiasts. I was impressed with the gift shop that offered the latest books on all things Shelby American, including Bob Bondurant's new biography.

Every December, Shelby American Collection founders Steve and Lisa Volk, Eddie O'Brien, and brothers Bill and David Murray host an annual Shelby Collection Christmas Party. As with most events, it's the people who make the occasion special. Shelby American drivers and key factory personnel are always invited and last year a host of them traveled to Boulder. Unfortunately, unlike previous years, Carroll Shelby was unable to attend but delighted everyone with a telephone greeting.

Last December, Bob Bondurant and his wife Pat were joined by fellow Cobra drivers Lew Spencer and his wife Carol, Allen Grant, and Jack Sears. The Mustang contingent was well represented by Walt Hane, the 1966 B Production national champion, and Tom Yeager, who campaigned the first competition GT350 sold to a customer. Shelby American GT350 Project Engineer Chuck Cantwell flew in from Pennsylvania. He was responsible for engineering the Shelby American Group II Mustangs and his talents contributed to the famed Terlingua Racing Team Mustang winning the Trans-Am championship in 1967.

The Murray brothers are "dyed in the wool" Shelby enthusiasts, having driven a pair of 289 Cobras from Colorado to Hersey, Pennsylvania, for the second annual Shelby American Automobile Club national convention in 1977. Bill, who has restored many of the cars in the Shelby Collection, hosted a tour and lunch at his facility on Saturday. Brother David runs the day-to-day activities at the Shelby Collection as well as putting in a lot of work preparing for the annual Christmas Party.

Sue Warne was also there. As the personal secretary for Shelby American Competition Administrator Al Dowd, Chief Engineer Phil Remington, and Competition Manager Ken Miles, she had plenty of interesting stories to tell.

One of the reasons the Shelby Collection is such an interesting place to visit is that there is a never ending rotation of cars, parts, and artwork the keep the exhibits fresh and interesting.

Carroll Shelby said it best when he described the Shelby American Collection: "This museum is a monument to the great accomplishments of the Shelby American team of the 1960s. There has never been such a comprehensive collection of significant Shelby race cars, memorabilia, and archives under one roof."

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