Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 10, 2011

Times are tough all over. And as you might imagine, our favorite car clubs are feeling the pinch too. But, as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and that's exactly what three national Mustang/Ford clubs did over the Memorial Day weekend. Instead of taking it on the chin, the Shelby American Automobile Club, SVT Cobra Mustang Club, and SVT Owners Association teamed up to roll the annual SAAC convention, now up to SAAC-36, and the SVT Superfest into one humongous event at Virginia International Raceway.

It makes perfect sense. All three clubs feature open track activities. Shelby Mustangs and the vehicles from Ford SVT, including Mustang Cobras, are enthusiast favorites. Heck, the '07-'11 Shelby GT500s from SVT fit into all three clubs. And when splitting the cost of track rental, insurance, and all the other expenses for a national event, even the club treasurers smile.

Over the May 27-29 holiday weekend, the three clubs invaded VIR, one of the most beautiful race tracks in the country located just outside Danville, Virginia. The event centered around the open track, with vintage Shelbys, new Shelbys, and semi-vintage Mustang Cobras taking on VIR's hilly, 4.2-mile, 27-turn "Grand Course" in Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner groups. I caught a ride with Shelby American's "VP of Fun" Gary Patterson in a supercharged '11 Shelby GT350, although he didn't warn me that we were heading out for a half-hour session with the Advanced group until I was strapped in with my helmet on. If you can imagine riding a roller coaster for 30 straight minutes, you get some idea of the sensation. Thankfully, my ride was before lunch.

There were also car shows on Friday and Saturday, including the prestigious SAAC concours for a select group of cars, which were crawled over, under, and through by the world's top Shelby and Mustang concours judges. A paved paddock area was reserved for the popular vote show, although you could view nice Shelbys, Cobras, and other Fords parked all around the VIR grounds.

While SAAC and SVT joined forces by day, they held separate social events by night. Both groups staged their own meet and greet on Friday night and banquets on Saturday evening. SAAC featured Q&A sessions with former Shelby American employees Lew Spencer and Tom Yeager, followed by guest speaker Peter Brock, who assembled his latest projectùan aluminum 350 cubic-inch modular short-block that he hauled to the stage in a duffle bag.

As an observer, the partnership between SAAC and the SVT clubs for SAAC-36 and the SVT Superfest provided more of what everyone came forùShelbys, SVT Cobras, and high-performance Fords. Even when the economy improves, this type of club alliance might prove to be a winning formula for all.

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