The Underwoods have a number...
The Underwoods have a number of original magnesium Americans from McComb's racing days, as evidenced by the stampings on the center flange. Teams would identify their wheels with such stampings so they wouldn't be lost when changing rubber at the tire trailers on race day. Other Underwood wheels indicate they were originally run by the Mercury Cougar team.
Despite big magnesium wheels and a hunkered-down stance, the shape gracing these pages simply doesn't scream "race car." Competition-bred Mustangs ought to have a sloping rear backlight and some kind of macho moniker such as Boss, Mach 1, or GT350, right? Wrong! Try this one on for size-'67 Mustang Group II. Even reasonably well versed enthusiasts may scratch their heads at that one, but indeed, these racing coupes were assembled by Shelby American in both 1966 and 1967 to field a variety of competitive entries in accordance with Sports Car Club of America racing rules.
In the SCCA's view, GT350s were two-seat sports cars, despite the fact that such a configuration only held true in their inaugural year of 1965. No matter, the GT350 was limited to the SCCA's B-Production class along with other two-seaters such as Corvette and Cobra, and couldn't compete in the sanctioning body's new sedan-based road-race series, namely A-Sedan and Trans-Am. In the throes of its Total Performance era, Ford wanted representations on all fronts, and looked to Shelby for something to fill the bill-the decision being the humble Mustang hardtop.
A Handful Built
A successful run of 20 '66 Group II hardtops (including four built for international rallying, and known as Group I cars), were followed in 1967 by 26 more. The Group II nomenclature was a reflection of the FIA regulations that governed such vehicles. Car No. 33 was the 10th of the '67s, handbuilt in the Shelby American Competition Department by the likes of Jerry Schwarz, Bernie Kretzschmar, and Bobby Boxx-just as the competition '65 GT350s (R-models) had been. In fact, many of the R-model tricks and hardware were parlayed onto the full competition Group II cars, some key differences being the rules mandate for stock sheetmetal, glass, and full interiors.
For all of its unassuming presence, this particular car will go down in history as one of the most competitive and most raced Mustangs of all time. It was originally purchased by John McComb of Hutchinson, Kansas. He explained to Modified Mustangs and Fords that after cutting his competitive teeth on MGBs, he was approached in 1966 to drive a Group II Mustang for a privateer racer. All it took was a single race for McComb to become hooked on the combination and after the car owner flaked out, McComb purchased his own '66 Group II and teamed up with Brad Booker to win the sixth race of the '66 Trans Am season-the Pan-American 6-Hour at Green Valley, Texas.
When the '67s debuted, McComb purchased the new model, and proceeded to race extensively for the next dozen years. An impressive record of wins and accomplishments followed, including SCCA Midwest Division A-sedan championships in 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, and 1972, as well as 16 Trans-Am appearances over the same time frame. Also in 1967, McComb won the National A-sedan title at the SCCA runoffs, and due to this success, was invited in 1968 to participate in NASCAR's new BabyGrand series. The only such race McComb participated in was the '68 Paul Revere 250, where he finished Second to Lloyd Ruby in a Bud Moore Mercury Cougar. Further appearances on a national stage occurred at the 12 hours of Sebring, 24 hours of Daytona, and more.
McComb gave his '67 a break in the early to mid-'70s, racing newer cars such as BRE Datsuns and Group 44 Triumphs-even winning the D-Production National Championship in a TR6 in 1975. In 1977, McComb returned to the Mustang, and with longtime mech-anic Terry Doty as chief wrench, updated the car to GT-1 class specs and proceeded to win that Midwest Division from 1977 to 1980.