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Shelby Crashes! And He Walked Away
Shelby American was based in Venice, California, in the ’60s, and the closest racetrack to the business was Riverside Raceway, about 80 miles east of Venice on the way to Palm Springs. So naturally they did a lot of testing there while developing the legendary Cobras, GT40s, and G.T. 350 Mustang race cars, in addition to high-level races that happened at the track. NASCAR Winston Cup and all sorts of SCCA, USAC, and IMSA races were held at Riverside through the years, and yes, even the NHRA held a Hot Rod-sponsored national event on the backstretch at Riverside. Our buddy Dave Wallace, Jr., found these shots from the 1966 SCCA Road Race of Champions at Riverside, but had no information on them. So we reached out to Austin Craig for the scoop. Austin was a longtime employee at J. Walter Thompson in charge of Ford’s marketing and advertising, but he was also nuts about all things Shelby (and even works at Shelby today). He gave us the identification on these photos.
“The 1965 competition G.T. 350 5R099 driven by Dan Gerber crashed during the A and B Production races,” Austin says. “Gerber recovered, and then retired from racing. The G.T. 350 was a total loss.”
Riverside was one of the only tracks that ran clockwise, and this appears to be on the front stretch that ran northbound. Sadly, the track was bulldozed in 1990 and is now a shopping mall.