Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
April 20-21, 2012
Story & Photos by: Roger Rohrdanz
The Inaugural Ford Cobra Shelby Reunion was held April 20&21, 2012 at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum as a celebration of the titans of speed. More than a thousand spectators participated in the multi-day festivities which included five different venues, an awesome Show N Shine display, a racing legends panel discussion, a recreated vintage road racing course, a new Museum exhibit highlighting the early Shelby years, and a special banquet honoring the 50th Anniversary of one of automotive history's most iconic cars Carroll Shelby's Cobra.
The Reunion brought together an amazing group of former Shelby employees, racing legends, and Ford-Cobra-Shelby aficionados. From Mustangs to Cobras to GT-40’s, more than 150 cars in every color filled the Museum parking lot. It was a spectacular sight and hundreds of spectators enjoying the beautiful cars. There was one of three remaining King Cobras as well as celebrity guests such as Grand Marshal Parnelli Jones, Bob Bondurant, Pete Brock, Don Prudhomme and many others.
Marlen Motorsports put together a road course that incorporated the famous “bridge” for racing participants to use for hot laps on Friday and Saturday. A 35 car parade lap filled with celebrities brought back fond memories for those who raced here in the 50s and 60s. It was a treasured moment for participants and racing legends alike. After all, this was a rare opportunity to relive glory days on a long silent road course.
On Saturday a panel discussion including FCSR Grand Marshal Parnelli Jones along with Bob Bondurant, Pete Brock, Jerry Grant, Sherry MacDonald and John Morton—all of whom kept a sold out room of attentive listeners entertained with stories and adventures of racing and working with Carroll Shelby. The Reunion was made extra special when Parnelli Jones presented the Museum with his original 1973 Mustang Funny Car driven by Danny Ongais to be part of the Museum's permanent collection. Museum Curator Greg Sharp thanked Parnelli by saying that “receiving one of the most original and complete Funny Cars of a great era was a very special honor for the Museum.”
A new Museum exhibit, "Speed Merchants of Venice" honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Cobra was unveiled to a welcoming crowd. Ten unique Cobras are featured in the exhibit as well as never-before-seen photographs from Carroll Shelby's personal archive. El Cid (one of only five original factory Cobras built for drag racing) proudly stands at attention in the entrance of the exhibit. The exhibit will remain open for the public through December 2012.
Last but not least, a special banquet Saturday evening highlighted by more tall tales and true, closed out the Reunion with special Shelby-themed auction items raising funds for both the Museum and the Carroll Shelby Foundation.
The event activities were not advertised well, coordination between activities was poor, and transportation was much needed. If the popularity of this event is any indication, the Ford-Cobra-Shelby Reunion could be a huge annual event!
Thanks for the Show!