Sonoma Thunder – Shelby Automotive Convention Comes to Town
Last month at Sonoma Raceway, the Shelby Automotive Convention was held bringing hundreds of Shelby American Automobile Club members out for their annual national gathering.
Far from their first time to a racetrack, the club was celebrating their 43rd summer gathering with a hot track, guest speakers like Peter Brock, a car show, swap meet, and a concours event.
The Shelby Automotive Convention #43 certainly had something for everyone and it was an event we had circled on the calendar as a “can’t miss” affair. It wasn’t just for old school Shelby guys either, and there were plenty of Fords from all decades sprawling across Sonoma’s paddock and overflowing from the garages.
Starting here in the garages we found a little bit of it all, from this stunning GT500 to a rare concept car in the back corner.
And when we say rare, we mean it. This is the only Shelby Lonestar ever built, a road-going experimental car meant to replace the Shelby Cobra and sell to the average Joe. That is, if Joe had deep pockets. It’s exotic, it’s sleek, it’s powerful, and it makes the right noises.
Further along was a lime green California Special. The fact that this car was so unsuccessful commercially means it’s rare, and desirable, today. That didn’t stop the owner of this less than perfect example from enjoying his car on the track. That is sort of the point, after all, and it can always be restored down the road.
Under cover in the garages it was great to see some a younger guys taking interest in these old muscle cars We found a couple of older guys getting involved too; it isn’t really a day at the track without a nap is it?
Out in the paddock we found a handful of judges hard at work underneath a GT350. When we asked the owner, who was also halfway under the car, how things were going he said “they’re telling me how everything I did was wrong!”
While it might all look original to the ordinary eye, these guys go deep. Really, really deep. It’s all about the details; what finish was on a certain part when the car was shipped out in a certain month of the year, that the paint isn’t too glossy (a bit of orange peel was a factory thing, after all), and so on. You could easily dedicate your entire life to the hobby and there definitely are guys who do.
Then there was the show itself. Focusing on the track and the garages most of the day, things had quieted down and a few of the cars had faded away. That didn’t mean that there weren’t a handful of interesting Fords sitting around, though.
We couldn’t figure out how much horsepower this surfboard had, but it sure did look good sitting on top a matching Mustang. We also spotted this garage-built Daytona replica that deserved a closer look. We just ran a full feature on Russ’ stunning replica so give it a look!
The track action was our favorite part of the day. Open all day for hot laps, there was a brief pause for some parade laps where everyone got the chance to make it around Sonoma Raceway’s legendary road course.
And if next year’s national convention is at a track near you, make sure not to miss it!