Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

Everything is perfect until you reach the back end where things start to get a bit off-putting. Sadly, the Lonestar (or Cobra III as it was initially called during design) was never put into production due to new smog and safety standards. Still, it’s an amazing car; part GT40, part Daytona, part Cobra, this thing is pure Shelby. Even more amazing is that it’s still around.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel CurveShelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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?

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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!”

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel CurveShelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

It was around here that we spotted Hank Williams and his original Shelby Cobra. No, not that Hank Williams. This Hank Williams is the last man standing to have purchased one of these cars brand new and never sold it; the only true one owner Cobra ever.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel CurveShelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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!

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

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.

At the end of the day the track got even hotter. There’s nothing quite like vintage racing and it was great to see these old Fords getting to stretch their legs. Be sure to check out all the extra photos of the action down below.

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

Shelby Automotive Convention, SAAC 43, Fuel Curve

And if next year’s national convention is at a track near you, make sure not to miss it!

Shelby Automotive Convention Photo Extra!

Trevor Ryan is a track day photographer from Northern California. He has experience in many different areas of photography but always comes back to automotive work in the end. To him, nothing is more rewarding than creating an amazing image of a car. Having purchased a ’66 Mustang almost six years ago, he had no choice but to end up immersed in car culture sooner or later. He also owns a ’99 Miata that he takes to the track. He has love for every part of car culture and besides track days often makes it to drift events, Cars and Coffee, tuner shows, and anything else he can find.

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