Saturday at Pomona: Speed Merchants of Venice
The NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Museum in Pomona will host a 50th Anniversary gathering of Shelby (or AC, if you insist on the Brit nomenclature) Cobras, Saturday April 21, 2012. It owes the “Venice” reference to the fact that the original Shelby shops were in Venice, California.
In my blog https://carmacarcounselor.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/cobra-anniversary-i-luck-favors-the-prepared/ I showed a slew of Cobras in various stages of preparation for the year’s events, and many of them will be on hand.
Shelby Cobra registration number CSX2003, the third Cobra built, in preparation for the 50th Anniversary celebrations for the marque. This car was used by the Shelby School of High Performance Driving, which explains the “T” rather than a racing number. The Press Release says it will be at Pomona for the reunion. I trust the restoration will be finished.
If you believe the press release, you will have a chance to see some pretty historic Cobras at the event. They say there will be the first production Cobra, CSX2001, and two of the rare “King Cobras.”
One car I can personally confirm will be there is CSX2006, made famous by Tom Cotter in his 2007 Road & Track article, “The Watermelon Man and the Cobra.” This car was bought new by jazz great Herbie Hancock in 1963 when he was feeling flush from the royalty check he’d just gotten for the song “Watermelon man.” It’s the oldest production Cobra still in the original owner’s hands.
I had seen the car in 2003. I was checking out a shop in preparation for buying my first BMW, and there was a Shelby GT-350 there that belongs to one of the owners. I have some second-hand GT-350 stories by way of my brother, and that got us talking about Shelbys. It happened that the annual Shelby Club Christmas Party was the following Saturday, and they generously invited me to attend.
During that event, they showed me a dusty white Cobra hidden out of sight in the back of a shed. I knew it was an old car from the odd hood badge, which did not feature the familiar snake image, but I had no clue about its significance at the time.
A Christmas Party Invitation led me to be given access to a very old Cobra hidden in a corner of a shed. That was in December of 2003. I knew nothing else about it at the time.
Early Cobras had a different badge from the familiar snake-themed design of later cars (Inset)
It was not until seven years later that I thought about that 2007 R&T piece and made the connection. I’d have written about it then, but the people at the shop requested that I not reveal the location. I understood, knowing that could lead to a crowd of the curious, self-styled experts, and speculators, innundating the shop and making life miserable for them. They asked that I not publish pictures, either.
I will be revealing nothing now though, since the car will be displayed to the public, far away where nothing will connect it to its normal place of residence.
CSX2006 nine years later. All spruced up for the show, and looking none the worse for its enforced solitude.
Tom Cotter’s article mentioned Herbie was initially afraid to drive the car, it was so fast. But after his roommate Jazz Trumpeter Donald Byrd’s fender bender in it, Herbie’s anxiety abated, and from then on he drove it extensively. That accident now shows up as some cracking in the paint over the right front wheel arch.
The reunion show is included in the Museum entrance fee of $8.00 for adults. Information at http://museum.nhra.com/index.asp
Anyone who’s intrested in the glory days of sports-racing cars owes it to him/herself to attend. Weather is forecast to be glorious.