A celebration of Shelby at Monterey

Historic Racing

The 2012 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion took place over the weekend of August 15-18, forming an important part of Classic Car Week on the peninsular.

Among the usual historic races one of the main attractions of the event was a celebration of Carroll Shelby. The  American racer was honoured at Monterey in 1997; now, after 50 years of his creations and following his death in May of this year, Shelby was the featured marque and his cars took to Laguna Seca in droves.

Two of Shelby’s cohorts were on hand to share their experiences as part of his organisation. These days Bob Bondurant may be best known as one of the men, along with Graham Hill, who, in the pouring rain at Spa in 1966 helped Jackie Stewart out of his crippled and oil-flooded BRM. However, in North America he was known for his work behind the wheel of Shelby’s cars, winning at Riverside in 1963 before heading to Le Mans and taking class victory with Dan Gurney in 1964. The next year he helped Shelby and Ford to the FIA GT Championship.

Peter Brock will go down in history as the man who designed the stunning Shelby Daytona coupé. Built to beat Ferrari, it did so in some style through 1964 and ’65. “We went to Daytona in 1964 and just smoked the Ferraris,” said Brock. “Unfortunately we had a fire in the pits and didn’t finish the race. The next race was the 12 Hours of Sebring, and we annihilated everybody there and won the race. We then took the car to Le Mans and set the lap record there and then the same thing at Spa, but the car still had some teething problems, because it was so new, but it was fast right out of the box.”

Lynn Park, know as ‘Mr. Cobra’ said, “I have been involved with Cobras since 1962 when I first met Carroll Shelby. What is amazing about Cobras is whenever a new sports car appears, such as a Viper or whatever, everyone always goes back 50 years to compare this new car to an early ’60s Cobra. The Cobra is the benchmark of performance, and it has been for all this time.”

Forty-five Cobras lined up in front of the thousands gathered, with Cobra owner Jim Click taking an emotional victory. “I knew Carroll Shelby,” said Click. “He did so much for racing and for Ford, so it is an honour for me to have won this race for Mr Shelby. This is the biggest win of my life.”

Aside from the Shelby celebration, there were typically strong fields for other categories at the Reunion. Saturday saw racing from pre-war cars to IMSA sports prototypes, Formula Atlantic and Trans-Am cars while the Sunday programme added Formula Junior, classic stock cars and plenty of action from Shelby’s ’60s contemporaries.

Photos courtesy of John Zimmermann

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