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NorCal SAAC 1997 Mini-Nationals

Willows, California 30 & 31 August, 1997
by Cole Reif

Above: the row (of dedicated race cars) on your right. That’s our yellow hooker (towtruck/lorry) down at the end; after all a polite guest always brings his own tow, just in case.

Saturday (August 30) was the carshow day of the NorCal SAAC Mini-Nats. We commandeered a parking lot in charming downtown Willows (California) for the carshow, which provided a marvelous hometown atmosphere. A great feature of the show was the caravan into town from the track… with a police escort! This may not sound to you like a big deal, but when did you last see a race-equipped GT40, a Daytona coupe, a 427SC Cobra or two dozen or so other race cars run through town with wide open headers? These drivers took seriously our challenge of “Drown out the Police-escort sirens.” Even at 35 mph in town and 55 mph on the highway they managed to do it!

Above: one of our… different…race cars.

This is a 1963 Lotus 19B that was originally piloted by Dan Gurney.

Above: a 1967 Shelby American Trans-Am Mustang which was regularly raced in the SF Bay area when it was new. The present owners, Walt Boeninger and Kerry Hochter, have just finished restoring this car and began campaigning it on the vintage circuit this year.



All of the participants, their families, friends, and pit crews came to the carshow, which made photographing the cars a bit challenging. What a crowd!


At right: Number 52 is a l964 USRRC Cobra owned and actively vintage-raced by Gordon Gimbel. This car is an extremely competitive small-block Cobra that gives up nothing to its big-block brethren.

NorCal Mini-Nationals Annual Shelby Cobra event, lineup of 427 Cobras


Above: Four of the most pristine replica Cobras that joined us for Mini-Nats.

This pair of Cobras is one of our club favorites. Bo Cheadle (Alamo, California) owns this original 427 SC Cobra, which won Best of Show-big block Cobras, as well as the Briggs and Stratton powered model that is generally in motion with one of the junior members of the club at the wheel.

NorCal Mini-Nationals Annual Shelby Cobra event, photo of Guardsman Blue Shelby Daytona Coupe

At left: a magnificent Daytona Cobra Coupe that Bo Cheadle brought to the show this year. Bo ran this car in our more advanced run groups at the track and put some wide grins on the lucky winners of “Hot Rides with Bo”!

NorCal Mini-Nationals Annual Shelby Cobra event, lineup of Shelbys (Shelby GT350 Mustangs)

Above: A high-powered lineup of Boss and ’68 & newer Shelby Mustangs.


These four ’65 & ’66 Shelbys shown are a mere sampling of the original and replica GT-350s that attended Mini-Nats 14.

Another lineup of fine replica Cobras present at 1997 Mini Nats. That dark blue #90 up front is Norcal’s Dan Fodge’s 427SC roadster replica.

That pretty much covers the carshow.

The photography and show coverage for this article was done by Cole Reif,
San Jose, California, email:, or


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