SAAC 23—Charlotte Motor Speedway, 1998

Cobra Country’s custom masthead for various Shelby-American shows and track event feature articles

July 28, 1998: It’s been over two weeks since I returned from the “right” coast, from my trek to cover SAAC’s annual big bash. Customarily I manage to provide for you my show/track/race photographic/feature coverage up onto our Cobra Country within, say, 3 or 4 days of a given climactic event. Couldn’t cut it this time. Sigh. Those of you who’ve encountered me at recent track events have noticed that I’ve been been hobbling along with a significant limp. Defective left knee (meniscus terribilus, legus painus, meines Beinus schmerzus), you see. On Friday of the event and only a day after I landed in The Queen City (Charlotte, of Mecklenburg), I finally got a schedule for surgery… early on Saturday morning. Sigh. I arrived home in Los Angeles at 1:00am on Saturday, July 14, and at 7:30am I was on the operating table at Henry Mayo Hospital. You get my drift: putting this SAAC-23 coverage together necessarily got prioritized to back burner.

Most of this article consists of photos and brief captions (or no caption at all), since that’s the only way I’ll manage to put this (show coverage) challenge to rest ‘fore I collapse. That caveat aside, SAAC-23 was one heckuva blast, a tribute to Rick Kopec, Howard Pardee, Ken Eber and all the other standard-bearers in the club that choreographed it all. SAAC is top-notch–one of the finest motorcar-enthusiast clubs on the planet. And a special tip of the cowboy hat to (Shelby team driver) Bob Johnson and his wife Nancy, who always grace the annual Shelby bashes with their unfailingly cheerful presence, and to William Jeanes, Editor-in-Chief of Hachette Filipacchi’s Classic Automobile Register magazine, and an eminently entertaining guest speaker at the convention banquet. And to (Mustang Quarterly Editor) Bob McClurg, who’s been diligently covering things Ford- and Cobra- and Mustang-related since before the fall of Fort Sumter, even through challenges that would’ve daunted a lesser soul.

Below: a couple of GT350 Mustangs on the track, Saturday, 11 July. I have no Idea who is piloting that dazzling, black Hertz GT350, but the #16 white ‘R’ Model below is being capably steered by Chuck Gutke of Cobra Restorers, in Kennesaw, Georgia (USA); the car is owned by John McKenna of Elkridge, Maryland. Great driver, but they had to use lots of industrial-strength lubricant to shoehorn his (6′-6″) chassis (with racing helmet) into that Mustang. Chuck pushed it to about 162.mph (261.kph).

Above: Chuck Gutke of Cobra Restorers, Kennesaw, Georgia USA

Above: That’s David Radtke of House of Cobras (Orange, California).

Below: Alan Sorkey (Tyler, Texas USA) trailered-in his brand-new, dark green, all-aluminum CSX-4083 Shelby roadster, outfitted with this SOHC 427. Alan was recipient of the “Honey, I shrunk the air cleaner” trophy…

Below: yet another SOHC 427-equipped 427 roadster, this one the proud personal possession of Peter Portante of (Cobra replica manufacturer) E.R.A. in New Britain, Connecticut.



Two of the nicest attendees that we encountered… Janet & Bob Herron of Charlotte. Cool shades, Bob.

We visited Superformance dealers Bob & Dennis Olthoff in nearby Salisbury (North Carolina) right after the event. That’s Dennis in the blue shirt helping a customer into one of their 427 roadster replicas. As you can probably discern from this photo, bright yellow seems to be a priority color scheme at Superformance this summer…

Below: Saturday morning (11 July): track events begin.

Below: Lee Holman plowing his dazzling GT40 MkII through the curves…If you’ll recall, it was Holman & Moody who masterminded the MkIIs back in the ’60s, and today Lee has them back in production, recreated to perfection right down to the last
exquisite detail.

Below: A 427SC and a GT350 vie for position on the track.

Below: That’s venerable Bob McClurg capturing a Superformance snake on film.

Below: Now you ask yourself, “What’s a 1960 Ferrari Testarossa doing at a SAAC convention?” After all, wasn’t it CS himself who in 1964 roared “Next year Ferrari’s ass is mine”? Never mind the paradox: that’s Lee Holman of Holman & Moody, just mocking the convention’s conventions, so to speak….

Below: A genuine, certified show stopper, this, and recipient of the event’s 3rd Place trophy for Hertz cars. That’s an original black & gold Hertz GT350… with a matching trailer (with two decks: a hood deck and a trunk deck, all original eqpt!). This double-your-fun setup is the proud possession of father/son team Dan & Brad Maples of Pinehurst,
North Carolina.

Below: lineup of some of the Cobra replicas at Sunday’s concours. That’s Bill Connelly’s dazzling Daytona Coupe replica (by Upstate Super Replicars) in the foreground.

Below: the (sold-out) banquet, Friday night.

Above: William Jeanes, Editor-in-Chief, Classic Automobile Register magazine and guest speaker at the banquet, entertained the assemblage with a blend of automotive anecdotes and down-home humor.

Above: from left to right: (Shelby team driver and certified great guy) Bob Johnson, and SAAC’s Howard Pardee and Ken Eber (closest to camera). They all seem to be in great spirits, which means someone else must be in great pain…




LEFT: Colleen Kopec and, um, what’s ‘is name…





Right:  Bob Johnson addressing the gathering.


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Tip#2: If you type the words <feature articles> or <photo features> or <events coverage> into Sidewinder, you’ll get a scrolling roster of hotlinks to every one of CobraCountry’s photo-feature articles.

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