COCOA event 1999 at Willow Springs

Cobra Owners Club of America masthead for COCOA feature-coverage articles

55th semi-annual Willow Springs event

Willow Springs Int’l Raceway complex, Rosamond, California
[±82 miles/132 km due north of Los Angeles]
Saturday & Sunday, 30 & 31 October, 1999
by Curt Scott

COCOA Tackshot

above: Looking northwest in splendid (±75°F / 23°C) California weather from the paddock toward turns 3, 4 and 5, the highest-elevation segment of the track. I superimposed the turn numbers onto the photo above so you can correlate the photo to the track layout(s) below. The large green & white building to the left of Turn 4 is “The Budweiser Balcony.” The terrain at the top right is the southwestern slope of “Maniac Mountain.” Don’t ask.

Most of this article consists of photos and brief captions. Lynn Park and Tom McIntyre and their COCOA (Cobra Owners Club of America) schedule and choreograph this track event twice each year… in May and October, for club-member owners of original and reproduction Shelby Cobras and Daytona Coupes, Shelby GT350 and GT500 Mustangs, GT40s, Panteras, Sunbeam Alpines… actually, anything that passes tech inspection that’s Ford-powered and runs on road rubber. It’s a non-competitive event, and all classes… novice to professional driver… are welcomed to participate. The emphasis is on safety and fun. Instructors are available to help you advance your driving skills.

In case you’re not acquainted with the twists and turns and dips and climbs of this, North America’s oldest road course raceway, below is a reproduction of the 2.5-mile (4 Km) layout. I edited it somewhat to render the critical captions larger and more easily legible on your screen. Generally speaking, the higher elevation portion of the track runs from turn 2b to turn 6; the 1/2-mile straightaway pretty much constitutes the lower elevation. As you might well imagine, the track’s marvelous challenges define Willow Springs as the favorite road course of many drivers… and the roster of drivers includes such legends as James Dean, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Carroll Shelby… indeed, it was Shelby-American’s test track back in the ’60s.

COCOA Tracklayout

above: Willow Springs 2.5 mile (4 Km) road course

Lynn Park

COCOA‘s semi-annual track events at Willow Springs is the place you want to be if you want to see every variety of Shelby legend up close.



at left: COCOA’s / Lynn Park in his trademark “Smokey the Bear” campaign hat, discussing the track schedule with a COCOA club member.


below: two of Lynn’s original 427 Cobras: the red roadster in front is CSX-3156; beside it (with the original hard top) is his CSX-3203. The green 289 roadster in the rear belongs to Steve Schuler.

Lynn Parks Red Cobras
Gary Durrett

above: Gary “bugs in his teeth” Durrett of Glendale, California, with his House of Cobras / Superformance Cobra; if he appears a little windswept, it’s because he’d just completed a high-speed jaunt around the circuit. Gary’s a certified Cobra enthusiast through and through.

B Kincheloe

at left: That’s Billy Kincheloe’s (Sherman Oaks, California) 289 roadster number CSX2446. Notice that this “slabside’s” fenders have been flared to provide for more road rubber.

Some of you may remember Billy’s dad (Billy Kincheloe Sr.) who was on the “D-Production World Championship” team back in 1959 or ’60, piloting an Austin Healey 3000.


at right: In the paddock area: you should recognize Bob Shaw’s (Operations Plus) well-known Unique Motorcars 289FIA. Bob shows up at just about every event where he can take advantage of any opportunity to scare himself.

B Shaw
Daycoupe Jay Russell

at left: That’s Jay Russell’s Daytona Coupe, still not quite complete; you may remember it from my coverage of LA SAAC’s 1999 show (8 October) in Woodley Park. Replete with a CSX serial number since it was built on an original 289 roadster chassis, it was the last Daytona Coupe built by John Ohlsen… and the first since 1965. John died suddenly of a heart attack in New Zealand in July, 1998.

Line Up of Cobras

above: another shot that encompasses original 289s, red 427s (both Lynn Park’s), and a 1966 red GT350.

Maeco GT 350 Line Up

above: part of the lineup of Maeco’s lineup of GT350s, all fully decked out for serious (and regular) racing. Below: the no-nonsense / no concours cockpit of a couple of these Maeco Mustangs.

Maeco GT350's
Unique T Brooks

at left: That’s Tom Brooks of Cathedral City, California, in his splendid Unique Motorcars 289FIA. I’ve photographed Tom and his FIA before at Knott’s Berry Farm; in fact, it’s featured on page 53 of the current (3rd Ed) “Complete Guide to Cobra Replicas.”

Hertz Mustang Empor

above: I just can’t resist photographing these gorgeous 1966 Hertz GT350s. This beauty is the proud possession of Cheri and Kevin Snyder of Palm Desert, California.

Mixed Lineup

above: a mixed bag of original Shelby hardware: from right to left, a 1966 GT350, a blue GT40 Mk1 reproduction, a blue 427SC, a 1969 GT500/428 CobraJet-equipped Mustang, original owner (although, sigh, I failed to get his name).

Starting Line

above: at the starting line. That’s a Factory Five Cobra in the foreground, flanked by a pair of Mustang Emporium’s white GT350 Mustangs (a ’66 in front, a ’65 approaching in the rear) and followed by a black Pantera.

Cars on Track

above: a collage of some of my “at speed” track shots; I took these as the cars were barreling down the straightaway, just about to enter Turn 1. If you think the black & white machine following the pack bears a striking resemblance to a police patrol car, you’re right on track; it’s a 5.0L Mustang retired from the La Habra, California Police Department, resurrected as a fun machine instead of a fun spoiler.

Lynn Park and Tom McIntyre and COCOA deserve a lot of appreciation and credit for the considerable effort and expense of setting up and orchestrating this increasingly-popular track event, not only every year, but TWICE a year. And special thanks to Bob Shaw, a de facto repository of technical expertise and Shelby-American historical details, which helps me to keep my facts straight. Similarly, the staff of Willow Springs International Raceway deserves special mention for their extraordinary event management and their unfailing helpfulness and the ‘Kern County courtesy’ they extend to everyone involved, drivers and spectators and journalists alike.

Curt Scott’s standard CobraCountry signature


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