VARA 50th Anniversary at Willow Springs

50th Anniversary/VARA Bash
Rosamond, California

Saturday, 22 November 2003

above: that’s Cobra racing icon Dick Smith with his fiancée Heather (chapel date is scheduled for Thursday, April 1, 2004), of Fresno, California, in his famed #198 427 Cobra roadster, CSX3035, after lapping Willow Spring’s road course on Saturday. You’re probably already aware that his “#198” trademark livery represents his top speed (198 mph), clocked and eternally etched into Cobra racing history… as the highest speed ever officially recorded for a Cobra roadster…in 1967 at Daytona International Speedway.

Dick was Guest of Honor at this Vintage Automobile Racing Association gala event at Willow Springs, and on Sunday he drove #198 as the pace car for VARA’s Ford/Chevy Challenge event.

above: that’s Dick Smith alongside his #198.

left: #198’s cockpit, replete with racing-history dashboard plaque… and, yes, padding on the dashboard.

right: This is the same 427 powerplant that committed Hara-Kiri at Laguna Seca back in August; Dick was able to patch ‘er up again.

above: that’s Hank Williams (Los Angeles)  with his acclaimed “World’s Winningest 289 show Cobra.” Hank’s the original owner… purchased his Cobra (CSX 2227) in 1964.

Great guy: Hank’s probably the most dedicated attendee of Shelby-related and vintage-racing-related events on the entire planet; over the years you’ve seen him featured (or at least mentioned) in literally dozens of my Cobra-event articles. Inclement weather, seismic jolts, wildfires or Santa Ana winds, Hank’s always there.

There’s an anecdote lurking in that photo-opp: over at the left you can see:

Dick Smith’s “Race-winningest 427 Cobra of all time,” CSX 3035,

alongside Hank’s “Trophy-winningest 289 Cobra of all time,” CSX 2227.

above: a CSX 4000 rolling in after a trip around the road course.

above: we’re not sure, but we’re fairly certain that this is the Daytona Coupe reproduction that New Zealander John Ohlsen was working on completing when he passed away in July, 1998.

above: that’s Bob Lowthorp’s (Bishop, California) Dave Dralle-prepared
white/gold 1966 Hertz GT350 ‘Rent-A-Racer’

Dralle Engineering is right there on premises at Willow Springs International Raceway, only perhaps 125 yards from the road course’s hot pit lane.

above: XKs Unlimited was there with these two continuation Cobras, the red 289FIA in the foreground,  and a Midnight Blue 427SC in the background.

above: a gorgeous 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible
a shot of that equally resplendent 1955 blue T-bird in the background.

above: Bill Kelley’s 1963-1/2 Ford Galaxie 500.

Here’s a special CobraCountry road course roadmap just for you:
Willow Springs’ 2.5-mile road track laid out in detail!

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