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Shelby Cobra, Mustang fans converge in Fontana

July 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Just the name of the late car racer turned car designer Carroll Shelby conjures up images of high-performance Cobras and Mustangs. You can see some of these designs up close in Fontana. These "suped-up" Shelbys are more than museum pieces.

It's a long weekend for an all-American holiday. And in Fontana, an all-American racing success story is being celebrated. The high-performance machines of Carroll Shelby get to put on some moves.

"What we try and do is give people an opportunity to drive as fast as they can as safely as they can, because we don't want anybody going out on the public roads and trying to burn up the tires and show off," said Shelby club organizer Rich Kopec.

The Shelby American Automobile Club moves their annual gathering around each year, and every so often it lands at Auto Club Speedway of California in Fontana.

It's three days of Shelby-mania: cars, parts, more cars, even ones people don't necessarily remember. And it's a reunion of former Shelby employees who built the original cars in a Los Angeles factory back in the day.

"Shelby was only in business from '62 or -3, to '66 or '67, and look what he's created, and these people gather every year, and many times during the year, to celebrate these cars," said veteran Shelby enthusiast Lynn Park.

Shelby the man died last year after a long, colorful life. But his cars continue on, with fan after fan affirming their allegiance to the cars that won races years ago, and are still built today.

Many of these original Shelby automobiles are worth six figures -- well into six figures. But they don't just sit in showrooms or in private collections. The owners take them out on the track and exercise them, just the way Carroll Shelby intended.

And Jerry Yost of Whittier has been doing just that for almost three decades with his Shelby Mustang. But this will be his last on-track event. He's decided to no longer risk it out there.

But he's not going to sell the car.

"Nope," said Yost. "I've thought about that from time to time, but I've had it so long it's just like an old friend."

Two days of track fun are capped off with an evening banquet and huge static car show on Saturday. So there's still time to come out and see them, and hear stories about how capable these legendary cars are to this day.


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