Shelby American Automobile Club at Indy

Shelby American Automobile Club at Indy

by Chris Mulvihill - 06/23/2022

A few weeks ago marked the 47th annual gathering of the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC).

It was held at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in conjunction with the Vintage Racing Invitational and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) race. The Shelby event began on Thursday with a full day of open track times.  Three groups; Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced ran separate 15-minute sessions on the IMS Road Course.  Although the groups (between 20-30 cars) ran clockwise, the course included the straightaway by the famous ‘row of bricks.’  The spirited day of driving was concluded with a private ‘Night at the IMS Museum’ tour and dinner buffet.  

Shelby American Automobile Club at Indy

Friday’s activities included 2 open track sessions, a swap meet, and SAAC concourse judging. SAAC judging is very thorough-which is an understatement! There were 22 Shelbys accepted to be judged by tenured teams (3-4 judges depending on the car) who are experts in the model being examined. It is also noteworthy to mention all 25 judges paid their own way to the event.  The 22 cars chosen to be judged this year originated from 14 states and Canada. Given the scrutiny bestowed on these cars, they must apply (and be accepted) for this level of judging. The cars are broken into four divisions; D1-Pure Stock>using only original OEM parts and D2>Stock in appearance, including best available reproduction parts, DIII-Competition>equipped as it came from the Shelby American factory, Survivor-Original, unrestored, equipped as it came from the Shelby American factory with original parts. Judging teams spend an average of 1 ½ hours on each car and follow a 17-18 page scoring deck.  

Needless to say, earning a Gold, Silver, or Bronze under these kinds of conditions is the highest honor a Shelby can receive. 

Shelby American Automobile Club at Indy

This 1965 GT350 is concourse judged and displays the very rare Argent-painted steel wheels.  The judges were focused on the washer sizes used on the rear bumper and side exhaust bracket. 

Saturday was the Popular Vote Car Show and the last SAAC event of the gathering.  Over 60 Shelby and Ford-powered cars were on display for all to enjoy. They were broken into 29 classes with entrants as well as patrons voting for their favorite vehicle in each class. Given the heat and humidity of the prior days had broken, it was a beautiful sunny day for a car show and a fitting end to event festivities. 

Shelby American Automobile Club at Indy

Jim and Donna Ward’s 1965 Shelby Cobra CSX 2574 (289) won 1st place in Saturday’s Populate Vote Car Show. Jim purchased the numbers matching car used in 1974 for $7,000. He drove the car over the years and recently had it restored.

In 1975 The Shelby American Automobile Club was founded with the mission:  “Dedicated to the care, preservation, history, and enjoyment of the world championship cars from Shelby American, and the cars they have inspired from 1962 to today.” Having attended 3 of these ‘gatherings’ over the years 

(Los Angeles, Detroit, Indianapolis) they have been a fun and educational experience.  It is hard to believe Carroll Shelby passed away in 2012 with 2022 marking the 60th anniversary of Shelby American.  As evidenced by the attendance, the passion and excitement over Shelby-influenced cars remain strong.  The ‘spirit’ of Shelby Performance is enduring and Carroll would be proud. 

About the Author:

Chris Mulvihill founded in 2007.  His passion for cars began as a young boy walking the service area of his grandfather’s Oldsmobile dealership. After graduating from Indiana University, his automobile knowledge expanded to the factory side as a Ford Motor Company Field Manager based in Los Angeles.  During his time on the West Coast, he began attending vintage car events where he established deep-rooted friendships in the classic car industry.  His interests are in the history of cars, restoration, and maximizing driving enjoyment.