Just the opportunity to see so many amazing Shelby and Ford vehicles parked in one place would be more than enough to excite most red-blooded car enthusiasts, but what really made last weekend’s Ford Cobra Shelby Reunion special was track time.
Not just any track time, but track time on a historic road course that had been resurrected for this special event.
While the scenery has changed since the last road race events were run at Pomona in 1963, it was amazing to me just how much of that old school character was preserved.
It really doesn’t look all that much different from the period photos seen in last week’s retrospective.
The best part is that the famous bridge from the original course still exists and looks almost exactly as it did in the ’50s and ’60s.
The paddock area set up inside the Fairplex also had a strange nostalgic feeling to it.
Sure, the support vehicles had changed from station wagons and old vans to enormous RVs and dually pickups – but the whole thing somehow had the spirit of 1960s era road race meet.
Prior to heading out to the track, I took a browse around the paddock to check out some of the cars that would be running over the weekend.
This Mercury Cougar Trans Am machine was impressive. The Boss 302 might be Ford’s most famous Trans Am racer, but the earlier accomplishments of these Mercurys are not to be overlooked.
Great looking car isn’t it? One of the most under-appreciated race cars of the 1960s I’d say.
While the Thunderbird wasn’t designed to be an outright sports car, it’s interesting to note just how similar the early T-Birds are to the Corvette. Like the ‘Vette, hotted up T-Birds could be occasionally be found in use at road race events. The T-Bird would evolve into more of a luxury cruiser over the next few years, but there’s something very pure about these early cars.
One of the many Cobras that came to Pomona to be unleashed on the track.
In 1964 Mercury prepared six small block-powered Comets for competition in the East African Safari Rally. This particular car is a perfect replica of those American-bred rally machines.
While the narrow tires and soft suspension did not lend the Comet very well to the Pomona road course…
…they did help to make for some dramatic photographs. Who says body roll is a bad thing?
And speaking of the dramatic, this takes me back to that amazing little Falcon that was running hard on the track all day long.
Each time the Falcon would around the tight corner after the bridge, the front inside wheel would rise beautifully into the air – nearly a foot I’d say.
Early on, it was clear that the bridge was the best place to catch the action at Pomona – both then and now. Whether it was standing to the south watching the cars emerge…
…or perched up on the bridge itself looking down as the cars crest the “bump” at the bottom.
During the 1980s Carroll Shelby had a close relationship with Chrysler – building high performance versions of their front-drive compact cars. This little yellow Charger was carrying the flag for that oft-forgotten chapter of Shelby history.
Besides being one the only non Ford-powered cars on the track, it was also the only car on the track that wasn’t making V8 noises. Surely the Shelby-tweaked Chryslers from the ’80s will never hold the same legendary status as the Cobra or the Mustang, but I am interested to see how they will stand the test of time.
For now, I don’t think owners of early Shelbys like this 289 Cobra have anything to worry about.
Somebody even brought out a NASCAR truck to run, which I’m sure gave a nice Saturday morning wake up call to the folks around the Fairplex.
I’m not sure exactly why this particular was G.T. 350 was sitting so low compared to the other Mustangs on the track, but it sure looked tough.
The way they move, the way the sound. Just another example of why vintage racing is so damn great.
While Pomona wasn’t more than a big parking lot course, this angle looking towards to the bridge does give it the look of a more prestigious road course.
Stock cars never ran at the original Pomona track of course, but watching this Talladega lapping the track gave an idea of what it might have been like. It’s unfortunate that reviving the demolished Riverside track would be just a bit more involved than the Pomona course…
The new Boss 302 seemed to quickly adapt to the old track. It’s in its DNA after all.
It’d be tough to choose between the refinement and comfort of a newer Boss or Shelby Mustang or the character, rarity, and rawness of an original.
Then again, if you have the means to own and race an original Shelby, you can probably spare the expense to also have a brand new performance car. You know, just as a daily beater.
I’m going to end this chapter right here, but there’s plenty more to come from Pomona.