SAAC 25 at Lime Rock

by John S. Allen


 

 This year’s annual gathering of the Shelby American Automobile Club took place from 30 June to 3 July, at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park circuit.  Marking the club’s twenty-fifth anniversary, SAAC-25 was billed as a GT40 reunion - although, as time would tell, the final roll call of GT40s was something of a disappointment in quantity, although not in quality.

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Prominent amongst the GT40 attendees was George Stauffer, whose team brought along no fewer than four cars.  They were: 1046, the ‘66 Le Mans-winning Mark II; “1047”, the latter-day red Mark II, now refurbished and turned out in IIB configuration, and for sale @ $345,000; 1102, the ex-Wyer Mark III, and J-4, the ‘67 Sebring-winning Mark IV.  

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Another Mark IIB was Bill Ostrower’s beautiful example in silver with dark blue stripes, which is a replica of 1031.  Jim Glickenhaus actually drove to the circuit in his lovely yellow Mark IV, which had placed second at Le Mans in 1967; it appears that this car is actually J-6, and not J-5 as had previously been thought.  Having spent many years painted as a replica of the red Le Mans-winner, the car is now restored to its original paint scheme, so that at last all the ‘67 team Mark IVs are back in original colours.

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Barney Hallingby also drove his GT40 road-car to the circuit.  1069, an ex-Ford press car, is still in yellow livery, and is in immaculate condition, and Barney kindly made it available for me to photograph at his beautiful home.

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Lee Holman came with two of the superb Holman Moody Mark IIs, the familiar white 201, and the almost complete gold 203.  The accuracy of these new Mark IIs is quite stunning, the incomplete 203 allowing detail of the engine bay and the chassis to be seen and appreciated. Jack Launtz brought the ex-Alan Mann, ex-Paul Hawkins, AM.GT40.2, still in the deep metallic-blue livery it has worn for many years.  

Perhaps the most surprising visitor was the ex-Filipinetti gold-painted 1040, which for many years has been owned by Don Silawsky.  The car was shown disassembled, being basically body panels perched precariously upon a bare tub, itself standing on trestles.  Don is looking to sell this veteran of Le Mans, and $350,000 will prise it, as it is, out of his hands; if you want him to finish off the restoration for you, you’ll need $500,000.  

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John Sadler and Bob Wood, of Safir GT40 Spares, Ltd, brought their two red Mark Vs, 1124 and 1136 respectively, and carrying race numbers 57 and 17.  These were the only GT40s to take part in the races held on the final day of the event, all previous on-track excursions throughout the weekend being strictly non-competitive displays.  

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Not surprisingly - being based only a few miles away in New Britain, Connecticut - ERA was represented.  The now elderly, but still highly desirable, big-block demonstrator, finished in light blue with white stripes, was their official presence, and the car was joined by others of the marque.  

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SAAC is not an elitist organisation, their motto being “ownership isn’t important - enthusiasm is”.  As a result they quite happily accept Ford-powered cars which are not Shelbys - there were lots of regular Mustangs and other Fords around - and they don’t turn their noses up at replicas.  Some of the GT40 replicas present were so good that only the fact that they were left-hand-drive gave away their lack of pedigree, and they helped bolster the numbers and add more colour, glamour and noise to the event.

Some GT40-owners arrived without their cars.  It was good to meet with Fran Kress (1054) and Gil Jackson (1085 and the second 1009), and to meet up with other stalwarts such as Rick Kopec and Steele Therkleson (some of his mid-sixties photographs are used elsewhere in this website).  Leo Beebe, still carrying his “Henry expects you to win” card, was present, as, of course, was The Man himself, Carroll Shelby.  

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I hope you like the photographs which accompany this report.  With a bit of luck, one day others from the gathering will find their way into yet another picture book!  If you’d like to attend the next SAAC annual convention, check out SAAC’s website, www.saac.com, for details.  Chances are that the event will be at Charlotte, NC, over the July 4th weekend, 2001.