Carroll Shelby is Smiling – The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

By D. Brian Smith

Photography: D. Brian Smith


Classic Industries coworker told me several months ago to go visit the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, in Irvine, California, and several times thereafter over the passing months. Every time he mentioned it, I'd make a mental note to myself while responding to him with something like, "Yeah, I gotta go there and check out all the Shelby Mustangs, Cobras, and Shelby Daytona coupes." 

Shelby Mustang Ragtop Royalty of the First Order

1968 Shelby GT500 yellow

Above: Read the Grabber Yellow Shelby GT500KR tag below for the full scoop on this ragtop. 

Not long after making that statement and storing the mental nugget in my brain, I'd be onto some other work project, and the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center morsel would be in my brain's rear view mirror.

The Gumball Rally

Speaking of rear view mirrors, if you're a gear head, you've probably seen the movie from 1976 called, The Gumball Rally. The movie is about an eclectic group of people who take part in a secret, and illegal, cross country road race.

1972 Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona Spyder

Above:  A 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder that looked like this gave chase to a 1966 Guardsman Blue 427 Shelby Cobra throughout The Gumball Rally film. The Daytona Spyder's interior looked like the photo below. These two Ferrari photos are courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

Actor Raul Julia, playing the part of Franco, an Italian F1 race car driver, who is copiloting a Rosso Corso Red Ferrari Daytona Spyder, says to his buddy in the navigator seat:

"And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving. [Franco rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car] What's-a behind me is not important."

1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder interior

Looking Back & Forward @ the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

Franco, aka actor Raul Julia made a great point of saying not to look back when one is racing a V12 powered Ferrari Daytona Spyder at 180-miles per hour. However, the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center is a place of preservation, celebration, and education. Thanks to people like Carroll Shelby, Peter Brock, Ken Miles, Don Frey, Bob Bondurant, Jim Schwarz, Dan Gurney, Jerry Titus, Alan Grant, Dave Friedman, Rick Titus, Peter Miles, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Phil Remington, Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, Enzo Ferrari (for the competition), Phil Hill, Dean Moon, and the list goes on and on...we're fortunate to have such an illustrious American automotive production history, hot rodding, and racing heritage that first really gained momentum right after World War II.

1968 Grabber Yellow GT500KR neighbor

Above: The full scoop on this 'neighboring' 1968 Grabber Yellow Shelby GT500KR Mustang convertible is on the placard just below.

1968 GT500KR good placard

1968 GT500 yellow neighbor ragtop

The Original Venice Crew @ the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

1965 OVC 98i

Going back to the lead photo and paragraph of this article, the reason that I finally found my way to the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, on Saturday May 18, 2024 - the Original Venice Crew was going to be part of a special event at the Segerstrom. On Friday May 17, officemates and I got to talking about the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center again, so I finally looked up the event center on the interwebs and learned that a presentation that included members of the OVC team would be part of the special event.  

1965 OVC with Jim and coworker

Above: The first prototype OVC 1965 Shelby GT350R Mustang with IRS is in the lead photo and here. The OVC is also building 1965 Shelby GT350 Roadsters, also seen in the lead photo. Peter Brock designed the improved front fascia for both the fastback and the roadster. Famous 2005-2006 Ford GT designer Camillo Pardo, designed the roadster's tonneau cover. Visit OVCMustangs for more information on these IRS equipped Shelby GT350 continuation cars that have both Shelby American and the Ford Motor Company's seal of approval.

The Original Venice Crew (OVC) is comprised of members of the same team of Shelby Enterprises employees from the early 1960's who built the original 36 racing Shelby Mustangs in 1964 and 1965. In 1962, the Original Venice Crew was founded to build race cars and to win auto racing championships the world over. Based in Venice, California, the team consisted of very talented race car drivers, fabricators, designers, and builders, all led by a former chicken ranch owner and 24 Hours of LeMans endurance auto race overall winner - Mr. Carroll Hall Shelby. 

OVC crew sharper

Above: Left to right are OVC crew members Jim Marietta, Ted Sutton, Pat Bondurant (wife of the late, great race car driver and race driving school owner/instructor Bob Bondurant), and Peter Miles (son of the late and great race car driver, builder, mechanic, and fabricator Ken Miles). 

Some of the original crew, including Jim Marietta, Ted Sutton, and Peter Brock have brought the OVC race car building band of automotive engineers, aerodynamicists, drivers, and craftsmen back together to build 36 more of these Guardsman Blue LeMans striped over Wimbledon White 1965 B-Production racing machines! These new 36 tarmac tamers will be built almost exactly like the first 36 batch of SCCA championship winners, with some subtle aerodynamic improvements by none other than Peter Brock, the designer of the famous 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that won the GT Class in 1964 at LeMans and placed fourth overall, piloted by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant.

The team is also equipping all 36 of these fastback Shelby Mustangs with independent rear suspensions! Back in 1964 Jim Marietta worked on one prototype GT350R model that had IRS. Ford nixed the IRS idea originally, as the bean counters calculated that the Shelby Mustang would be too expensive to equip with the IRS, and it wouldn't sell well enough at the higher price to justify the added production costs. 

Daytona Coupe nose

As providence and good karma would have it, a gentleman approached the OVC crew and informed them that he had the blueprints for the original Ford prototype IRS and three complete IRS suspension systems that would have been fitted in the GT350's. Since none of those Ford accountants are part of the OVC crew today, Jim, Ted, and Peter figured what the heck - all of the OVC Shelby GT350's will have IRS systems in place. Who says you can't look back and look forward at the same time?

Daytona coupe front side

Above: There are three photos of #18, a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that is painted Wimbledon White LeMans stripes over Guardsman Blue. The designer of both the original Daytona Coupe, and the reproduction Superformance and Shelby American Daytona, Peter Brock, couldn't attend this event. Mr. Brock was being honored at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for his noteworthy aerodynamic contributions throughout his illustrious career and as owner of a hang glider company, Ultralight Products Inc., founded in 1972. You'll remember that Kitty Hawk is where the Wright Brothers first flew their propeller engine powered airplane.

Daytona Coupe side rear

Lunch - Not @ Sammy's Original - In A Time Warp

Sammys Original

We arrived in Irvine about an hour before the event would commence at Segerstrom, so we drove around the area in search of getting a bite to eat. A place called Sammy's Original caught this humble scribe's eye. While my wife was walking our Labrador daughter Shelby, I went inside Sammy's (which happens to be the name of our first Labrador daughter who's now up in Heaven). It doesn't take a Mustang hotshoe to know who Shelby is named after, but I digress. Sammy's is actually a sports bar where off track wagering takes place. In fact, Sammy's Original is Southern California's number one destination for betting on the ponies, with more than 60 races a day. 

1969 Boss 429 Mustang-1

Above: The scoop on this bad to the bone 1969 Boss 429 Mustang in Royal Maroon is on the placard below.

Boss 429 engine
1969 Boss 429 Mustang placard

Going inside Sammy's was like traveling back in time. The interior looked like any smoke-filled gambling casino set in Las Vegas in the 1970's without the cigarette smoke in the air. There didn't appear to be too many happy faces in the crowd. Perhaps their bets weren't panning out. With the second leg of the Triple Crown running that day - The Preakness - Sammy's was jam packed. A waiter gave me a to go menu that he said was different for this special day. Since we weren't planning to bet on the ponies, the wife and I ate at a Mexican restaurant nearby, so that I'd be able to be on time to take photos of the most famous automotive ponies of all time and hear the full presentation at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center.

Las Fajitas

Above: As the sign indicates, we had a delicious lunch at Las Fajitas Mexican Grill.

Shelby ads copy

Arriving at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center just before 2:00 pm, I was able to snap some photos and meet some of the Segerstrom members and Cobra Owners Club of America, Orange County members (COCOA). One of the gentlemen that I spoke to went to the University of California at Irvine at the same time I was there. We realized that we were probably in some classes together. I learned that he's building a Factory Five Type 65 Daytona Coupe replica, and he has the book that I wrote on building a Cobra replica. "It's a small world (After all)." 

1968 Mustang 428 ragtop copy

Above: The placard below tells the tale of this 1968 428 Cobra Jet Mustang convertible. 

1968 428 Mustang convertible placard

Segerstrom Shelby Event MC'ed by Rick Titus

1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC

The event center served hors d'oeuvres and beverages from 2 pm to 2:30 pm, before the Master of Ceremonies, Rick Titus commenced the presentation. Mr. Titus talked about Carroll Shelby, Shelby Cobra and Shelby Mustang racing. We heard briefly about the Trans-Am racing exploits of his father Jerry Titus winning the 1967 Trans-Am Racing Championship in a '67 Trans-Am Mustang notchback coupe. He gave us a glimpse into the drama of Ford and Shelby Enterprises winning LeMans in 1966 and 1967 with Ford GT40's, and some of the talented drivers and builders of the Original Venice Crew like Ken Miles, Peter Brock, Jim Marietta, and Ted Sutton. He gave us a peek into the present and future development of the Ford Mustang and also goings on at GM and Mopar, in terms of the current production American pony and muscle car landscape in the U.S.A..

1969 Shelby GT500

Above: You should be able to read the placard on this Royal Maroon 1969 Shelby GT500 Mustang ragtop just below.

1969 GT500 Royal Maroon placard

OVC Member & OVC Founder Jim Marietta

OVC member and present day OVC founder Jim Marietta next spoke and also provided a slide presentation of Dave Friedman's photographs from 1962-1965. Mr. Friedman was the official Shelby Enterprises/OVC team photographer from inception. 

Pat B speaking

Bob Bondurant & Pat Bondurant

Pat Bondurant then announced that she's writing a book about her late husband, Bob Bondurant, chronicling his spectacular auto racing and driving school career. She shared with us some of Bob's stories that have us muscle car and auto racing fans waiting with anticipation for the book to be published.

Shelby elevator

Above: On the top floor is a 1969 Shelby GT500 Mustang convertible. The third floor contains a Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue stripes 1968 GT500KR Shelby convertible. On the second floor is a 1967 GT500 Shelby Mustang fastback that has the Shelby 10-spoke 15-inch wheels, one of the optional wheels for 1967-68 Shelby's. On the first floor is an Acapulco Blue 1968 GT350 Shelby Mustang ragtop that is powered by a 302-cubic inch V8 engine.

1970 Shelby GT500 side

Above: As the placard below depicts, here is yet another one-of-one 1970 Shelby GT500 Mustang convertible. Let's go drag racing!

1970 GT500 placard

Ken Miles & Peter Miles

With help from the audience cheering him on stage, Pat coaxed Peter Miles, the son of famous OVC/Shelby Enterprises team driver (1966 Sebring, Daytona, and LeMans winner, mechanic, and race car fabricator) Ken Miles. Peter provided some childhood memories into his home life as a young lad as the son of Mr. and Mrs. Miles. Many of us learned that Peter has also traveled the world working as a race mechanic for several off-road racing teams. 

1966 GT350H Sapphire Blue

Above: There was an entire row of 1966 Shelby GT350H Mustang Hertz Rent A Car's on display. The placard below gives the lowdown on the Gold LeMans stripes over Sapphire Blue Hertz Shelby here.

Sapphire Blue GT350H placard

Like Father Like Son

There's a fair bit of like father like son with Mr. Rick Titus and Mr. Peter Miles, which is great to see for automotive enthusiasts around the globe. Perhaps there's hope for preserving ICE-powered enthusiasts automobiles from the past and automotive manufacturers producing ICE, hybrid, electric, hydrogen, solar, and other forms of propulsion-powered vehicles into the future. 

1965 GT350 1st sold

Above: You're looking at the second sold production 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang that is the first surviving GT350 street car. The placard below provides the story. However, this GT350 currently has the stock 15-inch steel wheels, not the Cragar mags as the sign suggests. The other photo of this Shelby was taken from the second floor balcony.  

1965 GT350 2nd sold placard
1965 GT350 from 2nd floor

1969 GT500 orange ragtop

1969 GT500 interior

Above: This Competition Orange 1969 Shelby GT500 convertible is another one-of-one machine. You can get the story from the sign below. 

1969 GT500 orange sign

1969 GT500 orange rear

Finding a New Home @ the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

Shelby Cobra 427SC

If I weren't already married, I'd want to be hitched surrounded by these iconic and historic Shelby Mustangs, Cobras, and Daytona Coupes, with my gear head family and friends in attendance. What a wedding event that would be! If I didn't already have a place to live, I'd want to live here. We could guard the precious automotive artifacts and have our Labrador Shelby sniff out any trouble before it happens. I could help maintain these glorious machines, constantly give them thorough auto details and polishes, take them out for some exercise from time-to-time, and lavish them all with the attention that they've so richly earned over the years.

1967 Mustang notchback Jerry Titus replica

Above: Shelby American recreated the 1967 Mustang notchback coupe that Jerry Titus drove to win the 1967 Trans-Am Championship. The details are below.

1967 Titus Mustang sign

Now that I've visited once, I plan to be back on many more occasions in the future. You can visit the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center to find out about upcoming events at this amazing Shelby museum and event center. Mr. Carroll Hall Shelby was larger than life when he was alive. He and his legacy will live on into the future, thanks to enthusiasts like the Segerstroms and the millions of Shelby enthusiasts around the world.

1968 GT350H blue one

Above: There were only two 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR Hertz Rent A Car convertibles as part of the greatly reduced Hertz fleet in 1968. You're looking at the one that still survives. The details are just below: "Rent the car your wife would never let you buy" is a great advertising slogan.

1968 GT350H

1968 Shelby GT500KR red convertible

Above: The 1968 Shelby GT500KR convertible is the Segerstroms' second Shelby Mustang acquisition, and is yet another one-of-one. Please see the details on the sign below.

1968 Long Distance Traveler placard

Shelby American Continuation Vehicles 

Cobra 427SC polished

Above: The sign below provides the details for this Special 50th Anniversary 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra. Wow!

Cobra polished sign
Cobra polished nose

Back Soon to the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

1969 Shelby cabooses

Sadly, my first experience at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center had to come to an end. The kind folks at SSEC were about to lock me in the building, which I wouldn't have minded at all. However, my wife and daughter Shelby were getting restless waiting for me in the rental car parked at another office building nearby. Several photographs I took didn't get published here. What that means is that you'll need to pay the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, in Irvine, California a visit yourself. If you're a gear head with an affinity for Mustangs, Cobras, Daytona Coupes, Ford GT40's, Carroll Shelby, auto racing, Shelby Mustangs, etc., etc., etc., you'll have a blast!

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SSEC overall

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