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A “Ford” Family Tradition

  • 12 June 2024
  • Author: SAI-JohnE
  • Number of views: 55
A “Ford” Family Tradition

I’m very proud to serve as the Team Shelby Northeast Regional Director, which includes 13 states and the District of Columbia.  I became the Regional Director in 2016, when the torch was passed over a beer and a bowl of chili. It seemed appropriate given Carroll’s love of Shiner Boch and a good chili. Prior to that, I was the Pennsylvania State Director for a few years, and previously the official photographer for Team Shelby Northeast.

I attended RocktoberFest, which is considered the first formal TSNE event in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, during 2011.  Since then, my wife Karen and I have attended numerous Team Shelby events, including a few of the Las Vegas Bashes, every East Coast Grand National and All Ford Nationals at Carlisle, Shelby related events at the Simeone Museum, many track days, regional breakfasts, and most recently an international trip to England to experience the Goodwood Revival.

I was raised in a “Ford Family” and from very early on, I was attracted to Shelby vehicles.  Among other memorabilia, I collect diecast cars. My mother gave me my first two diecasts.  They were a white 427 Cobra and a Gulf Blue GT40 and I still have both today. 

In my teens, I longed for a 1966 Shelby GT350.  It needed to be blue with white stripes.  As I got older, I still wanted a Shelby GT350, but the ever rising value of the cars outpaced my paychecks.  The desire was strong, but the wallet was weak. 

I thought that someday I might build a tribute car but may not ever own a real Shelby.  I went so far as to paint my 1980 Ghia Mustang blue with white stripes, changed the wheels, added a rear wing and hood scoop, to make my own version of an 80’s GT350.  Then in 2007, something miraculous happened; Carroll and Ford rekindled their relationship, and a new generation of Shelby cars was born!

Three days after the car was unveiled to the public, I placed my name on the waiting list at my local Ford dealer.  I was number 13 on the list, and a buddy of mine was number 1.  He got an early 2007 GT500, and I got a late year 2008.  I waited almost a year and a half for my car to be built.  I finally was a real Shelby owner! 

Fifteen years later, the car is far from stock, but I vowed not to do anything to it that I couldn’t undo.  Not an extra hole has been added, nor any wires cut or spliced.  Except for clutch work that was done by Ford under a TSB, all other modifications to the car I did myself, including a full suspension upgrade, upgraded brakes, and bolt on engine upgrades.   

Some people who only know me because of my fascination with Shelby, think that being the Northeast Regional Director is my full-time job.  It is not, as I have a real, paying job, but Team Shelby certainly is a labor of love.  

Car first drew me to Team Shelby.  Being a member allowed me to attend gatherings where the cars were the centerpiece, and I was afforded the opportunity to get closer to both the vintage and new generation vehicles.  Over a short period of time, the cars became the catalyst for developing relationships and friendships with the owners.  The cars continue to bring us together, but the people keep us together.

Once I became a Regional Director, another motivation began to evolve.  We are all so lucky and truly blessed to have these cars, and the group of individuals that the cars have introduced us to, that I felt the need to build on that emotion to benefit others.

An existing relationship with The Carroll Shelby Foundation was further developed and strengthened. Charitable work and fundraising to support The Foundation became a part of our activities. Children and adults with disabilities have attended our events to share in the enthusiasm for the Shelby marque, as well as tell us their stories of how others have helped them through their generosity to The Foundation and other similar charities.  Meeting these individuals, and seeing the joy and gratitude in their faces, is what keeps me motivated and always looking and moving forward to the next event. 

When people would ask Carroll which of the cars that he made was the best one, he would answer “The next one!”.  Similarly, if you were to ask me which of our events was the best one, I’d have to follow Carroll’s lead and also say, “The next one!”             

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