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very year since 1983, with a few

exceptions, the Northern Cali-

fornia region of the Shelby American

Automobile Club holds an event they

call “Mini-Nats,” their name for a re-

gional convention. The event is usually

centered around either the SCCA-

owned Thunder Hill road race track,

located in Willows, California (about

90 miles north of Sacramento) or

Sonoma Raceway (previously known

as Sears Point, then Infineon). The

event is a three day celebration of the

life, the automobiles, and the racing

adventures of Carroll Shelby and

Shelby American, the company he

founded, which is still ongoing.

A car show on Friday is followed

by a weekend of road racing, with a lit-

tle drag racing thrown in for variety. A

barbecue at the track Friday night is

followed by a banquet on Saturday

night, this year at the Embassy Suites

in San Rafael, the event headquarters

for the weekend.

There was a wine country tour on

Saturday afternoon for those who

wanted to get away from the track for

a bit. Roughly fifteen cars partici-

pated. An assortment of Mustangs and

Cobras drove through Sonoma and

Napa for a few hours with an ice

cream stop in the resort town of Calis-

toga. Darn good ice cream with op-

tional chocolate hand-dip.

I was lucky enough to find a ride

in Don Wollesen’s cherry-red 1967

Shelby GT350, a drivable show car.

I’ve known Don since the early 1990s

when I joined the club and began bab-

bling about putting Weber carburetors

on my small block Cobra. Somebody

pointed me towards him for an expla-

nation of what a foolish idea that was.

Since then, Don taught me everything

I know about hot rodding small block

Ford engines (just not everything he

knows about it). I’m still asking ques-


I sold my Weber set-up a few months

ago for a 50-percent profit over what I

paid for it in 1990. The Holley on my

car works just great, so everything

turned out OK.

Min-Nats weekend usually brings

out some auto industry celebrities. De-

signer, racer, driving instructor, race

car team owner, manufacturer, author

and all-around Renaissance man,

Peter Brock flew up from Las Vegas to

attend the banquet. Brock’s bio is a

book subject in itself, so I won’t at-

tempt to do it justice here. I’ll simply

say he was the youngest designer GM

hired; he worked on the Corvette

Stingray, was the first Shelby Ameri-

can employee – hired as a driving in-

structor at Shelby’s race car driving

school at the Riverside road race

track, he designed the World Champi-

onship-winning Daytona Coupe and

he had a hand in most everything else

at Shelby American until 1965. He

won an SCCA national championship

managing his own Datsun team and

dominated the Under-Two-Liter

Trans-Am Championship. Need more?

Google Peter Brock or BRE – Brock

Racing Enterprises.

Alan Grant, a Cobra roadster and

Daytona Coupe team driver and em-

ployee of Shelby American during the

racing Cobras and Mustang days, at-

tended the banquet and shared mem-


324 Fall 2015

– Harvey Sherman