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Dave MacDonald tested it at Riverside

and promptly lowered the track


By the time the 1963 fall series

began at Kent, Washington at the end

of September, Shelby American had

two Cooper Monacos (now called “King

Cobras,” having been given that name

by the automotive press). The cars,

driven by Dave MacDonald and Bob

Holbert, were clearly the fastest. Hol-

bert broke the track record and won

the pole position. However, mechanical

problems plagued both cars and they

failed to finish. Two weeks later Mac-

Donald won the second race at River-

side and he won again at Laguna

Seca. Detecting some customer inter-

est, Shelby ordered two more cars

which were purchased by Comstock

Racing in Canada.

Shelby ordered four more Cooper-

Monacos for 1964. The first one was

completed for Olympia Brewery heir

Craig Lang. The car was raced by Mac-

Donald or Holbert in several west

coast SCCA events until it was

wrecked by Holbert at Kent and to-

tally destroyed. Shelby ordered a

space frame to replace it and Peter

Brock designed a totally new body for

the car, which was built by Don Ed-

munds and Wally Peat. It was much

more aerodynamic than the original

Cooper-Monaco but used the same

chassis and mechanicals. This car,

dubbed the “Lang Cooper,” looked

svelte with smooth, crisp lines but as

it was going together, Edmunds

thought Brock’s rear “ring airfoil”

spoiler was too complicated. The same

thing had happened with the Daytona

Coupe. Brock had designed an elabo-

rate curved spoiler but when they ran

out of time, Phil Remington specified

that the Coupe be built without it be-

cause it had never been tested.

Aerodynamics had yet to be a

proven concept, although Brock had

an intuitive feeling it would work. Ed-

munds simplified the design as he was

building the rear section and left the

ring airfoil off. He was a superb crafts-

man and did a beautiful job of simpli-

fying the rear clip on his own. When

Brock saw the car’s flat rear deck he

realized that Edmunds had essentially

built a large airplane wing. And like

an airplane wing it would generate lift

instead of downforce that a ring airfoil

would create, making the car almost

undrivable at high speeds.

Brock explained to Edmunds that

it was like someone designing an air-

plane, and then the fabricator arbi-

trarily deciding, on his own, to remove

the entire rear rudder and stabilizer.

However, because aerodynamics was

in its infancy and Brock could not

point to any tests or examples which

worked, Edmunds’ rear treatment

stayed the way he had built it. Dave

MacDonald was intended to be the

Lang Cooper’s driver. He drove the car

only once before being killed in a fiery

crash at the 1964 Indianapolis 500.

Always looking down the road,

Shelby realized that while the 1964

Fall Series was still six months away,

the ante would be raised the following

year. A number of teams from Aus-

tralia, England, Italy and New

Zealand were already said to be

preparing new cars for 1965 with a

horsepower war in the offing. Small

block Fords and Chevies would no

longer be enough.

Shelby contacted constructor

Alessandro DeTomaso in Italy and

asked if he could design and re-engi-

neer the venerable Cobra small block

V8 into a 7-liter racing engine.

DeTomaso said he could and then sug-

gested the engine be mated with an in-

novative backbone chassis he had

designed which used the engine as

part of the chassis structure. He had

already constructed a car using this

chassis, called the Vallelunga, and the

concept worked; however it was pow-

ered by a four-cylinder Ford engine

that was hopelessly under-powered.

Shelby knew that two seasons was

stretching it for the King Cobras. They

would need to be replaced if he was to

remain competitive in the USRRC and

the West Coast Fall Series. The fact

that a car already existed using

DeTomaso’s new backbone chassis

helped convince him. Shelby ordered

six cars. He would supply the plans for

the body, based on Peter Brock’s Lang-

Cooper design, while DeTomaso

worked on the new 7-liter engine.


Spring 2016 30

Evolution: Cooper-Monaco “King Cobra” [


] was raced by Shelby American in 1963 and 1964; Brock-designed Lang Cooper was

based on a wrecked Cooper Monaco [


] and raced in 1964; Brock’s quarter-scale clay model for a the sports racer [


] that

was intended to replace the King Cobra for 1965 and was later used for the DeTomaso sports racer.

DeTomaso Identifier: the first of the “backbone chassis” cars, the Vallelunga [


]. Between 1964 and 1968 about 50 were produced.

The “Sport 5000” [


] was based on Peter Brock’s original P70 design. It was powered by a small block Ford engine. The P70



] never raced. Shelby pulled the plug before the car was completed.