Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  55 / 150 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 55 / 150 Next Page
Page Background

If you’ve ever run the open track

event at a SAAC convention, you know

Vinny Liska. He has been overseeing

SAAC’s Tech Inspection at the conven-

tion since the club began scheduling

open tracks at SAAC-5 in Dearborn.

Every time the club lets a car out on

the track to run at speed, it is rolling

the dice that the car is mechanically

safe. The people at Tech Inspection

help keep those odds in the club’s


A serious accident or fatality out

on the track could tie the club up in

legal knots that could result in the

end of open tracks as well as the fi-

nancial gutting of the club. That’s

the downside. What’s the upside?

Hundreds of members every year

get to experience the visceral thrill

of driving their car on a road race

circuit as fast as they feel comfort-

able going. How fast is that? There

have been 427 Cobras that have

touched 180 mph. A serious inspec-

tion of each car is made to uncover

worn or unsafe components which

have to be repaired before the car is

allowed on the track. The tech in-

spection process is overseen by

Liska, who gives the final thumbs-

up or thumbs-down. The buck stops

with him, and it has for the past

thirty-five years. In that time, not once

has a car been involved in an on-track

incident due to a mechanical malfunc-

tion that was not caught in tech in-


If you own a 1968, 1969 or 1970

Shelby you probably have Liska’s pic-

ture on your mantle. He is SAAC’s ‘68-

’69-‘70 Shelby Registrar and has been

responsible for digging out factory in-

formation on every one of these cars,

sifting through the sand and finding

the gold. When he talks about how

dealers handled orders or how the fac-

tory fulfilled them he speaks from ex-

perience. He was the original owner of

a ‘68 GT500 and a year later bought a

‘69 GT500 that he drag raced. In fact,

he still holds the record for F/Pure

Stock at New York National Speedway

and because that track no longer ex-

ists, his record will never be broken.

Like most of us, Liska was always

interested in cars. His father worked

on cars in the neighborhood in New

Jersey (back when anyone who could

open a hood could do that). He had

learned a lot from his time in the

Army, assigned to the motor pool. He

worked on his own cars and soon word

spread in the neighborhood and he be-

came the go-to guy for mechanical

work. Young Vincent picked up a lot

just from watching him and soon was


His father wanted to get him a car

after high school, before he got drafted

(in 1967 that was a pretty sure thing),

and took him to look at a Rambler.

Rather than submit to that type of au-

tomotive humiliation, Liska said he

would wait to get a car after he got

out. In its infinite wisdom, the Army

assigned him as a typing instructor

at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. It was a

tough job, but somebody had to do it.

In his time off he mostly read car

magazines and tried to decide what

kind of a car he would get after he

left the service. He had it narrowed

down to a Jaguar XKE, a Corvette

or a Shelby. As he got close to exiting

the military he had decided on the

Shelby because it had a good size

trunk and a back seat.

He lived frugally while he was on

active duty, sending all of his money

home except for $20 a month. When

he got out he was 21, so he immedi-

ately went to the local Ford dealer

and ordered a new Shelby GT500,

Highland Green with a black inte-

rior and a four-speed. After putting

down a $2,000 deposit, the monthly

payments were $60 a month. About a

year after getting the car, a river in the

town he worked in backed up and

flooded. His Shelby was one of the ca-

sualties. The water got up to the dash-

board, but not over it. The dealer did

an excellent job of cleaning the car up

but it began experiencing electrical


Summer 2016 55

The Best Known Name in the Club?

It just might be SAAC’s 1968-1969-1970 Registrar

– Rick Kopec