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icture the perfect place for a

Shelby employee reunion. Lots of Co-

bras, historical displays and even

some of the machines, welders and

tools from the original factory in

Venice. You would be picturing The

Cobra Experience in Martinez, Cali-

fornia. It was the site of the latest

Shelby American employee reunion on

November 6, 2015, the 17th in as

many years; 65 heads were counted.

We visited the museum during its

grand opening, almost a year ago to

the day, and the place seemed a little

smaller because now it has more cars

and a few new displays which took up

some room. We are happy to report

that Drew Serb and his dedicated crew

of nepotists – wife Janet and daugh-

ters Emily and Kate – have really got-

ten a handle on the museum thing.

Everything ran like a well-oiled 289

Cobra race engine.

SAAC member Bob Shaw of Foun-

tain Valley, California has been spear-

heading Shelby employee reunions

ever since they began. In fact, he was

the one who began them! A long time

Cobra enthusiast, he had been attend-

ing Southern California car shows,

meets and open tracks for as long as

anyone can remember. Once in a while

at these events he would run into

some of the people who were part of

the Cobra Team or who worked for

Shelby American at various times be-

tween 1962 and 1970. What started

out as a handful of people when

Shelby built the first Cobra soon ex-

panded to more than four dozen when

the Venice facility was humming. Two

years later, when the company had

outgrown the buildings on 1042

Princeton Drive and moved to the two,

cavernous North American hangars at

the edge of Los Angeles International

Airport, the number of employees was

probably close to three hundred, in-

cluding Ford employees temporarily

assigned to Shelby American.

In 1995, Shaw had bumped into

enough former Shelby folks that he re-

alized there was a desire among most

of them to keep in touch with each

other. On his own, he started to com-

pile a directory of contact information.

He put together a list of employees

and sent each one a questionnaire ask-

ing them for their addresses and

phone numbers, the dates they worked

for Shelby American, what their job

title was, and would they allow their

contact information to be included in

his directory. He explained that dis-

semination would be limited to only

those who were in it. Making it public

could open the floodgates to enthusi-

asts and car owners who were always

hungry for information, cars or leads;

Shaw was afraid it could invade the

privacy of these people and make

them regret ever responding to his

questionnaire. He included a list of

everyone he had on his contact list and

asked one other important question:

did they know anyone who worked at

the company who was not on the list?

The responses Bob Shaw received

were slow coming back at first, but as

word circulated through the ranks of

Shelby American alumni the flow of

information picked up. Shaw’s list be-


Winter 2016 53

The 17th Annual Shelby American Employee Reunion was held

at the Cobra Experience in November. 65 of the team attended.

– Rick Kopec


Bob Shaw, founder and spark plug of the

Shelby American employees’ group, other-

wise known as “The Donkey Fund.”