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came several lists: known alumni;

those were sent questionnaires but

who had not responded; names which

were known but addresses were not

(“Where Are They Now?”); and the

“Checkered Flag” list of people who

had passed away. As the directory pro-

gressed, all four lists grew. Still acting

on his own, Shaw printed copies of the

directory once a year and mailed them

out to everyone he had an address for

(about 125 at the beginning). Another

list was drawn up, comprised of inde-

pendent racers who campaigned Co-

bras, GT350s, GT40s and Trans-Am

cars, crew members and mechanics.

While not drawing Shelby American

payroll checks, they nonetheless

played an important part in the com-

pany’s history. Also on the list were re-

union supporters and sponsors.

Bernie Kretzschmar, who had

worked in Shelby American’s race

shop building R-Models and Trans-Am

notchbacks, also took an interest in

the directory and pitched in to help

Shaw. Some of the former employees

were a little hesitant to talk to an “out-

sider” like Shaw but when they were

contacted by Kretzschmar they were

much more receptive. When Carroll

Shelby learned what was going on he

threw his support behind the effort.

In the last few years of his life,

Shelby quietly donated $10,000 a year

to the fund. It was used to not only de-

fray the expenses of the annual re-

unions but in some cases to cover

burial expenses or ancillary costs for

employees who passed away without

any assets.

After leaving Shelby American,

the vast majority of alumni settled in

California; most in the southern por-

tion of the state. Some went north and

some to Oregon and Washington. A

few who had come from Ford in Michi-

gan gravitated back there. Because

the majority had been from Southern

California originally and were still

there, it only made sense to hold the

reunions in the L.A. area. Whenever

possible the get-togethers were

planned as part of one of COCOA’s

open track weekends at Willow

Springs.When SAAC held conventions

at California Speedway, Shaw planned

a reunion there. Having a large num-

ber of cars – especially Cobras and

GT40s – provided an excellent back-

ground for the reunions, which con-

sisted of a lunch, plenty of social time,

the obligatory group picture and at-

tending SAAC’s dinner and evening

program. For the club, it meant having

a long list of potential guest speakers

to choose from. Other venues were also

used, such as a large car show at

Woodley Park in Los Angeles, Shelby’s

facility in Gardena or at the NHRA

Museum in Pomona. The once-a-year

event kept Shaw and Kretzschmar


Bob Shaw had attempted to fold

the 2015 reunion into the August

Monterey Motorsports Reunion at

Mazda Raceway. The 50th Anniver-

sary of the GT350 would be an obvious

tie-in. However, there were already a

lot of activities planned for the week-

end. The track had a large footprint

and massive crowds are always part of

the scene. Shaw quickly realized that

trying to insert a Shelby employee re-

union into this event, which would re-

quire a catered sit-down lunch for as

many as fifty or more geriatrics and

their spouses and families would be a

bridge too far.

He was lamenting his problem to

Drew Serb and lights went off over

both their heads simultaneously. Serb

was looking for some way to celebrate

the Cobra Experience’s first anniver-

sary and Shaw needed a place for the

17th reunion. The only pinch was that

the Cobra Experience was five hours

north of Los Angeles and all of the po-

tential reunion attendees were in their

70s and 80s. Expecting them to travel

to the event, deal with airlines and ho-

tels and everything else necessary

would surely restrict the number of

participants. That’s where the idea of

sponsors took hold. If Serb could wran-

gle people he knew to contribute to a

travel fund which would pay for air-

line tickets, hotels and transportation

he and Shaw were sure they would

have a full house.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The Shelby American alumni were

treated like royalty. A couple of vans

were contracted to pick people up at

the airport and take them directly to

the hotel. They were picked up at the

hotel and dropped off at the Cobra Ex-

perience for the Friday evening din-

ner. After dinner they were driven

back to the hotel. The following day

there was an open house at the Serb’s

homestead. Included was an open

house of Serb’s Cobra repair and

restoration facility, a huge building

that was just a short walk from his



Winter 2016 55

The cast steel welding table was originally used in the Lance Reventlow’s Scarab shop. When Shelby took over it stayed. It also

stayed with Butler ever since Shelby’s Torrance shop shut down. The blue tig welder is a 1964 Miller, which was used at Shelby

American. The trophy was presented to Ron Butler as race mechanic of the year in 1964..