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When the vintage racers hit the track for the 2008 Kohler International Challenge at Road America this weekend, the Shelby Automobiles Racing Team will be officially represented for the first time since the late 1960s. Ford is one of the event sponsors and is backing the Shelby effort, which will field four CSX4000 Shelby 427 Cobras in the event. To hear Carroll Shelby tell it, there's probably more to come. In Ford's official announcement (pasted after the jump), Shelby is quoted as saying, "My goal is to return us to professional racing and this is just the beginning." Does that mean we'll be seeing factory-backed Shelby Mustangs in other racing series as well? Who knows. Still, it's kinda cool that the team's official return is at a vintage event, driving brand-new continuation-series cars like the ones that started this whole thing way back when.
Related GalleryVintage Shelby racing photos
[Source: Ford / Shelby Autos]
Ford Motor Company to Help Shelby Autos Return to Racing with Road America Team
- Ford's sponsorship of the 2008 Kohler International Challenge made it possible for the Shelby Automobiles Racing Team to return.
- The team will be assembled under the direction of Carroll Shelby and is the foundation for a new racing program.
- This is the first time since 1969 that an official Shelby factory racing team will be fielded.
- Shelby Automobiles continues to manufacture authentic Cobras.
"Ford and Shelby made racing history once, so it's very exciting to come full circle again," said Carroll Shelby. "Now we're going to make history again together. My goal is to return us to professional racing and this is just the beginning."
The Kohler International Challenge with Brian Redman is one of the largest vintage gatherings in the USA with over 30 classes of cars in ten groups. Sanctioned by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, the event features vintage race cars competing on Road America, the world's fastest permanent road course. Tom Barnard, Vincent Dean, AC and Tim Korzen will pilot four CSX4000 427 Cobras in Group 10.
"The partnership between Ford and Shelby put the blue oval in the winners circle in everything from SCCA races to LeMans," said Robert Parker, manager of Ford Car Marketing. "We're proud to sponsor the Shelby team for the Road America Races and look forward to participating side by side with our fans and consumers."
Shelby cars dominated the racing scene during the 1960's through its own efforts or factory support of private teams. The 289 and 427 Cobras won road racing and drag racing championships worldwide while Ford Shelby Mustangs trounced sedan teams under the Shelby banner.
"It was never a matter of if, but when Shelby would make it back to the track," added Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles. "Thanks to our relationship with Ford, we're evaluating all of our options for a racing program. I look forward to bringing home championships again."
Carroll Shelby, one of America's greatest race car drivers, dominated sports car racing in the mid-1950s. His crowning achievement as a driver came in 1959, when he won the 24 hours of Le Mans. Upon retiring from racing, Shelby forged a relationship with Ford and founded Shelby American to create the Cobra sports car. Today his company, Shelby Automobiles, continues to build the Cobra as a component vehicle in the 289 street car, FIA and 427 S/C models.