The 2011 London Cobra Show
With the opening of the London Cobra Show’s registration on Thursday evening, the world’s largest Cobra, Daytona Coupe and Ford GT40 replica event is well underway. One of the four host hotels, the Holiday Inn, being the newest home away from home in the block of Cobra Show host hotels, is where all could line up and get their registration packets. Redline Review began to see a symphony of rolling snakes under power, on the tarmac, being unloaded from enclosed hobby trailers and a growing number of Cobra caretakers, who appeared as though they had just arrived. Many may have looked a little road-weary, yet all were wearing smiles and excited to be part of a yearly gathering of friends and finely built hand built cars in late June.
We took a perambulated from the official 2011 Redline Review London Cobra Show host hotel and sauntered over to the Holiday Inn. Parked outside the entryway was the fastest Shelby Cobra 427SC in existence, Dick Smith’s 1966 Cobra. Racing enthusiasts will remember that Mr. Smith piloted his red Cobra at Daytona Speedway in 1967 and was officially timed at 198 miles per hour. Think of that feat, ladies and gentlemen. Dick Smith ran his brick in the wind Cobra, without benefit of any downforce bodywork, at 198 mph! Redline Review was standing right next to the fastest Cobra in history, a car that was raced by the winningest Shelby Cobra 427SC driver ever! How cool is that? For many Cobra fanatics, this is the greatest original Shelby Cobra 427SC in the world, the stratosphere, the universe, you name it. Having such an epic machine on hand for the 2011 London Cobra Show, we knew we were in for an all-time spectacular Cobra, Daytona Coupe and Ford GT40 replica weekend.
Though the skies were gray and threatening to downpour much of the day on Thursday, rain never came to the host hotel megaplex of Rome-Hilliard, scene to a decade’s worth of wonderful London Cobra Show events. Redline Review was regrettably not in attendance for the 2010 event. We covered the first ever Barrett-Jackson Automotive Auction in the OC in 2010 that very same weekend that the LCS 2010 took place.
When we heard that Heather Smith, Dick Smith’s widow, would be at the 2011 London Cobra Show with Dick’s road race rocket 427SC, and we discovered that racing pros Bob Bondurant and Alan Grant would also be special guests of the LCS in ’11, Redline Review couldn’t stay away. This year, we had two other conflicting events in Orange County, CA that we were supposed to cover, the 2nd annual Barrett-Jackson Auction in the OC and the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, held in Newport Beach’s Monarch Bay, CA. We hope that Barrett-Jackson and the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance will adjust their events, so we can cover all three of these automotive enthusiast spectacles next year.
The cloudy skies that held on all day Thursday made an unwelcome and ominous repeat visit on Friday morning, which is always the official start of the London Cobra Show. Redline Review’s crew inhaled a hasty and tasty breakfast at the CrackerBarrel Restaurant, which is conveniently located right behind the LCS gaggle of host hotels, and decided our game plan for what cruise we would partake in and cover. Despite the heavily overcast skies, we opted to go on the Hocking Hills Cruise. After taking a look at all the available activities set for Friday, one could come to the conclusion that Redline Review would be getting extremely wet in Cobra roadster replicas during the Hocking Hills Cruise. What one may not know is how enthusiastic and optimistic thinking the Redline Review crew is all the time. We had some illogical thinking that we would somehow not be rain-dumped upon during the cruise. Somehow, we were right.
We know that other parts of Ohio where LCS activities were occuring, participants were treated to a real Ohio deluge of a downpour. Yet, the Cobra replica gods shined well upon the dozen or so intrepid Hocking Hills Cobra pilots, with only a few little wimpy instances of the wet stuff sporadically blowing beyond the Cobra caretakers open cockpits. Those crafty drivers carved the beautifully green and windy roads leading to Hocking Hills with expert aplomb. Redline Review’s ace photographer road with a young man named Dan. Dan has a copper hued Factory Five Racing C. car replica that he has built to be very roadworthy, reliable and beautiful. During much of the cruise, RR’s Ben Moment could be seen shooting some stunning road action shots with the no doubt spectacular Ohio country landscapes blurring by in the background. Your humble scribe had the non-enviable task of chasing these sensuous four-wheeled snakes in the ace photographer’s daily driven Honda Civic. The word snore comes to mind, but I digress.
The second stop in our scenic journey came at these way cool caves. We had a little half-mile nature walk, which could have been longer and more arduous, but the snake pilots wanted to do some slithering all about the Hocking Hills countryside. So, we mounted up our four-wheeled reptiles and the daily-driven urban assault appliance, and headed for lunch.
Redline Review had the brilliant idea to go ahead of the Cobra caravan, in an effort to capture the replicas driving into the MillStone BBQ parking lot. What RR’s ace photographer didn’t realize was that his Honda’s GPS wouldn’t be able to find the remote restaurant in the software’s bits and bytes. After he so adroitly got us lost, we resorted to the Google Maps printed hard copy that one of the more knowledgeable LCS participants gave us seconds before we raced ahead, ‘er behind.
By the time RR drove onto the scene at MillStone, there were several Cobras already parked. However, several other caravaners also became lost, which made us just fashionably late by comparison. The RR crew was still full from breakfast, although the prospect of passing up on some Ohio BBQ was too much to resist. We chowed down on some great food and did a fair amount of bench racing with our Cobra caretaker compadres.
In the hopes of doing a full feature shoot in magic light with Dick and Heather Smith’s #198 Shelby Cobra, circa 1966, RR raced back to our host hotel. We called Mark Dougherty, Heather’s trusted driver of the mega famous and oh-my-goodness expensive original world record holding #198 Cobra during the LCS event, but where he was driving, the rain was pouring.
We arrived back in Rome-Hilliard and whiled away the afternoon working on www.RedlineReview.com, where It’s All About Speed. Meanwhile, all the LCS 2011 party goers made haste in their reptile replicas to Quaker Steak Lube & Tune and did some more hearty eating and healthy imbibing. Though we weren’t on hand to capture the moment, we’re sure many more replica building and Cobra driving/racing stories were traded back and forth.
Scheduled at 8 p.m. on Friday, but actually taking place from 9:15 p.m. on, world famous Cobra, Daytona Coupe and Ford GT40 pilots of the 1960s, Bob Bondurant and Alan Grant held a captivating roundtable discussion on how it was to race and work at Shelby American back in the day. All who attended came away from the experience in awe, as RR knew they would. These gentlemen, Messrs. Grant and Bondurant, are as nice and humble and accomplished a pair of talented racecar drivers that you’ll ever meet. They achieved so much in their careers, yet they’re enthusiastic auto racing and automotive enthusiasts just like any of us, with one huge exception, they can drive and race like few on this planet have been able to do. Thank you Messrs. Bondurant and Grant for being such a huge part of the 2011 London Cobra Show!
After such an interesting question and answer session with these two racing gods, RR didn’t believe that LCS show Saturday could top our marvelous Friday. We were wrong. All of the Cobra pilots awoke to a perfect day, in terms of a warm sun and a constant cooling breeze. Heather’s Dick Smith and their son Kyle were indeed both smiling down upon us all the entire day that we celebrated in the streets of London, Ohio.
As per usual, all of the Type 65, GT40 and Cobra replica caretakers arrived on the scene at Speedway Motors to line-up for the rolling/running reptile parade into London. The London Police Dept. in collaboration with the Ohio Cobra Club, orchestrates this splendid start to the LCS. Heather Smith and Mark Dougherty led the impressive contingent of Cobras in Dick Smith’s fire-breathing and Daytona Speedway conquering 1966 #198 Shelby Cobra 427SC, starting at 9 am.
Not long thereafter a thunderous mass of beauteous hued serpents took over London. The London Fire Department, the London Police Department and the Ohio Cobra Club members got all the replicas parked along the primary thoroughfares of downtown London. A bit later in the day, C. car replica owners gave London Cobra Show spectators 1/8-mile rides down Main Street for $10 a ride, with all of the proceeds going to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
RR always takes thousands of photos, whenever we’re at any event and especially the London Cobra Show. We also visited with all of the replica manufacturers on Vendors Row. Factory Five Racing had one of its 18-wheelers as the backdrop for its display, which included a FFR Mk4 C. car Roadster, a Mk4 completed chassis and a Type 65 Coupe. Dave Smith, FFR’s most charismatic and articulate President and Co-owner/Co-founder was at the FFR display the entire show day. He also had a select crew of FFR teammates to help him in talking to the crowd of Factory Five Racing fans, owners and prospects. Dave also brought his three daughter’s Madison, Jennifer and Nicole. We imagine that these three Smith girls know the value of hard work, given the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Dave Smith are raising them and their little brother, who stayed at home with his mom. Indeed, we heard Dave encourage his daughters to answer questions of the many Factory Five Racing enthusiasts who visited the FFR display and to pass out FFR brochure and DVD packs. Who knows? The young Smith ladies may be poised to take over the reigns of Factory Five Racing any day now, what with the astute mentoring from their dad.
Another venerable Cobra replica manufacturer, Unique Motorcars of Gadsen, AL made its first appearance at the London Cobra Show this year. We visited quite a bit with Maurice Weaver, the older brother of the Weaver family that founded the first Cobra replica manufacturer in 1977. Given the amount of traffic around the Unique Motorcars display all day on Saturday, Redline Review would guess that Maurice was pleased at how well the LCS went for his company.
Of course, Backdraft Racing has been displaying at the London Cobra Show for several years now. We chatted with father and son Frank and Regg Dodd and traded stories with Backdraft’s ace of many jobs, Bill Putman, before moving on to check out the goings on at Hurricane.
No sooner did we get to the Hurricane Motorsports exhibit did we see good buddy Dean Lampe. Dean has built, owned, raced and sold a number of captivating replicas over the years, including his first Hurricane Cobra roadster, a Kirkham Motorsports 289FIA replica that is one of the current slide’s on the RR front page, a Race Car Replicas Ford GT40 Mk1A replica and now a jet black Hurricane Motorsports 427SC replica. Dean’s current Hurricane graced the LCS display. Dean re-introduced RR to Steve Sinnard, Hurricane’s executive vice president. We exchanged pleasantries and wished the Hurricane Motorsports team a successful London Cobra Show.
Many Cobra replica enthusiasts feel that Superformance provides a very nice turnkey minus car. The company had its 18-wheeler and an impressive display of Cobra replicas for all to admire and ponder a potential future purchase.
Especially if we’re planning to do some feature story photo shoots, the London Cobra Show on Saturday never has enough hours to get all our work completed and fun finished. The RR crew broke away early from the event to go grab some top secret feature photowork, which will be gracing the RR cybersphere soon. We promise you’ll swoon over what we shot, RR’ers.
In fact, we took so many feature photos, we didn’t have time to take a shower before the big London Cobra Show banquet, which made its official start at 6 p.m. sharp. We arrived at the banquet dinner a somewhat tardy 6:45 p.m., but still managed to partake in some tasty genuine Ohio BBQ. The Redline Review crew contributed to the eliminate Cystic Fibrosis coffers by purchasing several Factory Five Racing Mk4 Roadster raffle tickets, especially since said Mk4 was a replica of Heather and Dick Smith’s 1966 #198 Shelby Cobra 427SC. One of us also took a chance on the half and half pot, which would have earned us $454 and the CF fund the same amount. Oh well, maybe next year.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the 2011 London Cobra Show was a spectacular success. In an effort to raise more money than ever before for the eradication of Cystic Fibrosis, the Ohio Cobra Club used out of the box thinking. They invited Heather Smith, with she and her late husband’s #198 Dick Smith 1966 Cobra racecar. Shelby American racing legends Bob Bondurant and Alan Grant played a huge part in the LCS festivities. Factory Five Racing, Dave Smith, his daughters and his crew came through with a delicious FFR Mk4 Roadster, which the Ohio Cobra Club built into a stunning replica of #198 and a record setting LCS raffle car. And the money raised for Cystic Fibrosis research and elimination came to a breathtaking $100,000 and counting. Congratulations to the Ohio Cobra Club! Kudos to Heather and Dick Smith, with world famous #198! A huge thumbs up to Messrs. Bondurant and Grant. Hearty thanks to all the replica manufacturers and automotive companies that comprised Vendor’s Row, with a special thanks to Dave Smith, his daughters and the Factory Five Racing crew for providing the basis of what became a most spectacular re-creation of #198 and has now set a great record of its own as the London Cobra Show Cystic Fibrosis raffle car. And of course, we appreciate all of the LCS 2011 participants and spectators, who made the show the grand slam home run that it was in ’11!
Please enjoy all the following photos from the 2011 London Cobra Show and rest assured that the Ohio Cobra Club and everyone from London and Rome-Hilliard, Ohio would like to invite you to next year’s event, held in the latter part of June. Check here and on www.LondonCobraShow.com for information on next year’s LCS 2012.
On registration day Thursday, there were plenty of Ohio Cobra Club members assisting participants with all the little things like where to park, when to pick up registration packets, etc. The OCC is a well-oiled machine, when it comes to producing the London Cobra Show.
Putting your Cobra to bed before the big show so it can get some rest is a good idea.