15 Eylül 2014 Pazartesi

Ollie the Dragon, the "Essex Wire" 1965 427 Shelby Competition AC Cobra, CSX 3009

Garageblog.com Shelby historian, Gary Faules says that the car has been missing for many years and is indeed the Cobra that has won more races than any other.

But, proving there are more opinions than facts, the guys at GTPlanet say CSX 3035 was the winningest. http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/threads/shelby-cobra-427-s-c-csx3035-1965.302618/

but yet another (CSX 2093) is also reputed to be the "winningest" by http://www.carbuzz.com/news/2014/3/6/For-Sale-1963-Shelby-Cobra-Dragonsnake-7719037/ and Mecum who was trying to sell it (the purple Dragonsnake)

But CSX 2473 is also written up as the "Winningest" http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z6749/Shelby-Cobra-289.aspx

And then of course, those aren't enough to claim the title, so CSX 2023 was also advertised for sale at auction as the "winningest" http://www.autoevolution.com/news/1963-shelby-289-cobra-auctioned-off-for-825k-photo-gallery-78788.html

The late Walter Probst, Essex Chairman of the Board, recalled that Essex responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to sponsor the Ford Racing Team. This was a means for promoting not only Ford's products, but also a host of specialized wires and wire assemblies produced by Essex. "It seemed a great way to share a promotional opportunity," Probst remembered, "and Paul O'Malley, Essex President, took the challenge and turned it into a winner for both Essex and Ford."

Fred Krammer, Essex Account Executive to Ford, was put in charge of the project and oversaw the purchase of the automobiles, their preparation for racing, and the recruitment of Team Essex.

To organize the Essex team, Krammer turned to Skip Scott. An outstanding 23-year-old driver from Paoli, Pennsylvania, Scott had been recognized as Rookie of the Year only a few months earlier. Scott had first worked with the Carroll Shelby racing organization in California. He apprenticed under Ken Miles, one of the finest race car drivers in the world and the second driver Shelby hired to test the new Cobra.

Dr. Dick Thompson, one of the first Essex drivers and a regular with the Shelby organization, noted that Scott "was a good businessman and a great promoter. He really put Essex and its machines on the world racing map."

1965, the first year of competition, was one of practice, teamwork development and learning about the machines. The company released announcements that it was sponsoring the team "in order to initiate an engineering and testing program for advanced electrical systems concepts."

The Team fondly called the snow white Cobra "Ollie the Dragon"; however, because the 427 had the scary habit of belching about two feet of flame through the intake on the hood. Team Leader Scott laughingly recalled that if you didn't keep throttling up, the big Weber downdraft carburetors would erupt in fire. Dick Thompson still remembers that the "Cobra was beautiful in the straightaway, but because it didn't have much in the way of brakes, it was always hairy in the turns."

The drivers of the Cobra in the 1965 circuit were first-rate and world class. Dr. Dick Thompson, a Washington, D.C. dentist was a semi-pro who drove some of Carroll Shelby's early Cobras. Not long after he was recruited by Skip Scott to drive for Essex, he drove the race at Riverside, California. Ed Lowther was another highly respected semi-pro who drove the Cobra throughout 1965. In the late '50s he drove Corvettes with Dick Thompson on the Gulf Oil team. As he won more races and his reputation grew, Skip Scott recruited him to race the Cobra with Dick Thompson in several key contests. Lowther fondly remembers the calm, professional teaching by Thompson. For Lowther, the formula for success in this Cobra was that everything was stock - no special designs or equipment - and this equipment, including the Essex Wire throughout, held up better than all the specialized gear.

Of course, abusing a car on a road racing track for a few hundred miles results in time on the repair track, even for a car with a racing pedigree as impressive as the Shelby Cobra.

By the end of the 1965 season these drivers had managed to win an overall national Fourth Place for Essex Wire in U.S. road racing competition, a remarkable feat for a team in its first year. Essex chose to move onto the International Grand Prix Circuit for 1966 with the new Ford GT40, abandoning the Cobra. The Essex team Cobra 427 was eventually sold to Ed Lowther, who went on to win numerous races, finishing first at Riverside and Daytona and winning a national championship in 1967. This particular Cobra, known affectionately as "Ollie the Dragon," was, in fact, the winningest Cobra ever made. (info from http://www.cobracountry.com/CCMkt-fotos/CCMkt-diecastcobra7b.html )

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