Car enthusiasts may want to get in gear and head over to the Santa Monica Pier from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, September 6th, for the Los Angeles Shelby American Auto Club’s fourth annual Tony Sousa Memorial Car Show.
Held on the east end of the pier, the show is dedicated to the memory of Tony Sousa, an “enthusiast with everything related to Carroll Shelby,” says Randy Richardson, a member of the club. Featured cars include various classic Mustangs, as well as newer models belonging to club members. Shelby American also will be showing a 2008 Terlingua Shelby Mustang GT, which will be raffled off at the end of September.
The guest of honor at the show will be Peter Miles, son of Ken Miles, a well-known race car driver and engineer who first came to Southern California in 1952, racing an MG-TD and his own MG Special, Richardson says.
Miles’ subsequent developments continued to advance the racing culture in Southern California, from building the “Flying Shingle,” which was “the most exciting special ever to appear in West Coast racing up until that time,” to becoming president of California Sports Car Club in the 1950s, Richardson says.
When Miles joined Shelby American in 1963, he used his engineering and mechanical skills to put the Shelby Cobra on the winners podium. Miles’ advancements improved the Shelby Daytona Coupe, Mustang GT 350, Ford GT 40 and Mark II.
In 1966 he went on to win the 24-hour Daytona race with Lloyd Ruby in February, the 12-hour Sebring Enduro in March, as well as the 24-hour Le Mans with Dennis Hulme in June. Miles was killed testing a Ford “J” car on August 17th, 1966 at Riverside Raceway.
Peter Miles is currently the executive administrator of vintage car aficionado Chip Conner’s collection, which is rumored to be valued at somewhere over $80 million.
Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club began 17 years ago with a core group of Shelby auto owners, Richardson says. He, Mario Velti, Steve Beck, Greg Barberi, Manny Samaniego and Keith Kaucher met through a Shelby and Cobra owners club, and they decided to break off to form a separate Los Angeles chapter of Shelby American. The group meets once a month to organize events such as racing at Willow Springs International Raceway, a toy fundraiser, and the annual car show.
“We have a large group of recent enthusiasts because Carroll Shelby is regenerating the interest in the cars with the new Shelbys,” Richardson says. “Early on, the Shelby Mustangs and Cobras weren’t considered collectible or designer-type cars, but with the effort of organizations like the national Shelby auto club, the recognition developed and generations became aware of the significance.”
Most of the members of the auto club have owned their cars for many years, having been aware of the significance of the cars from the ’60s and ’70s racing scene, and what the Shelby Mustangs represented in that era.
“It represented the SoCal hot-rodder when they built those cars,” Richardson says. “These were not race car mechanics or engineers but SoCal hot-rodders that Shelby got together with and developed a successful race car heritage with.
“Ken Miles was one of the instrumental individuals that made that happen and that’s why we’re very happy to honor his son Pe-ter, in order for us to honor Ken.”
Awards will be given out around 2 p.m. for the best of show, as well as separate awards for different categories.