Text by Ron Bramlett
Photos by Ron Bramlett and Head-On Photos
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Well, another Mini Nats has come and gone. If you missed Mini Nats XXVI, you really missed out on a good time! If you're not sure what Mini Nats is, let me refresh your memory. Each year, beginning in 1976, the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) holds their annual show and get together for everyone who is interested in or has a Shelby car. This includes Cobras, Tigers, GT40s, Shelby Mustangs and the new Shelby's that are being cranked out of Shelby American in Las Vegas as you read this. The only problem is that most years, the SAAC Convention is held east of the Mississippi so those Shelby enthusiast on the west coast have trouble attending. Or at least taking their cars with them. You can fly in and enjoy the convention, but not having your car there, Shelby or not, is not nearly as much fun as having it there. So, in 1983, the Northern California chapter of SAAC decided that they would have a SAAC Convention on the west coast. Since it was sure to be a smaller convention than SAAC's National Convention, it was called the Mini National Convention. The name was shortened to Mini Nats soon after and that's been the events name ever since!
In the beginning, the vast majority of cars attending the SAAC Convention and Mini Nats were a Shelby automobile of some sort. But over the years, both the SAAC Convention and Mini Nats has become an event for all high performance Fords with the Shelbys being the Featured Cars of the event. So when you come to Mini Nats, you see all kinds of fast Fords including the cream of the crop, Shelbys. This year was no different.
The famous one-off "Flip Top Cobra" was the featured Shelby and the t-shirt car for Mini Nats XXVI. There was only one of this model made at Shelby by Ken Miles before he was tragically kiled in 1966. It is a very special Shelby indeed!
Mini Nats XXVI was held at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California. This was the 26th annual Mini Nats and it was a terrific event! As I've said so many times before, it's one thing to see a car, any car, at a car show on display. But, it's quite another to actually be able to see it flying around the track at speed! You not only get to see it doing what it was designed and built for, you get to hear it, smell it and sometimes even ride in it! Quite a thrill, as you can imagine!
A very good example of this is the "Flip Top Cobra". which is a one-off Shelby Cobra that was built by Ken Miles. Anyone who knows anything about Shelby history knows that Ken Miles was a real big part of the Shelby team. The Flip Top is a very special Shelby as Ken was killed in August, 1966 while testing a racecar. His work on this Shelby, plus the fact that it has a really cool racing history, makes it rolling museum piece!
It was only fitting that the Flip Top was the t-shirt Shelby for Mini Nats XXVI. It is presently owned by Rich Mason of Nevada. Bill Faull, our Store Manager here at Mustangs Plus, was very lucky to score a ride in the Flip Top and said it was awesome! But, more on that later. Let me go ahead now give you a little recap of Mini Nats XXVI!
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