Mark Waco, 1966-1967
Initially, Mark Waco worked at Shelby's Goodyear tire division, where he mounted tires at the races and for the GT350 Mustangs. With his frequent trips into the production shop with Blue Dots, he got to know many of the production guys and ended up switching to the line. "I was tired of mounting tires," he says.
It was mid-1966, so he started working as the last of the '66 GT350s were being built. "It was pretty basic because they didn't do as much of a conversion as they did on the '65s and early '66s, as far as suspension relocation and things like that. I was on a lot of different stations. I think I started out putting on the sidescoops, valve covers, and emblems. I moved around somewhat. I also took the cars off the line and drove them around the perimeter to test them.
"On the '67s, we had the scoops and such to put on. Most of it was emblems and valve covers and stuff like that. One thing I did on the '67s was the superchargers. I was assigned to that for Mustangs and Cobras. There weren't that many of them. I worked with Vincent Granatelli at Paxton. Most of them were done in the race hangar after the cars came off the line.
"I was enjoying myself. I was 22 and had just gotten married. I wasn't making much money but I didn't know any better. Looking back, I think I appreciate it more now than I did at the time. I don't think anybody back then realized the lasting effect the cars would have.
"When they vacated the LAX facility and moved to Torrance, I went to work for a Lincoln-Mercury dealer who sponsored a race car for me. I ran a B-production GT350 and won a regional championship with it. I sold cars for five months, then got into Trans-Am with American Racing Associates."
Lew Spencer, 1965-1969
Lew Spencer was working for a Morgan and A.C. distributor in 1961 when Carroll Shelby called to ask for a price on an A.C. rolling chassis. They met at a local restaurant. Lew gave Shelby a price and Shelby divulged his plans to drop a small-block Ford engine into the little sports car. "I can still see him walking away down the sidewalk," Lew says. "I said to myself, `There's no way he can put that deal together.' But of course he did."
Lew ended up driving for Shelby in 1963, then opened Hi-Performance Motors with Shelby, Al Dowd, Tom Reese, and Peyton Cramer. "It was called Carroll Shelby and Lew Spencer's Hi-Performance Motors. I don't remember the date when that started, but we closed it in September 1965, and I went to work at Shelby American. Hi-Performance Motors still existed after that but it was just shop maintenance. At Hi-Performance Motors, we thought we could sell some Cobras and GT350s. But Ford came along and said, `You can't sell GT350s; they can only be sold from an approved list of Ford dealers.' So, basically, that shot everything down."
When Lew officially became a Shelby American employee, he was hired as the Competition Sales Manager. "Part of it was getting rid of the cars that came back from team use in Europe. There was nothing more worthless than a year-old race car with no place to race. I laugh about that now because we had the six Daytona Coupes and had to beg people to buy them for $5,000." (Editor's note: Today, the Daytona Coupes are valued in the millions).
Competition Sales also assisted racers. "We helped people racing Shelby and Ford cars. We did mechanical bulletins and got them parts. In some cases, we gave them free parts, depending on how successful they were. And we made payments to them based on their finishing positions, both GT350 and Cobra. Then it was decided that there should be a Trans-Am car. Chuck Cantwell was the project manager for the GT350 and developed both the R-model and the Trans-Am car."