GARDENA, Calif. – Long ago, when Ford was trying to prove the mettle and durability of its vehicles, they entered a race in which they drove two Model T’s from New York to Seattle in 1909. It was called the Ocean to Ocean Automobile Endurance Contest, as the race started at the Atlantic Ocean and ended at the Pacific. The event debuted Ford’s product to the world. Keen to celebrate its heritage, Ford is at it again, this time driving a Mustang Mach-E from coast to coast. Obviously, this isn’t a race anymore – nothing that would bring thoughts of Cannon Ball rallies; instead it is a country-wide tour where Ford can show off its hot, new EV Mustang crossover.
With Ford now selling more Mustang Mach-E’s than its piston-powered brothers, it’s important to get it out in the wild, and more importantly to introduce it to the Mustang’s and Ford’s avid fans. Owners flocked to the Ocean to Ocean Reimagined Tour’s L.A. Stop event at Shelby International’s Gardena location in Southern California. Held on the 30th of June, the event drew Ford fans of all kinds. Encouraged to bring their Ford cars, people came in droves, driving in modern Mustangs, old and new Shelby Mustangs, Ford Torino’s, Ford Trucks, Ford Model T’s, and customer-owned Mustang Mach-E’s.
The event’s proceedings were held in “The Snake Pit,” Shelby’s new lounge and bar area that used to be Carroll Shelby’s personal apartment. It’s a wide-open space, with a long refreshments bar and small tables dotted around the room. The Snake Pit’s interior’s doors and windows were open allowing visitors to walk to the outdoor patio. This was the scene for the speakers and attendees alike. Surrounded by walls covered with pictures and signed car parts that all told the story of the iconic Texan, Ford and Shelby representatives spoke to the crowd.
Speakers at the event were Shelby International Co-CEO Neil Cummings, Shelby International’s Vice President and International Director of Team Shelby, Tracey Smith, Ford Performance Enthusiast Marketing Manager, Kash Singh, Shelby International Media Relations Coordinator, Scott Black, and former Indy driver, Robbie Buhl, who spoke on the Mach-E and the Ocean to Ocean tour.
Cummings was the first speaker. He welcomed everyone to the Shelby facility and told them the history of the newly opened Snake Pit. He introduced them to the history that stood all around them before welcoming Ford’s speakers. Singh and Buhl, speaking for Ford and the Ocean to Ocean tour, laid out the progress of the tour. They covered the trip’s milestones and went through some of their past stops where they also held events at other locations where owners came out to celebrate. They then talked about Ford’s electrification plans, and how they see the Mach-E in both Ford’s lineup, as well as its inclusion into the greater Mustang owner community.
Singh highlighted the importance of Ford bringing in the Mach-E’s owners into the enthusiast community, as he asked questions of the Mach-E owners who were in the crowd. They both then fielded questions from the crowd before a question about Shelby’s involvement with the new EV brought Shelby representatives back to the microphone.
When asked about the inclusion of the Mach-E into Shelby’s overall plan Smith, Shelby International’s Vice President and President of Team Shelby, which is the enthusiast fan club of Shelby International, said, “Ultimately, Team Shelby is about experiencing the car and enjoying the community, and there is a new community coming with the Mach-E, and I drove one for the first time, at Shelby American, and I must say the performance surprised me – it’s amazing! It’s not always about the car with Team Shelby, it’s about the community, and that’s the same way with Shelby – it’s about the people, and people drive vehicles – and the performance. That was what Carroll’s quote about, ‘My favorite car was the next one.’ He always wanted to know what people thought of that car, and that’s when he launched Team Shelby in 2008 as a part of his 85th birthday, so he could talk to people and be a part of it. So, we’re going to continue. We support Ford and we’re so proud and excited about the new program and cars, and as Neil said, ‘Party On’.”
Black reiterated Smith’s statement saying, “Mach-E owners are welcome with open arms in Team Shelby, so be part of the community, please.”
Whether Shelby will dabble with its own Shelby variant of the Mach-E, Black responded coyly by saying, “We cannot confirm or deny, or speculate on future products,” which elicited laughs from the crowd. Despite not getting a yes, it would be exciting to see what Shelby American, based in Las Vegas, could do with the electric Mustang crossover. Since they now sell more trucks than Mustangs, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Shelby venturing into EVs.
With cocktail shrimp, kebabs on a stick, slider burgers and sushi being served, the crowd was fine-dined as they listened. Buhl spoke about his support of Ford’s Ocean to Ocean tour and the possibilities of the Mach-E.
The particular Mach-E that has traveled across the nation sat at the mouth of the entrance to The Snake Pit, surrounded by pictures of the greats – Dan Gurney, Dave MacDonald, Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Phil Remington; it was the car of honor. With a car show in front of it, and Shelby’s old apartment-turned-lounge behind it, it was welcomed in Southern California.
After the event, the next day the Ocean to Ocean event traveled on towards the finish of its journey, heading up the coast to Seattle. One thing was clear at the end of the event: The Mustang Mach-E has sparked a new community, while also being welcomed into some old and established ones.
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY BRETT TURNAGE