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Shelby Celebrates the King this Weekend

Published in blog.hemmings.com

The Shelby GT500 KR’s 50th birthday? It’s as good an excuse as any to put on a movie night and car show at Carroll Shelby International in California this Friday and Saturday.

According to organizers of the Shelby Los Angeles Weekend bash, May 18-19 (19021 S. Figueroa Street in Gardena), the event will kick off with a free screening of Bullitt at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. Attendees will also get a look at the 2019 Bullitt-edition Ford Mustang as part of a Bullitt-Mustang-themed car display. San Pedro-based classic rock band In Contempt will be performing covers of songs by The Temptations, The Four Tops, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Santana, and more. Since it’s Los Angeles, there will be food trucks on the grounds as well as trivia games, live fund-raiser auctions, and more.

On Saturday, the Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show will run from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Spectator admission is free, but car show entrants will be charged a $50 registration fee that will benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation. (The foundation will be making a donation that day to The Eli Home, a nonprofit organization devoted to the prevention of child abuse and family violence.) Shelby’s GT500 KR will be a star of the event, but organizers have a lot in store including: a panel discussion and autograph session with several original Shelby American employees; a display of Shelby and Ford heritage cars covering the last 50 years; a rev-your-engine salute to the late Carroll Shelby at 2 p.m.; a sneak peek at two all-new vehicles in the pipeline from Shelby American (plus a showcase of the cars and trucks currently in their line-up); live music; and more.

Shelby ad from OldCarBrochures.com.

The KR “King of the Road” Shelby GT500 was a ’68 model-year addition that replaced the GT500. It’s sovereignty over the asphalt plains came from the new 428 Cobra Jet, which Kurt recently did a nice job describing.

As Shelby told it, the KR moniker came about by happenstance and he applied it to his CJ-powered GT500 as a jab at arch-rival Chevrolet.  Just prior to the introduction of the 2008 G.T. 500 KR at the New York International Auto Show in 2007, Shelby spun this yarn (one of his greatest hits of tales) for the crowd:

I had a meeting with [Lee] Iacocca, and he said, ‘Chevrolet’s coming out with a Corvette King of the Road, they’ve got the brochures, they’re going to announce it in two weeks.’ I said, ‘Gosh, that’s a name that I always wanted.’”

Shelby said he immediately called his lawyer who specialized in trademarks and trade dress protection to find out if the title “King of the Road” had been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Shelby’s lawyer said, “I’ll find out and call you back tomorrow morning.” To which Shelby responded, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted an answer more quickly.

“I said, ‘There will be another lawyer on it if you don’t call me back in an hour.’ He called me back and said, ‘It’s not taken.’ I said, ‘Okay then; we’re going to call them G.T. 500 KRs, King of the Road.'”

If you’re interested in reading about the particulars of the KR compared to the standard GT500, take a ride in the wayback machine to 2014 when Terry McGean wrote a blog post addressing that very topic.

If you’re interested in taking part in Shelby Los Angeles Weekend, for information and contacts go to carrollshelbytribute.com.