“The Mack Yates Cobra”
Among the experienced Corvette racers seduced by the Cobra in 1963 was Mack Yates. This Kirkwood, Mo., car dealer had done well with his Corvette that year, winning SCCA’s Midwest Division A Production Championship. In 1964, having seen the immense advantage that the Cobra held in the class, he won that title again, but in this car, CSX2385.
In April 1964, Yates ordered a new race Cobra from Shelby American. One of about 13 cars built to similar “USRRC” (U.S. Road Racing Championship) specifications, CSX2385 was fitted with cut-back doors, their trailing edges shaped to match the curves of the rear fenders, facilitating driver entry and exit. Mack’s car was completed in early May, and he must have been in a hurry to race his new toy, because on May 15th it was air-freighted via St. Louis to his dealership, Yates-Stevens Ford. Finished in white, with a black interior, it came with an extra windshield and 7-inch rear wheels. The final tab came to $9,285 for the car, modifications, and parts, plus $344 for airfreight.
Yates added black stripes, though that summer, after his first race, at Lake Garnett, Kans., he repainted the car in a Corvette blue. The car’s first win came that September in an SCCA Divisional at Wentzville, Mo. Yates once claimed that this Cobra was so reliable that it rarely even left the trailer between races. But in mid-season 1965, after an unexplained DNF at Mid-America Raceway in Wentzville, Mo., he sold CSX2385 to another SCCA racer, Al Goldman, who immediately scored A Production victories at Independence and Wichita in Kansas and at Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado. That November, Goldman trailered the car to Mexico for the grandly named but little known Gran Primo de Tijuana, where he came in second overall.
Yates must have missed his old 289. Sometime during late 1960s, he bought the car back from Goldman and began racing it again, campaigning it in the Midwest Division throughout the early 1970s. Photos from this era show both rear fenders severely cut away at the rear and an ugly body-width front spoiler tacked on below the radiator opening. Qualifying for the SCCA Runoffs in 1971 and 1974, Yates finished fifth in B Production both years.
By now, though, the car was getting old, and its driver was, too. Finally, both CSX2385 and Yates retired from competition. But old Cobras never seem to die. In the late 1990s, former Cobra racer and Ford dealer Dan Gerber – who had put racing completely behind him after a vicious crash in a GT350 at Riverside in 1966 – got the urge to drive again in vintage events. Gerber had found Mack’s CSX2385 and decided to restore it in its factory Team 289 USRRC configuration. Bill Murray did his usual excellent work, and the car is now a well-equipped vintage racer, complete with short windshield and fire system. Dan proudly took the finished product to that year’s Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca, where he drove to a first overall in his run group. Mack Yates would have been proud.
Text excerpted from “Shelby Cars in Detail, Cars of the Shelby American Collection” by Frank Barrett with photography by Boyd Jaynes. Find out how to obtain your own copy of this magnificent book at www.bullpublishing.com
Chassis Number: CSX2385
Horsepower: 385 hp
Displacement: 8-cylinder, 289 ci (4.7 L)