One of auto racing’s tried and true car names, Orange Blossom Special, originated with Seaboard Airline Railroad’s fast and luxurious passenger trains connecting New York City through several rail lines to Palm Beach, Florida, eventually extending to Miami. american-rails.com states from 1927 through 1953, excepting a short WWII break, one of the period’s rail fastest and plushest trains opened up Florida’s warm climate to freezing northerners each winter.
Eccentric musician Ervin Rouse in 1938 wrote Orange Blossom Special creating what’s become violin (fiddle playing) musicians’ must know song of the same name. In 1965, Johnny Cash latched on OBS and, with help from more modern communication, concerts and radio play, popularized lyrics describing a lost love returning from a distant journey, created an acclaimed album bearing the same name.
In 1965 Shelby American pinned their iconic GT-350 name to Ford’s runaway hit Mustang performance/sports car. Interesting a train known for performance leant its name to a particular American muscle car known for same. Other cars, mostly Fords, borrowed the name in both high and low profile racing events, but none bore it as well and as proudly as Danny Moore’s Shelby GT-350.
The first modern Orange Blossom Special originated with Dallas’ Danny Moore transforming his street ’65 GT-350 into the most raced GT-350 ever, according to current owner Forrest. Campaigned 8 to 10 races per year from 1968 through 1971, and many races beyond, Moore piloted Orange Blossom Special in over 100 events including appearances 1970, ’72 &’74 Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring’s ’73 12 Hour, and several Mid Ohio 6 hours.
Pulling OBS out of retirement, Forrest tells me he’s owned this GT-350 (SAAC 5S-307) more than 4 years. It spent its 1st 3 of his ownership under restoration in Yukon, OK, with Greg Reynolds and many of the same guys responsible for its original 1960’s race preps.
A beautiful Friday, August 14th and an unusually hot Saturday, August 15th, 2015, brought Forrest’s and 35 other registered Shelby GT-350s from locations around the world and across the US to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Rolex’ Motorsports Reunion’s annual vintage racing celebration. Many bore familiar white bodied blue striped livery. One stood out, brilliant orange, still featuring Moore’s RAM Racing moniker. I don’t know how many GT-350’s started Group 3A’s race that morning but it might as well have been all of them. That many racing icons pounding out RPM’s and dbs nearly piercing my hearing protection may never happen again. Inspiring fails its description. Maybe orgasmic suits better.
Forrest tells me he race preps his cars himself and 2015’s Motorsports reunion only its 2nd race after Sonoma earlier in that year. Powered by a well experienced 289 engine bearing GT-40 heads, Forrest placed Orange Blossom Special back out on the track where it was meant to be. Speed and history….. with a dash of Orange….. make a great weekend long cocktail.
See you at the track.