Jim Click — Cobra Crazy

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 12/2011
  • posted in: Great Garages

Jim Click clicks with Cobras.

Jim, who owns Tucson-based Jim Click Automotive Team with cousin Bob Tuttle, is a well-known collector of vintage CSXs, GT-40s and Ford Shelbys.

Actively involved in racing, he’s friendly with and has worked closely with a number of notable drivers, including Don Roberts, who in November 1968 won the Sports Car Club of America “American Road Race of Champions” at Riverside International Raceway. Don, who started racing a CSX2473 in 1966, now owned by Jim, was inducted into the Arizona Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jim has also been friendly for 20 years with Bob Bondurant, owner of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing in Phoenix, himself a legend for Cobra victories, including his 1965 FIA World Manufacturers Championship victory in Shelby Cobra 289 Roadsters and Daytona Coupes.

He’s taken some 20 courses at the world-famous school during the last two decades, and Bondurant instructor Mike McGovern drives for the Jim Click Automotive Team.

“I first met Jim 19 years ago when he came through my School for a Grand Prix Road Racing Class,” Bob says. “Since then, he has become a great race driver and a true friend. We all here at Bondurant School support all the charity work that Jim has contributed to the state of Arizona and wish him nothing but the very best. And, I want to thank him for letting me drive a few laps in his GT-40.”

A Paul’s Valley, Okla., native, Jim is a third-generation car dealer. Grandfather Bert sold Chryslers and Plymouths in Shawnee, and his dad, Jim Click Sr., sold Chevrolets in Altus. Jim learned quickly, drag-racing in high school. “I had a Chevy 409 that ran 108 mph at 13.6 — pretty quick back then,” he recalls.

He’s a graduate of Oklahoma State University, was captain of the OSU Cowboy football team and is a member of the university’s Hall of Fame. After graduating, he worked for his great uncle, Holmes Tuttle, at his Ford dealership in Los Angeles, then in 1971 opened his first dealership in Tucson.

In 1992, Jim talked with Don about preparing and maintaining his vintage cars at a car race they both attended. At the time, Jim’s cars were a Cobra CSX2326 and a 1966 Shelby GT-350. Don agreed, and the 20-year racing friendship began. “Jim was a novice at driving, so I also coached him in his driving,” he says.

Jim’s stable has grown to include a Ford GT-40, a Boss 302 Trans-Am Mustang, a 1966 GT-350 and a Shelby Cobra. Up until Don’s racing retirement five years ago to concentrate on ensuring Jim’s cars were top notch, he also raced the Cobra, the GT-350 and the GT-40 in the vintage races. “This relationship with Jim has resulted in not only fun competition on the track but even more fun off the track,” Don says.

This month, Jim is sharing his fun with us, hosted by Bob and Pat Bondurant at the racing school in Phoenix, where Bob did, in fact, turn hot laps in the GT-40:

•Cobra CSX2326 — “I purchased this as a street Cobra; it was converted to vintage racing in 1992. The engine is a small-block Ford (302 cid), with Goodyear Blue Streak vintage racing tires (treaded). It outputs 425 horsepower through a Holley four-barrel.

“Cobra FIA bodywork has been added to the rear, with FIA brakes. Don Roberts did this and built the engines. This car has raced at Road Atlanta, Road America, Seattle International Raceway, Portland International Raceway, Phoenix International Raceway, Firebird International Raceway, Willow Springs Raceway, Laguna Seca Raceway, Sears Point Raceway and such street courses as Tustin, Calif., Palm Springs, Calif., Coronado Historics on North Island Naval Base and the Los Angeles Grand Prix.”

•Cobra CSX2473 — “I purchased this at the RM Auction in Monterey in 2006. It won the 1968 SCCA B/Production National Championship in 1968 at Riverside International Raceway, with Don [Roberts] preparing and racing it. It is the only Cobra to ever win the national championship in that class.

“Don sold the car in 1969, repurchased it in 1972 and raced it in SCCA competition in 1972 and 1973 at Road Atlanta, finishing second in class both years behind Chevrolet factory-backed Corvettes. He sold it in 1974 and repurchased it again in a partnership in 1980. He raced it in the 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983 Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca, finishing first overall in the Big Bore group in all four years.

“It sold in 1984, when it went to England. Then, it was bought in 1987 by George Stauffer of Stauffer Classics in Blue Mounds, Wis. George sold it in 1996 to Don Lee in California, who raced it in vintage races until he placed it in the RM Auction in 2006.

“This car has been designated by the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) as “The Winningest Cobra.” It has a small-block Ford engine, T-10 transmission, Goodyear Blue Streak vintage racing tires. And, it has the 425-horse engine with a Holley four-barrel.”

•Chassis #1061 Ford GT-40 — Jim purchased it in 1993 from Bib Stilwell of Tucson. It was originally a street car and was sold in the mid-1960s by Paradise Ford in Scottsdale. The car eventually ended up in Australia with Bib as the owner. He brought it to Tucson where he was head of Lear Jet and converted it to vintage racing, with John Horsman and John Weir as his crew. Both Johns were involved with the Ford GT-40 Gulf cars with the Ford Motor Company.

“Bib had the Gulf bodywork installed on the rear of this GT-40. He won the 1989 20th anniversary reunion of the GT-40 at Watkins Glen. Then, “1061” placed second in the 25th anniversary reunion of the GT-40 at Road America, with Don [Roberts] driving. He was second to world-renown driver Brian Redman, who was driving a GT-40 for which Don built the engine. (So, Don actually got first and second!).

“It has Avon treaded racing tires, a ZF transaxle, a Ford 302-cid engine, 475 horsepower and four Weber 48 IDA carburetors.”

•1966 Shelby GT-350 — “I purchased it in 2003 from Jere Clark in Phoenix. It has a 302-cid Ford small-block engine and a T-10 transmission and is painted a unique red, white and dark blue, as per the Ford factory Boss 302 race cars in the late 1960s.

“The car was originally purchased at Paradise Ford by Jerry and Kathy Stewart, now crew members for Jim Click Racing, then sold to Jim Emert in 1969, who had Don [Roberts] drive it for him. Jim decided he liked the paint scheme on the Bud Moore Boss 302s and had the Shelby painted with that paint scheme.

“Don raced the GT-350 in 1970 and 1971, finishing fourth overall at the SCCA National Championship events at Road Atlanta, against the factory Corvettes and a Cobra. The car was sold to John Goodson in Florida in 1973 and purchased by Jere Clark in 1983, who converted it to vintage racing. Goodson had raced IMSA with it before parking it in a weed-infested lot, where Jere found it. It won first overall in the 1988 Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca.”

•1970 Boss 302 Trans-Am — “I purchased it in 2003 from Brian Mimaki of California, who had been vintage racing it prior to this time. It has a Boss 302 engine with 500 horsepower with a Ford top-loader transmission and runs on Goodyear Blue Streak treaded vintage racing tires.

“I won the Trans-Am race at the Coronado vintage race in 2009 in it. This car was a Shelby factory Trans-Am car and has been driven by Peter Revson and Sam Posey. Posey won the Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Conn., in 1969. Ford pulled the plug on Shelby in 1970, and the car was sent to Bud Moore as a back-up/test car. It is one of only two Shelby-campaigned cars that have ever existed.”

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