Shelbyfest brings smiles and Mustangs to Jefferson City
JEFFERSON CITY — Over 25,000 people and 700 cars gathered in downtown Jefferson City Saturday for the 11th annual Shelbyfest, an all Mustang car rally.
Shelbyfest, founded by Kyle Caraway in 2006, started as an informal gathering of seven men who wanted to get to know each other and their 2007 Shelby GT500 Mustangs.
"It was really just meant to be a casual gathering for us to come together and geek out over each other's cars," Caraway said.
Caraway decided to expand the show the following year. The first official Shelbyfest occurred in 2007, which drew in 26 cars from five states. Caraway said it was an instant success.
"They all said, 'we're doing this again next year right?' and without hesitation I said 'sure' and here we are 11 years later," Caraway said.
This is only Shelbyfest's third year in Jefferson City, moving from Hermann, Missouri after the rally continued to gain popularity.
"We needed additional infrastructure to provide things like Autocross, add additional attractions to the show," Caraway said.
Autocross is a performance and precision driving exercise, spending time with instructors so people who own high power Mustangs can be better drivers.
"BFGoodrich brought a team of instructors from the Evolution Performance Driving School, so we had regimented instruction... they took things to the next level," Caraway said.
People like Jeff Krieger, an accountant with Krieger and Krieger Accountants, come to Shelbyfest for the sense of community.
"It's just nice to see all the people and all the different cars," Krieger said. "Growing up my grandpa always had Mustangs when I was a young boy and I've always liked the car, had an opportunity a few years ago to get this one and kind of fell in love with it."
One of the main attractions at Shelbyfest is Moment of Horsepower, a 90 second coordinated event where registered car owners "rev it up and rattle the windows" as a salute to those who are no longer with us.
"We just thought it was a great way to let the town know that we were here, it's an excuse to make a little noise with our cars," Caraway said.
"I'd love to be on top of the building to listen to it all from up above, because when you're sitting in your car you really don't realize the effect of what's going on with 700 cars," Krieger said.
"But it really became a lot more than that, because there're so many people that have family members that serve in the military that are gone, or in some cases folks that lose members of their family to sickness," Caraway said.
Caraway added that part of what makes Shelbyfest so unique is the variety of cars that make an appearance, bringing in vehicles from over half the states in the U.S.
"You don't have to have a Shelby to participate in Shelbyfest. So we invite everybody who's a member of the Ford family to come take part in this," Caraway said.
Shelbyfest is held every first weekend in May.