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A Beginning:  In 1977 the Shelby American Automobile Club was presenting its 2nd National Convention in Hershey, PA.  It was the impetus that ignited a spark in Steve Yates.

 

Steve & Joyce Yates set out to attend the Hershey convention in their newly acquired 1966 Shelby GT350.  Driving into the hotel parking lot awash with Shelbys started all the excitement.  There were more Shelbys than Steve had ever seen in one gathering, and perhaps more than had been assembled since the Imperial Highway Airport gathering.

 

There were vendors, tech seminars, a stimulating evening of programs—culminating in the most fantastic multi-media show any Shelby fan has ever seen.  Drew Serb, one of the original movers in SAAC, had put the show together and it was so well received that is was played a second time at the end of the convention.

 

Upon returning home to Nashville, IN Steve had a desire to replicate the event in Indiana.  The Yates felt they could pull it off, and thus the Indiana SAAC was born.

 

The following May of 1978 with armfuls of brand new class signs, a huge schedule to post, a couple pots of Indiana SAAC chili and a banner modeled after the one seen at SAAC-2 in Hershey the year before—some 30 cars had convened for the first Annual Shelby Spring Fling in Brown County.

 

The Expansion:  From a modest start the Shelby Spring Fling flourished.  In 1980 it shifted from a one-day to a two-day event, adding a Friday Welcome Bash and overnight accommodations at the Abe Martin Lodge.  A committee was formed to help plan and carry out the event, and in late 1980 they became the first Board of Directors for Indiana SAAC.  By 1981 the Spring Fling had become a three-day event, adding a Sunday road-driving event and a Saturday evening banquet/program.  Attendance had swollen to 110 cars and 75 lodge rooms & cabins occupied.

 

In 1988 the Abe Martin Lodge underwent a $4M renovation to increase the number of rooms (which by then we were selling out) to 160, expand the kitchen & dining room and adding the banquet hall.  That year the banquet and pig-roast were held in the more primitive Recreation Building further in the park.

 

Membership had grown and by the end of the 1980’s an Indiana SAAC Fall Driving Tour was established.  The group visited museums, took river cruises and luncheons, explored southern Indiana caves, visited the fabulous West Baden Inn and even driven on the high banks of the famous Salem Motor Speedway!

 

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The Move:  By 1991 the event was overcrowding the oval parking area below the Lower Shelter House.  Attendance was nearing 200 cars with 500 people registered for the weekend, and 113 rooms & cabins occupied.  It was also the first year noted automotive artist Bill Neale was our guest, as was Carroll Shelby himself to sign autographs and pose for photo opportunities.  It was a milestone for Indiana SAAC—Steve’s dream was coming true.

 

In 1992 the show was moved to the larger pool area parking lot by the North Gate entrance.  Attendance continued to grow to nearly 300 cars and over 600 people, selling out all 160 lodge rooms and several cabins.  Through the years guest speakers have included Bill Neale, Carroll Shelby, Charlie Kemp, Steve Saleen, Pete Brock, John Clor and many other folks with Ford and Shelby ties.

 

The Passing:  In 1995 Steve passed away following a year-long battle with Leukemia.  Pete Brock joined us for the 18th Annual Spring Fling and he wrote, “The 1996 Spring Fling Shelby Meet was a really beautiful tribute to the memory of Steve.  If it had not been for his love and enthusiasm for the Shelby cars, there would have been no event.”

 

The club would continue on with Joyce Yates carrying the torch in honor of her late husband, along with all of his friends on the Board of Directors.  Attendance would remain steady at nearly 300 cars and annually selling out the lodge and cabins, forcing overflow lodging in nearby Nashville, IN.

 

A New Century:  In 2000 Donald Farr of Mustang Monthly joined us to sponsor a Friday Pony Trails event to kick off the Spring Fling weekend.  Participation has seen nearly 200 Mustangs cruising some of the finest southern Indiana countryside to unique and fun destinations.  By now the show was garnering local attention with 100’s of spectators mingling around the show field on Saturday.

 

End of an Era:  In June of 2012, just one month removed from the 35th Annual Spring Fling Joyce Yates lost her long battle with cancer.  With no children involved in the club, the Yates era had come to a close for Indiana SAAC.  Long time Vice President Doug Scott took the reigns and a few new Board Members have joined the ranks to keep the tradition alive.

 

The Future:  Nobody knows what the future really holds, but one thing is for certain—as long the world is still turning you can find hundreds of Shelby and Mustang enthusiasts in the Brown County State Park, EVERY year come the third weekend of May.  Make your plans now for the 41st Annual Spring Fling to be held May 18-19, 2018. 

Steve Yates

1939-1995

Joyce Yates

1935-2012

The scene at Hershey, PA’s SAAC-2 back in 1977 — the inspiration for Steve & Joyce Yates to form Indiana SAAC   

Indiana SAAC prides itself on the number of early Shelbys, early Mustangs, and exotics that the Spring Fling has attracted—over 50% of total attendance.

Indiana SAAC

Indiana SAAC is a non-profit, regional organization of the Shelby American Automobile Club—dedicated to the preservation, care, history and enjoyment of the cars from Shelby America.