Annual Tony Sousa Memorial Car Show
Early morning on the historic Santa Monica Pier, our car show's filling up quick, another beautiful day in sunny SoCal.
The Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club has been holding our annual car shows since the early 90's. At first, we held our events every couple of years, our first several car shows were at Woodley Park in Van Nuys. Our core group of members, at that time, were more into hosting/participating in our world famous open track events, so we'd hold a vote and the car show sometimes wouldn't make the cut that year. We were amazed that Jay Leno would show up at our events, we're not sure how he heard about them, but it was always great seeing him and the interesting vehicle he would pull up in, each year.
From there, in the early 2000s, our next stop was at the Petersen Automotive Museum. We were at the Petersen for quite a few years... and, with Tony Sousa's passing in early 2005, we honored Tony with our first two Tony Sousa Memorial Car Shows there, in 2005 and 2006.
Then we had the chance to show our stuff on the historic Santa Monica Pier. It didn't start out great... that first year, in 2007, we had a massive downpour in the middle of our event, it rained hard and steady for about 20 minutes. Surprisingly, only a few Cobras and other convertibles left the show... after the rain, everyone came out of whatever shelter they could find, dried off their cars, and we had a fantastic car show. We held our Car Show on the Santa Monica Pier thru 2016, then in 2017, we moved to close-by Marina Del Rey, which is less than a mile away from 1042 Princeton Dr in Venice, where the early Shelby cars were built.
For two years (2018 and 2019), our Car Show was held at Carroll Shelby International Headquarters in Gardena, which formerly housed Carroll's Goodyear Racing Tire Distributorship. Our 2019 Car Show was huge, like a mini Shelby Convention... Our Guest of Honor was Peter Miles, as well as the Ford GT40 (P/1015) that his father raced at Le Mans in '66... also present, Ken's "flying Mustang" (SFM5R002). Bob Bondurant was also there with the Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2299) he drove to a class win in the '64 Le Mans race.
In 2020 we had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic which shut down nearly all of the car shows in the South Bay. In 2021 & 2022, we held our car show at the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum, in El Segundo, which is about 3/4 mile south-east of where the 1965 thru 1967 Shelby Mustangs were built, at LAX (6501 Imperial Hwy). We'll see you at the Zimmerman for our TSMCS18 on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
On a Shelby cruise, thru the Valley of Fire, Nevada with Tony Sousa (Center), Bob Shaw (L) and Tom Henry (R).
Tony Sousa was a long time Mustang and Shelby enthusiast and the owner of a 1965 Shelby GT350 (SFM5S515). He was an active member of the national Shelby American Automobile Club and the Secretary of our local Los Angeles chapter of the Club. Tony had also been a coordinator with the Mustangs Across America tour since the first event held in 1994.
Tony displayed his Shelby GT350 at many car shows and Shelby events and even had his Shelby chosen by Ford Motor Company to appear in several displays in Michigan. Tony believed that the cars should be driven, and as such, made several trips across the country in his ‘65 Shelby.
Over the years Tony also owned other Shelby Mustangs including a red 1969 GT350 and a blue 1969 GT500. Tony realized another dream of his when he acquired a brand new genuine CSX7000 Series Shelby FIA Cobra 289 built to his specifications.
During the day, Tony was a public servant, serving as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney. Tony unexpectedly passed away in January 2005.
The Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club is honored to dedicate our annual car show as a tribute to Tony Sousa.
Tony receiving a trophy in '99 at our 7th LASAAC Car Show at Woodley Park in Van Nuys with Tony Sousa (L), Bob Shaw (R).
Tony, at Woodley, discussing car show etiquette with friends.
At the SAAC-27 Convention, Tony's '65 Shelby GT350 (5S515) at California Speedway with Carroll Shelby (L) & Tony Sousa (R).
Tony Sousa (L) with race car driver, Bob Bondurant (R).
Tony with his '65 Shelby GT350 (SFM5S515) on the left and Humberto Villasenor and his '66 Shelby GT350 on the right.
Tony with his red '69 Shelby GT350 at Check Point Automotive.
Tony on a parade lap, at the top of turn 4 at Willow's big track.
Tony Sousa (kneeling) with friends at Willow Springs Raceway.
Tony sitting in his CSX7000 Series FIA Shelby Cobra roadster.
Tony with his buddies at the big game... Cal vs Stanford.
Cheers at Christmastime with Tony's family (L to R), Angela (sister), Anthony (father), Maria (sister) and Elvira (mother).
Tony at a Cal "Go Bears" game with his dad, Maria and Angela.
VIDEO: Tony Sousa on Speed Channel's Barrett-Jackson Car Search at the Petersen Museum in
2004, highlighting differences between the 1965, 1966 & 1967 Shelby GT350's & the GT500.
In 2004, WATV Productions contacted the LASAAC to narrate a segment of the television series: Barrett-Jackson Car Search for the Speed Channel. Tony, an Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney was a natural pick for this. Tony had also covered the 1968 and 1969/1970 Shelby Mustangs that day at the Petersen Automotive Museum, but unfortunately, that segment never aired.
Remembrance from Tony's friend, Sam Haymart...
"Tony Sousa was a long time Mustang and Shelby enthusiast and an owner of a '65 GT350 which is restored to perfection. The car was displayed at many car shows and SAAC events. Lately the Shelby had even been chosen by Ford Motor Company to appear in some of their displays in Michigan. Over the years he owned other Shelby Mustangs including a '69 GT350 and a GT500. An active member of SAAC since 1976, he had been in the scene since the first act. Making him unique is the fact that he believes his cars should be driven, not hoarded in a garage. He was currently the Secretary of the Los Angeles Region of SAAC. The '65 Shelby has made cross country trips on several occasions. Well aware of the blessing of owning these cars, Tony had been known to cheerfully share the experience with his friends, allowing them to take the cars for a spin once in a while. Recently he acquired his dream car, a brand new genuine Shelby FIA Cobra 289 built precisely to his specs. His daily driver was of course a '95 Mustang GT.
Tony had been a coordinator with Mustangs Across America since the first event in 1994. He called Sam Haymart in the early days, offering welcome help and advice. When an Australian enthusiast inquired if there was anyone they could ride with on the cross-country trek, Tony was one of the first to volunteer. On the trip it was common to see Tony in the passenger seat smiling wide as the crazy Aussie was blasting down the interstate behind the wheel of the Shelby. He was instrumental in the 1996 and 2004 MAA events, organizing and heading up many of the activities including the tour of the Dearborn Assembly Plant and a dinner banquet evening with Ford. The plant tour was a major coup at the time as Ford just didn't do that. He was persistent, persuasive and massaged the right people to make it happen where others had given up. Tony will continue to be an inspiration here at MAA.
Living in southern California, Tony was a real life crime fighter as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles. His work was very important to him and he was good at it. He'd share a brief courtroom drama once in a while, though he would rather talk Mustangs more often than not."
President, MAA Inc.
Remembrance from Tony's work colleague, Mike Stewart...
"Tony's current assignment in the District Attorney's Office was in the Lifer Hearing Unit. Defendants convicted of charges such as first degree murder, second degree murder, attempted murder and kidnapping can receive sentences such as 25 years to life, 15 years to life and other "life" sentences. After serving a certain percentage of his time, the convicted defendant is entitled to a parole hearing before the parole board where he is serving his sentence. Our office will send one of our district attorneys to the hearing to represent the interests of the victims and of the People of the State of California. This is what Tony would do. He would fight to keep the convict in state prison. The most important factors would be the brutality of the crime, the prisoner's prior record before he committed this crime, and the defendant's actions and conduct in state prison.
This assignment required Tony to travel to the various state prisons throughout California. In a given month, he would on average, be away from ½home 2 1/2 weeks. It is a sacrifice to be away from one's home, family, and friends, but Tony really loved this assignment. He told me it was his favorite and wanted to stay with this unit for the rest of his career. When he was in the Bay Area he would visit his parents. When he was in the Fresno area he would get to spend time with Doug Boher. Tony loved his work as much as he loved his hobby of the Shelby Mustangs and Cobras. I was fortunate to spend time with him in both worlds.
I was struck by the warm and heartfelt letters on this post. These are the same comments my colleagues in the office have been saying. One mutual friend summed it up best when she told me that Tony's presence made every situation better, whether it was in the office or in a social gathering.
Prior to working in the Lifer Hearing Unit Tony was in the trenches trying the tough cases in the downtown L.A. courthouse. He tried approximately 150 jury trials in his career. This would put him the top 10% in our office as far as the number of cases tried before a jury. Most deputy district attorneys tend to move on to administrative positions after getting near the century mark. While jury trials are exhilarating they also take a lot out of you. He always did well. As a deputy district attorney your client is the People of the State of California. Tony always represented you with honor and integrity, and conducted himself with the highest ethical standards.
The mood around the office today was the same as on this post. We have lost one of the good guys in this world. Those who knew him will never forget him and will always miss him."
A message from our former LASAAC Treasurer, Mario Veltri:
I had the privilege of representing the L.A. Shelby Club at the Memorial Mass, held for Tony Sousa on January 29, 2005 at Saint Ignatius Church, San Francisco, Ca. I had been to this Church a few years ago, as it sits on the campus of the University of San Francisco, where my youngest daughter was a
graduate. This was the church that Tony grew up attending, and was in the neighborhood where he lived as a youth. There were about 100 family members and friends in attendance. There were three speakers who spoke of there past times with Tony, his University of California, classmates, David Dahle
and Douglas Bohrer and Tony's sister, Angela Sousa. Each told wonderful stories of Tony, and spoke of his many interests including his support of the Cal. football team ( Tony attended every football game Cal played, from the first day he attended Cal, until the present), he also had a great love of music, how he enjoyed his work and respected the law, and also his love for cars and Shelby's in particular.
His close friend and classmate, David Dahle, told a story of a driving trip he had taken with Tony to Oregon, for a Cal game. As they were driving on Interstate 5, David noticed that Tony was speeding far above the posted speed limit. Sure enough they passed a highway patrol and David warned Tony
of his speed, but Tony told him not to worry. When David asked why, Tony told him to look in the glove box which he did and found Tony's wallet with his D.A. badge. Well, sure enough, within minutes they were pulled over and the officer told Tony he was speeding, and wanted to see his license. Tony pulled his wallet out and flipped his badge and the officer said " well, you're an officer of the law" and Tony said "yes I am, with the D.A. office in Los Angeles, California". The officer smiled and said welcome to Oregon and wrote Tony up. For those of us who knew Tony, we might find that story hard to believe but apparently Tony had his wild side.
It was obvious that Tony will be greatly missed by his family, his friends at Cal, those in the D.A. office and the legal profession and by us, his friends at the Los Angeles Shelby America Automobile Club.
. . . and from LASAAC member Gregg Taylor:
I wanted to impart a story about Tony. A couple of year's ago, I was running in the Big Bore Bash at
Willow Springs. I was in a group of 3 cars going into turn 1, very tightly grouped. This group consisted of a '67 Mustang - Les Nimmo, a Tiger - Dan Walters , and me - '65 Mustang. Dan went off track and decided he wanted to get right back on. Only he came on track backwards in a plume of dust and tore off the right side of my car. The wheel and partial axle went flying into the go-cart track. This day, no go-carts were racing....
When I was being towed into the pits, Tony came to greet me with camera in hand. He said he had witnessed the whole thing and asked if I was O.K. He couldn't believe how incredible it looked. Enthusiasm and compassion, you bet !!!
Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times Obituary - Jan. 23, 2005...
Sousa, Anthony J. "Tony"
"Passed away suddenly of a heart attack on January 12, 2005. Tony was born in Hong Kong on August 19, 1950 and immigrated with his family as a child to San Francisco in 1958. He was a graduate of St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School, received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from Golden Gate Law School.
After brief stints at the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, Tony spent the remainder of his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney with the Los Angeles County D.A.'s Office. Tony loved his work. For the last four years he was especially proud to be able to represent "The People of the State of California" in the Lifer Hearing Unit of the L.A. D.A.'s Office. While at Cal, he was a yell leader for the Cal football team. For the rest of his life he was a loyal "Son of California" and a rabid "Bear Backer". He was a lifetime member of the Cal Alumni Association; served on its Board of Directors; and was a member of the Steering Committee of the Westside L.A. Cal Alumni Club.
Among his other many and varied interests, one of the most important was his love of Ford Mustangs and Shelby Cobras. A member of the Shelby American Automobile Club since 1976, he was a Vice-President of Mustangs Across America Inc. and Secretary of the L.A. Shelby Club. Tony will be remembered always for his dedication, integrity, exuberance, and generosity of spirit."
In April of 2005, at our World-Famous Spring Open Track & Driver Education Event, the LASAAC bid Tony farewell with a
checkered-flag, reverse lap of the Streets of Willow. Tony, you will be missed, but not forgotten... till we're all together again!