Kids at Live Oak Elementary in Castaic had the ultimate excuse to get out of class for an hour on Thursday and it was all thanks to a drawing done by a student.
Representatives from Team Shelby, which is the public relations subsidiary of the Shelby American car company, brought two classic Shelby cars to Live Oak and even let Principal Stephanie Beach go for a short joy ride around the block in the guardsman blue replica 289 FIA Cobra Roadster.
“Oh, it was amazing,” said Beach. “We got a little speed around the corner, so it was very fun.”
Students seemed thrilled to be able to sit in and get a photo opportunity in either the roadster or next to the powder blue 1968 Ford Mustang, featuring Shelby modifications, and awed at the roar of the engines as they started up.
The reason the whole event was organized was because of a sixth grader named Jacob Lensch. Lensch, who’s an avid car enthusiast, was working on a project for Rene Gimenez’s class and decided to turn in a drawing he’d done of one of the cars from the film “Ford vs. Ferrari,” specifically a 1966 Ford GT40.
On the first day of school last semester, Gimenez gave an assignment titled “Pursuing Your Dreams and Goals By Always Striving to Do Your Best.” It was a “get to know you” type of assignment, said Gimenez.
“The whole premise of the assignment was, if you had a chance to go back in time, where would you want to go? And why? Which would give me a little bit of an insight towards their interests are, you know, what’s important to them,” said Gimenez. “I was just absolutely taken by it, because he was so precise in his identification of not only the car, but the year and the location.”
Gimenez, who happens to own a Shelby, was so impressed by the drawing that he decided to share it with the Shelby Club Facebook page, which he was a part of.
The drawing caught the attention of Scott Black, the marketing director of Team Shelby. Black was also struck by Lensch’s drawing and decided to contact Gimenez to organize an event.
“We spent the next several months just trying to put the whole presentation together that you see today,” said Gimenez. “I think the cool thing was their message. If you’re familiar with the story of Carroll Shelby, the whole message is if you have a dream, and you have a passion, pursue it. And you will figure out a way to make it happen. It’s just persistence and that’s one of the things I really tried to teach in sixth grade.”
In addition to showing off some classic cars, Black also gave a 40-minute presentation that was part inspirational speech detailing the life of Carrol Shelby, featuring clips from “Ford vs. Ferrari,” and part promotion for Shelby American while donning an exact replica of Shelby’s famous white racing jacket.
“I get paid to go around the world talking to people like you, meeting with celebrities and driving cool cars like this,” said Black. “So if I can do it, you guys can do this, too. So this is an opportunity today to sit back and say, ‘How can I write my story?’”
At the end of the event Lensch was able to sit in the Roadster as he gave interviews and posed for pictures. Lensch said he’d never had this much attention for one of his drawings and that he thought the event “was really good, it was pretty amazing.”
His mother, Lauren Lensch, seemed equally overwhelmed but also very proud.
“I saw his drawing when he came home, but every day Jacob draws every car imaginable,” said Lensch. “Ford, Mustang, everything and so it was just, you know, it’s just another drawing, but now it’s this.”