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Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2013 07 Shelby Run Europe 2012 Part 1 Page 2

The best journeys often begin as someone else's crazy dream. In the case of my greatest travel experience, the dreamer was a Dutchman named Patrick Bouthoorn, owner of one of the first 2007 GT500s in Europe. And the dream... a contingent of Shelbys touring Europe, skimming down the best roads and visiting historic sites along the way.

I had met Patrick and his wife Astrid in January 2008 at Carroll Shelby's 85th Birthday Bash at Shelby World Headquarters in Las Vegas. They had traveled all the way from their home in the Netherlands to attend Team Shelby's first official event. Two years later, at a Shelby event in Terlingua, Texas, Patrick teamed up with Sean Cook of SMC Events to make the dream reality.

As soon as I heard about this automotive adventure, I tossed my name into the hat to reserve one of the 20 available spots--even though I'd not yet discussed it with Debra, my understanding and patient wife of 27 years.

Although she didn't immediately approve, some weeks later Debra surprised me with a very special envelope. It contained a handmade card with images of Europe, the Autobahn symbol, and a picture of our 2008 GT500KR in a street scene. On the bottom, the words, "Happy 50th Birthday."

Shelby American and I share the same birth year: 1962.

Anticipation built as Patrick shared his initial thoughts about the tour route during the months that followed. Driving the unlimited-speed sections of the Autobahn, stops at the world famous Nürburgring, and Le Mans... all while on a driving tour of eight countries throughout Europe... all in our very own Shelbys. Talk about a car guy's fantasy.

I'm sure I speaking for most of us when I say that, about six months out, we began counting the days until our departure date of Friday 29 June 2012.

My co-pilot for the trip was to be our 18-year-old daughter, Victoria. Although she had been driving for two years, she had not yet mastered a stick shift. In the month prior to the trip, her older brother Taylor was kind enough to allow her some training time in his 2001 Bullitt Mustang so she could be better prepared to appreciate our adventure.

Finally, the day arrived for us to depart San Francisco on our flight to Amsterdam. I was full of nervous anticipation, having not seen my car in five weeks and wondering about its arrival condition. (I had dropped it off