A patrol car passes by in the opposite direction as Kurt and I rumble south through the town of Pell City, Alabama, in a spanking-new 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. We've just ducked off Interstate 20, and the GT500 looks guilty as hell with its grille-less gaping maw, menacing Deep Impact Blue Metallic paint and cartoonish white Shelby skunk stripes. What's more, we've got out-of-state written all over us in the form of Michigan license plates.
Sure enough, I glance up in the mirror just in time to see the cruiser's red and blue lightbar begin its sorry dance as the officer spins his black-and-white around with substantially more urgency than is necessary. Perhaps he doesn't know that if I decide to run he'd stand no chance against the Shelby Mustang's 662 supercharged V8 horses.
"What's the speed limit here?" I ask Kurt as I breathe off the throttle, unwilling to flash the Mustang's LED brake lights. "I didn't see a sign. Did you see a sign?"
Before Kurt can reply, the police car gives me all the answer I need as it powers alongside and continues past in pursuit of an unfortunate local in a beat-up Buick that had been oozing past the whole time. As we pass, Pell City's finest gives us the stink eye as he steps out of his car and strides up to the Buick.
This is no way to start a cross-country drive in a 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. Nearly cross-country, that is, because Kurt and I picked up the keys less than two hours ago at a hotel in landlocked Atlanta.
If Google Maps has its way, our arrive-and-drive journey back to Southern California will consist of 2,193 freeway miles. But we've done that banzai run before, with one eye on the speedometer, another scanning the horizon and mirrors, a third in the form of an Escort radar detector and a case of Jolt Cola to keep them all wide open.
This time Kurt and I are on a mission to see something, even if that something isn't much of anything at all. Our plan involves frequent deviations off the interstate following a loosely defined theme based around motorsports, Carroll Shelby and Mexican food.
Our current course out of Pell City has us pointed toward Shelby County, Alabama, and the Shelby County Speedway in Wilsonville, a tiny clay oval bullring that has nothing to do with the late Carroll except for the presumption that he might have gotten a kick out of a racetrack and county with his surname on it.
The Long Way Home
Beyond that, this first stop puts us in the right neighborhood to catch the International Motorsports Hall of Fame museum at the nearby Talladega Motor Speedway when it opens its doors tomorrow morning. These and other side trips will add almost 1,100 miles to our journey, bringing the grand total up close to 3,300 miles.
We'll have to keep the tempo high in order to cover that kind of ground, and therein lies the rub: This time we're travelling blind with no radar detector.
Will Kurt and I escape with no additional points on our licenses? After this first encounter I'm beginning to have doubts. Check out the photos and captions to see where we went, what we saw and how the car fared on the ultimate 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 cross-country road trip.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.