PROSSER -- Benton County commissioners gave an enthusiastic endorsement Monday for Jerod Shelby's efforts to make West Richland home of the Ultimate Aero SuperCar.
Shelby and Ruth Swain, West Richland's economic development director, presented the 20-minute show-and-tell video program at the commissioners' meeting in Prosser.
It was a rare public appearance for the secretive Shelby, whose company went from unknown to world famous in 2007 when his Ultimate Aero supercar set a world record as the fastest production automobile at 257 mph.
Shelby said he had dreamed since childhood of designing and building a world-class supercar.
That opportunity came in 1998 after he had a successful career as a mechanical engineer working on medical devices.
Shelby switched careers and gears to form Shelby SuperCars, then spent the next nine years in self-imposed seclusion while bringing the dream car into production and the Guinness World Records book.
"I knew it would take a media splash," said Shelby on Monday, which was why he kept his dream a confidential work in progress until Sept. 13, 2007, when veteran race car driver Chuck Bigelow of Richland drove Shelby's SuperCar faster than any other production car had gone before.
Since then, Shelby's famous automobile has been around the world on tour in the United Kingdom, Russia, India and Dubai.
"By the end of 2009 it had outperformed all expectations, and we had done all that we could do," Shelby said.
But success didn't stop Shelby, who set a new goal of creating the next generation of Shelby SuperCars, which he hopes will be built "under one roof" in new facilities in West Richland.
Production of Ultimate Aeros, which carried a price tag of $250,000, was done through five different assembly facilities, located in Arizona, Washington and California.
The new SuperCar will be wholly a West Richland creation, and will feature carbon fiber materials throughout, from the body to the one-piece wheels, he said. It also will have a new drive train, with a completely new engine design and built specifically for the new SuperCar.
Shelby's second generation machine also will set a new high for for his production automobiles -- $970,000.
To bring Shelby's newest SuperCars to the next level of success, Shelby and West Richland are partners in building new facilities.
Up to $1.5 million in private capital investment money is needed to capture a state grant of almost $830,000.
Swain said the grant approved last year will go toward buying propertyand help build the production facilities. The city will own the land and Shelby will build the facilities, leasing the property from the city.
"Shelby has to demonstrate he can build the building and we are looking for partnerships," Swain said.
Swain said the city and Shelby fully expect to meet a mid-July deadline to satisfy conditions of the state grant.
She said a site has been identified for building the new facilities, but it is not being identified until all details are worked out.
She thanked the county commissioners for their letter of support, and noted that other groups also have offered support.
"This will put West Richland and Benton County on the world map," said Leo Bowman, commission chairman.
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