Legendary racer and car designer Carroll Shelby passed away on Friday 11th, 2013 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. He was 89, and while he may be gone he will never be forgotten. That being said, his story is one dreams are made of. Born in 1923 in small town Texas, Shelby first developed his love for speed while serving as a test pilot and flight instructor in the United States Army Air Corp during World War 2. After that he returned home to the exciting life of a chicken farmer, but never forgot his need for speed. Then one in 1952 he jumped into a beat up, used car, an MG TC and entered a race. While he didn’t win he did outperform many superior cars as he displayed the knack and instincts needed to be a racer. Shelby was hooked.
Soon after that he found himself in a Cadillac-powered Allard J2 and won his first real race in Caddo Mills, Texas. It wasn’t before long that he gained recognition and found himself driving for Aston Martin in both Sebring and Le Mans. He was seriously injured in the Carrera Pan American Mexico as he flipped his Healy over four times. Despite that he was back to raising just a few months later even though it required him to wear a special cast and have his hand taped to the steering wheel! In 1956 and 1957 he was named Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated and in 1959 he won Le Mans and the USAC driving championship. Sadly, a heart condition forced him into early retirement but Shelby was not about to quit and decided if he couldn’t race them he would build them.
In 1961 he contacted AC Cars and asked if they were interested in letting him pop a V-8 into one of its chassis.
Nobody could compete with the Shelby racing team and his cars won multiple races including the 1965 Sebring 12-hour, Le Mans and most famously, humiliating Ferrari by take a 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 Le Mans. Ford had wanted a car that could take down the Corvette. What they got was a car that could take down anything.
For the widespread public his most famous work was with the Ford Mustang. In 1965 they released the Shelby Mustang GT350 for both spec racing and street racing. It was a huge hit and car lovers everywhere wanted one. The legacy of the Shelby Mustang lives on even to this day, as Ford continues to produce the Shelby Mustang as its top of the line muscle car. It is generally considered one of the best cars ever made. Not bad for a guy who got his start in chicken farming.