The death of Carroll Shelby

The automotive world lost a great today in 2012 when Carroll Hall Shelby passed away at the age of 89 in Dallas, Texas, USA. Shelby is best known for his role in the creation of the Shelby AC Cobra and the Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s. However, his career involved quite a bit more than just these cars.    Shelby grew a need for speed in the late 1930s driving a modified Willys while attending high school in Texas. After graduation he served in the Air Army Corps during WWII as a test pilot and flight instructor. Upon discharge he held positions in the oil fields and on a poultry farm before finally getting into the career he really wanted, auto racing. His career started when he began entering a friend’s MG TC and a borrowed Cad-Allards into amatuer races. His quick success led to invitations to race for the factory teams of Aston Martin and Maserati by the late 1950s. His racing career highlights include setting 16 international speed records at Bonneville Speed Flats in a modified Austin Healey, setting the Mount Washington Hillclimb record and being named Sports Illustrated’s driver of the year in 1956 and 1957. However, he said the biggest achievement of his racing career was winning the 1959 24 Hours at Le Mans with teammate Roy Salvadori. It was during this race that he noticed the outstanding performance of the English AC Ace, the very car which would become the basis for the AC Cobra just three years later.  Following his retirement from racing in October 1959 due to health reasons Shelby started Shelby-American in which he began to import specially built AC cars, known as the Cobra. He asked the English autobuilder to stuff a Ford V8 in the car which usually carried a V6 or similar engine, and the car became known as the Shelby Cobra. He backed the vehicle financially from 1962 t0 1965. He was also influential in the creation of the Ford GT40 and Daytona Coupe. The Mustang-based Shelby GT350 and GT500 rounded off some of his great early achievements.  Shelby would go on to build cars under his own brand as well as through partnerships with Dodge and Oldsmobile. Shelby was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992, the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992 and the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2013. To elaborate on Shelby’s career it would take hundreds of pages. This brief is a short set of highlights from one of the automotive world’s true legends. Shelby passed away due to heart complications at a Dallas hospital. Visit www.automotivehistory.org for more pictures!   Photos:Carroll Shelby in 2007 By Sherry Lambert Stapleton from No.. I live in Halifax VA., USA! – Carroll Shelby and Sherry Lambert, CC BY-SA 2.0,1965 Shelby AC Cobra 427 – by PLawrence99cx – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,Shelby beside his 1957 Maserati 450S at Virginia International Raceway in 2007. By Sherry Lambert Stapleton – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0  Shelby racing an Aston Martin DBR1/300 at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1958. By C5813 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.01967 Shelby Mustang GT500 – Eleanor from “Gone in 60 Seconds” by Juanyo at English CC BY-SA 3.0

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email