He would drive his first
race behind the wheel of a hot rod fitted with a flathead Ford V8.
Would break land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in
1954. Would finish a respectable second place driving an
Aston-Martin DBR3 against C-type Jags at Aintree. Would ride with
the Aston-Martin team at LeMans in 1954. Would win at Torrey Pines
with a 4.1 liter Mexico Ferrari. Would become Sports Illustrated's
1956 "Sports Car Driver of the Year". And the magazine's "Driver
of the Year" in 1957. Would win a 100 mile race at Riverside in a
V8 Maserati. Would co-drive an Aston-Martin DBR 1/300 and win the
coveted 24 hours of LeMans. Would drive a Scarab to first place at
Continental Divide Raceways in 1960. And in his last year of
racing, would win the USAC Driving Championship for 1960. Unable
to compete with a deteriorating heart condition, his final lap in
racing was now history. Fortunately for car lovers, a new path was
about to begin.
His racing career now over,
Shelby set his sites on automotive design. On creating cars that
would be faster, lighter, more nimble, and able to win against the
world's best.. The result of this quest: The Shelby Cobra. In
1965, the Shelby-American Team, racing Cobra's at the 12 Heures De
Reims in France, scored enough points to win the prestigious FIA
World Championship of GT cars. Taking the title virtually owned by
Ferrari for a decade. Building on their success, the
Shelby-American Team began racing Ford GT40's in international
competition. The result? A win at the LeMans 24 hour race In 1966.
And another in 1967. At the request of Ford, Shelby began
developing a high-performance Mustang for the street and track.
The popular success of the Shelby Mustangs of 1965-1970 were, in
large part, the result of Shelby's racing and design skills. But
Shelby's vision of building another high-performance car would
continue. Serving as the guiding inspiration, in the 90's, Shelby
American developed the awesome Shelby Series 1, the fastest car
ever tested in the standing measured mile. Shelby also helped
Chrysler develop the fast, sleek and powerful Viper. It was
achievements like these that led to Carroll Shelby's induction
into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992. Not bad for a guy from
Leesburg, Texas who began his career racing hot rods.
Carroll Shelby has again
turned his attention to making high-performance cars that will be
the standard for future generations. Will he be successful? If
past performance is any indication of future results, we have only
four words of advice: FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS.