Carroll Shelby Dies at 89
Racer, car builder, team owner and entrepreneur was one of the car world's last living legends.
As a race-car driver, the high-performance legend won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin in 1959 with co-driver Roy Salvadori. Shelby also won U.S. sports-car championship titles with Ferrari and Maserati and raced in Formula 1 for two seasons.
In the 1960s, Shelby created the iconic Shelby Cobra, which dominated the racetracks of the era and defeated Ferrari for the world manufacturer's title. Shelby went on to lend his name and tuning expertise to existing models, most notably the Ford Mustang with the Shelby GT350 Mustang -- a modern version of which, the 650-horsepower V8-powered Shelby GT500 Mustang, exists in the Ford stables to this day. During his longstanding association with the Blue Oval, Shelby also presided over the Ford team's incredible Le Mans wins in 1966 and '67. According to Autoweek, "Shelby is believed to be the only person to win Le Mans as a driver (with Aston Martin), a manufacturer (class victory with the Cobra Daytona coupe) and team owner (Ford's GTs)."
The man's accomplishments and technical achievements with companies such as Shelby American and Shelby Automobiles, as well as with educational and charitable foundations such as the Carroll Shelby School of Automotive Technology at the Northeast Texas Community College and the Carroll Shelby Heart Fund (now Carroll Shelby Foundation), tell the story of a charismatic risk-taker and envelope-pusher -- a man for whom "faster" was a challenge, a directive and a lifelong mission.
Carroll Hall Shelby was born Jan. 11, 1923, in Leesburg, Texas. He is survived by Cleo Shelby, his wife; sister Anne Shelby Ellison; daughter Sharon Levine and sons Michael and Patrick Shelby. You can find out more about the Carroll Shelby foundation here.
About 12 years ago when I was a workaholic 22 year-old with a 1990 Nissan 300zx and a Ferrari 328, my friend's stepfather owned and still has a mint, original Cobra with the 289. Black with dark red interior and absolutely gorgeous.
I had the privilege of going for a ride in it about 12 years ago as thanks for helping him swap out the brake fluid. He was so careful of the featherweight aluminum body that he insisted on closing the passenger door after I got in. Having been on both sides of the shifter in so many nice sports cars I have to say, I sure do, that Shelby Cobra was surreal to ride in. Amazing.
I thank my friend's stepfather for the brief ride down the road and just the same, I thank Carroll Shelby for his passion that made so many phenomenal cars and memories.
Without a doubt he is a life to celebrate for any automotive enthusiast.
Rest in Peace Mr. Shelby. Thank you for your contributions to the automotive world, You will be greatly missed.
My brother and I grew up reading about Carroll Shelby and wanting to do things like he did - racing, building cars, etc - I never met the man but every time I saw him he always was charming and very down to earth. My brother was the lucky one and got to know Mr. Shelby quite well and said that he was everything that I perceived him to be. A real prince of a guy. A real loss to the automotive world and to the world at large that such a classy guy has left us. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.