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Registered: February 2006
Location: Bartonville, IL
Carroll Hall Shelby History
Highlights and lifetime accomplishments
If you had to choose one person who epitomizes the term �car guy,� Carroll Shelby would be near the top of everyone�s list. He�s left his stamp on the racing scene as a world-class driver and team manager, and forever changed the face of sports cars as a successful manufacturer both of racing and road cars.
Throughout his life, Shelby has worked as a consultant on some of the auto industry�s most entrepreneurial projects and sponsored a number of charitable foundations. All of this and he managed to squeeze in a heart transplant along the way, which makes him one of the oldest and longest living heart transplant patients.
Born Carroll Hall Shelby on January 11, 1923 in Leesburg, Texas, his family moved to Dallas when he was seven. Following high school, Shelby enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served during WWII as a flight instructor and test pilot. After completing military service, his early career ventures as dump truck entrepreneur, oilfield roughneck and Texas chicken farmer didn�t quite pan out (all of the chickens died after initial success).
Carroll then turned his racing hobby into more serious business. Winning four races in borrowed cars, he caught the eye of team manager John Wyer and landed a spot on the mid-1950s Aston Martin racing team. In 1958, teamed with Roy Salvadori, Shelby won the famed LeMans 24 Hours for Aston Martin, giving the marque its only victory in the long-distance classic and setting a new race record of 112.569 mph average for the event.
One year after his LeMans victory, however, Shelby was forced to give up driving for health reasons. His heart was failing and he had taken to driving with nitroglycerine tablets under his tongue. Still, this is a man who consistently turned adversity into advantage. So he turned his attention to building cars instead of racing them and created what is considered perhaps the greatest sports cars and one of the fastest road cars ever constructed � the Shelby Cobra.
The aluminum-bodied 289 and 427 Cobra models and the subsequent Shelby Mustangs he built for Ford made Carroll Shelby a household name in the 1960s. His Shelby American team built the six Cobra Daytona Coupes, which captured the World Manufacturer�s Championship in 1965. The next year a Shelby-led group of Ford GT 40s beat Ferrari at LeMans, putting him back in the winner�s circle at the famous race, this time as a manufacturer with two consecutive victories at the famed 24-Hour classic in 1966 and 1967.
But it isn�t just cars that drives Shelby. In 1967 he inaugurated the World Chili Cookoff competition and began marketing Carroll Shelby Original Texas Chili. In the early 1970s he established a safari expedition company in the Central African Republic and created and produced the first aluminum motorcycle wheel.
By the early 1980s, former Ford Motor Company President Lee Iacocca, a Carroll Shelby aficionado, had moved to Chrysler and he now turned to the man who had created a high-performance image for Ford, to work his magic on Chrysler�s fleet. Between 1983 and 1989, Shelby created a series of Chrysler-Dodge high-performance vehicles, including envisioning and inaugurating the prototype work on the concept car that ultimately became the Dodge Viper.
In 1990, Shelby launched his Can-Am Spec Racer, an affordable racing car for entry-level competitors which was sanctioned as a separate racing category by the Sports Car Club of American (SCCA).
On a more personal note, following his own successful heart transplant, in September 1991 he launched the Shelby Children�s Foundation?, which funds heart transplants for indigent children around the world. Over the years the Foundation�s funding has been supplemented from autograph signings, golf tournaments, and a percentage of the profits from the sale of Shelby automobiles.
The 1990s also brought Shelby a number of accolades, including his induction into the International and the Michigan Motorsports Halls of Fame, and his selection as the official pace car driver of the Dodge Viper that started the 1991 Indy 500 race. In 1996 he was inducted into the Mustang Club of America�s Hall of Fame. By the middle of the decade, Shelby also was hard at work on another manufacturing project. He reinvigorated his original Cobra concept with his new Shelby CSX4000 series Cobra S/C Roadsters, followed quickly by the design and manufacture of the Shelby Series I exotic sports car and then the introduction of the CSX7000 series continuation Cobra lineup.
Never one to rest, Shelby has embarked on still another engineering mission. In conjunction with Advanced Engine Technologies (AET), he was determined to bring economical power sources to emerging countries and to help lessen energy concerns in the U.S. with the development of the revolutionary OX2 engine, designed to help reduce dependency on fossil fuels to power the world�s economy.
Industry honors continued in 2002 when he received the Kruse International Collector Car Hall of Fame Award and again in 2003 when he received the prestigious Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award.
In his career in the automotive industry, Carroll Shelby has worked at a highly visible level with all three of the major American auto manufactures � GM, DaimlerChrysler and now Ford again. His charisma, his drive, and his entrepreneurial spirit is an integral part of every project he undertakes � from his early racing efforts to his current philanthropic endeavors on behalf of needy children. A successful racer, an innovative engineer, a world-class designer, manufacturer and entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby is one of the automotive industry�s true Renaissance Men and his impact on the automotive landscape continues to be unmatched.
Carroll Hall Shelby and his Cars
A short list of highlights and lifetime accomplishments
1941-45: Army Air Force pilot & flight instructor during WWII. One of the youngest B-26 bomber flight instructors in the War. Retains flying acumen today.
1952: Shelby wins first sports car race ever entered in Norman, Oklahoma, driving friend's MG-TD.
1952-60: Of the 111 sports car races that Shelby completed, he finished in the top 4 places 81 times, or 73%. 50 of the races or 45% were first place finishes.
1956: Sports Illustrated names Shelby Sports Car Driver of the Year.
1957: Sports Illustrated names Shelby Driver of the Year.
1958: New York Times names Shelby Driver of the Year.
1959: Shelby drives to 1st place finish in 24 hours of LeMans endurance race. (France)
1960: Shelby named USAC Driving Champion. Association with Goodyear racing tires formed.
1961: Shelby starts 1st racing school in U.S. called the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving.
1962: Shelby creates the original Cobra Roadster. Fastest production car ever made at that time; 0-60 MPH in 3.9 seconds.
1963: Cobra wins SCCA A-Production national championship & United States Road Racing championship.
1965: Shelby creates Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, only American car ever to win the FIA World Manufacturer=s Championship for GT cars, beating Europe's best: Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar & Aston Martin.
1965: Shelby creates Shelby GT-350. Shelby Cobra 427 created. 427 Cobra establishes high water performance mark for sports cars: 0-100 MPH in 13.2 seconds, 0-60 MPH in 3.2 seconds.
1965-67: Shelby retools Ford GT program. Directs Ford GT team to 2 consecutive LeMans 24 hour wins.
1967: Shelby creates Shelby GT-500.
1967: Shelby creates World Chili Cook-off competition and markets Carroll Shelby Original Texas Chili.
1970's: Shelby focuses on real estate ventures and establishes safari expedition company in the Central African Republic.
1973: Shelby creates & produces 1st aluminum motorcycle wheel.
1982: Shelby invited by Lee Iacocca to advise Chrysler on high performance vehicles.
1983-89: Shelby creates series of Shelby-Dodge high performance vehicles.
1987: Shelby envisions & begins prototype work on Dodge sports car which later becomes the Viper. The Snake, Shelby Blue, & Shelby Racing Stripes continue the tradition in the Viper.
1989: Shelby produces Cobra 427 S/C Completion Cars. Shelby builds 1st Viper chassis prototype.
1990: Shelby creates & produces Can-Am Spec racer, an affordable training Formula One race car for budding Formula One and Indy Car drivers.
1991: Shelby launches Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation that funds heart transplants for indigent children. Shelby inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
1991: Shelby honored by being invited to drive the Viper pace car used to start the Indy 500 race.
1992: Shelby inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America, Michigan.
1995: Shelby produces CSX4000 Series 427 Cobra S/C Roadsters.
1997-2000: Shelby designs & manufactures Shelby Series 1 sports car.
1998: Shelby creates the (Super Pursuit) S. P. 360 high performance sport utility vehicle.
1999: Shelby Cobra CSX2000; Motor Trend Magazine's most significant car of the last 50 years. Shelby teams with Titan to produce Shelby custom motorcycle; Shelby Series 1 by Titan.
2000: Shelby expands activities: Shelby Cobra 289FIA roadster, Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, Shelby Cobra Challenge Senior Race Series, 1967 Shelby GT-500 called Eleanor featured in the feature film Gone in 60 Seconds. Vintage Videos and Shelby Aircraft, Inc. formed.