To say that today is a sad day for the automotive world is an understatement. Carroll Shelby, one of the true pioneers of everything automotive that we have come to love and cherish, has passed away at the age of 89.
Born January 11, 1923 in Leesburg, Texas, Shelby’s love of cars manifested itself early on while he was attending high school in Dallas, Texas. After serving in the United States Army Air Coprs he adjusted to civilian life by placing himself behind the wheel of a race car. The rest, as they say, is history. In the 1950’s Shelby drove for the Aston Martin, Cad-Allard, and Maserati race teams. He was named Sports Illustrated’s Driver of the Year in both 1956 and 1957. He set 16 speed records in his now famous Austin Healey 100s, and in 1959 won the 24 hours of LeMans. He raced Formula One, he raced LeMans, he raced hill climb events… you can see where this is going. The man was born to challenge any car he could get behind the wheel of, and he did it extremely well. After retiring from racing, Carroll Shelby went on to help design, build and influence some of the greatest sports cars in automotive history throughout the years. It would be easy to mull over the enormous list of cars that he has been responsible for, maybe even to make a top 5 or 10 list of them. However, I think it is more fitting to remember the man not for the vehicles he helped to create, but instead, to remember him as a man that truly loved anything automotive and helped show us how to love and appreciate them as well. I don’t see anyone being able to step into his shoes to bring future generations to the joy of sitting behind a steering wheel, and that is a sad thing indeed.