Carroll Shelby, a former chicken farmer who roared out of the hills of East Texas to become a champion race car driver and the father of the muscle car, building some of the fastest and sleekest sports cars ever to hit the highway, died May 10 at age 89.
Carroll Shelby was nearly 30 years old before he entered his first car race – a quarter-mile drag meet in 1952. The hot rod he drove to the finish line that day was powered by a Ford V8 and cemented into history his long term relationship with Ford Motor Company. Later, Carroll Shelby was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1957, when he won 19 consecutive road races, and was twice was named the magazine’s driver of the year. In 1959, he became the second American-born driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race driving for the Aston Martin Racing Team (along with his British teammate, Roy Salvadori).
When a persistent heart condition forced him to retire from racing in 1960, Mr. Shelby turned his efforts towards the automotive aftermarket. Determined to make the fastest sports car on the road, Carroll mated a Ford 289 V-8 engine in the chassis of a little-known British AC Roadster and dubbed his new car the Shelby Cobra and created a legend. In addition to this highly successful effort, Carroll created many other performance vehicles including the GT500s and collaborated with Ford on the original Ford GT40 and later the Ford GT supercar programs.
The entire team at Steeda Autosports mourns the passing of Carroll Shelby and sincerely appreciates the many collaborative efforts that he has done for the Ford performance enthusiast over the years.