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Carroll Shelby – Creator of the Iconic Shelby Cobra

Mustang Week concludes today here at the CRO Blog. This week, we looked at the History of the Mustang, gave you our thoughts on the Top Three Mustangs in History, how the 1968 GT350 was featured in the movie “Bull Durham” and compared the 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt to the 1965 Shelby GT350. Today we feature one of the greatest car designers in history, Carroll Shelby.

If Carroll Shelby had never taken the Ford Mustang to greater heights nor created the iconic Shelby Cobra and GT350, he still would have a place in the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame.


Racing Success

Carroll ShelbyCarroll Shelby defied the odds to become a world-class race car driver as he suffered from heart disease while growing up in Dallas, Texas. After a stint as a pilot in World War II and running a couple of businesses in Dallas, Shelby began his racing career in 1952. He often had to take nitroglycerin pills at high speed in an effort to stay alive during races. Shelby carved out a successful racing career until retiring from competition in 1960. In that span, Shelby broke the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1954 and won the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans in 1960. He was named by Sports Illustrated magazine as “Sports Car Driver of the Year” in 1956 and “Driver of the Year” in 1957.


Shelby’s Passion for Design

Shelby’s heart condition forced him to end his racing career in 1960, but he stayed in the game by designing some of the most successful racecars. His first design was the Shelby Cobra, which took both the U.S. and European auto circuits by storm. The Shelby-American racing team won the prestigious FIA World Championship in 1965. His team also won the LeMans 24 Hour race in 1966 driving a Ford GT40. Next up was a partnership with Ford Motor Company to develop the popular Mustang GT-350 model GT350. Ford won the Trans-Am Manufacturer’s title with the GT-350 Mustang in 1966, and later that year, the auto manufacturer started selling the car to the public.


Giving Back

Following a successful heart transplant, Shelby created the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation. The foundation was launched in 1991 to provide assistance for young people needing acute coronary and kidney care. In 2009, the organization expanded to include children from birth through their school years. The foundation has raised money worldwide and launched initiatives to provide educational scholarships for students to enhance their lives and provide opportunities in the automotive field. It has also helped many youths undergo coronary surgeries. Shelby passed away in 2012.

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