• May 11th 2012 at 8:00PM
  • 43
It's darn near impossible to overemphasize the impact that Carroll Shelby has had on the automotive world as we know it today. Born in 1923, Shelby took part in his very first race, a quarter-mile drag, in 1952. Later that year, he'd go on to win his first road race in an MG-TC. By 1956, Shelby had garnered enough race wins to earn the title "Driver of the Year" from Sports Illustrated. He would win that award again in 1957.

Carroll Shelby was nothing if not a keen businessman. In early 1957, Shelby opened his first car dealership in Dallas, Texas. Bolstered by his success behind the wheel – Carroll won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959, driving an Aston Martin – Shelby went on to build the iconic Cobra using a chassis built by AC Cars in England and powered by a Ford V8 engine. Officially homologated in 1962, the Cobra Roadster won its first race in January of 1963.

Driven by legendary drivers like Phil Hill, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, the Shelby Cobra and its aerodynamic Daytona Coupe sibling won the Sports Car Club of America's A-production title and the United States Road Racing Championship in '63. The following year brought with it the big-block 427 Cobra, and the machine went on to deal serious blows to Ferrari, the dominant sports car manufacturer of the time.

Shelby began his long-running relationship with the Ford factory in 1965, as the Shelby GT350 hit both the street and the race track. That year, Shelby secured the FIA World Championship of GT cars. In 1966, a Shelby-backed Ford team finished in first, second and third place at Le Mans; this was the first time an American team claimed victory in the historic race, but it would not be the last – Shelby's team would go on to win Le Mans again in 1967. The Ford GT40 ended up in first place four straight years from 1966-1969.

The Shelby GT350 claimed the Trans Am racing title in 1967, and in that year, the very last 427 Shelby Cobra was built. In 1970, Ford ended its partnership with Shelby, and the man would remain mostly quiet in the automotive industry until the 1980s, when Lee Iacocca approached Carroll about building high-performance versions of Dodge products. The Omni and Charger would Go Like Hell for several years, embarrassing V8-powered Mustangs and Camaros along the way.

Carroll Shelby received a heart transplant in 1990 and would go on to reintroduce Cobra 427 S/C continuation cars and 4000-series cars throughout the 1990s. Shelby was also involved heavily with both the Dodge Viper and Ford GT programs. No wonder why Carroll Shelby was inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Today, the name Shelby may be most often tied to the latest and greatest GT500 models from Ford, but it's clear that the man has impacted the performance world for decades. While he may no longer be alive, there can be little doubt that Carroll Shelby's influence will be felt by enthusiasts for as long as cars move us from one place to another.

We've collected a couple of videos that we thought were a fitting tribute to Shelby's unending legacy. Join us in watching them by scrolling down below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nearly 50% of this post is flat wrong. He won Le Mans in '59 not '69. The first "real" Cobra win was in February '63 (though it had won *many* non-FIA/sanctioned races in '62). The Cobra Coupe didn't come along until '64, not '63. His history with Ford was well known and predated '65 by years... Given his historic legacy, I don't think this stuff is semantics. And really, doesn't the old fella's accomplishments deserve better?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, it does. I continue to be underwhelmed by this site during these important events. RIP Mr. Shelby and thank you for your awesomeness and incredible legacy of cars and in motorsports.
      • 3 Years Ago
      He deserves a 21 revving 427 V8 salute. Goodbye Mr Shelby...we will miss you.
      Zero 1
      • 3 Years Ago
      The story and legacy this man left behind is something to be admired and learned from. He will be missed.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have incredible appreciation for Mr. Shelby's contributions to the motoring world, from the Shelby Cobra to the Ford GT40 all the way to his modern interpretations...he was a breath of fresh air in the stale automotive hierarchy . He will be sorely missed, but through his incredible cars his legacy will live on forever.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Safe journey Mr. Shelby; may your road always be fast and the sun at your back. Thank you for the most awesome cars a teenager could ask for in the 70's; when muscle cars ruled!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Rest in peace, Mr. Shelby.
      Kent Kangley
      • 3 Years Ago
      Godspeed, Carroll Shelby. You left the automotive world a better place than you found it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not how I expected to start off my morning. . . . RIP
      Craig Zinn
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why does the history of Ol Shel not mention the one year he ran the Toyota 2000GT SCCA team to 2nd place group C losing the final race to a Triumph?1968 Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan were the hottest up and coming team Shelby had but Ford kept the media focused on their association as Toyota cancelled the team after just one year. The Shelby 2000gts are the most valuable Japaneese cars ever made.there are only 2. One is in Florida and one is in Maine.
      • 3 Years Ago
      R I P Carrol Shelby. I will do a burnout in your honor.
      • 3 Years Ago
      oh no. this makes me very sad. thank you for your passion and idea(l)s mr. shelby...may we remember them always. R.I.P.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thanks for all the Memories, Shel ! Even your enemies admired you, nobody I know has done it better or longer ! Regrets to the Family.
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