On May 10, 2012, the automotive industry, racing and engineering lost a true icon – Carroll Hall Shelby. For those of us who heard of this legendary man, he was and still is the driving force behind two of the most recognized sports cars in automotive history: the AC Cobras and the Shelby Cobra Mustangs. Rather than writing about his exploits as car manufacturer, which everyone has written extensively in the past few weeks, let’s examine some little known facts that add to the Carroll Shelby mystic.
1. During World War II, Shelby was an Army flight Instructor and Test Pilot and when he left the Army Air Corp., his rank was Staff Sargent Pilot.
2. Shelby tried his hand at chicken farming in 1952 with initial success but went out of business when all his chickens contracted and died from limber-neck disease.
3. In 1956 and 1957, Carroll Shelby was named “Driver of the Year” by Sports Illustrated.
4. Carroll Shelby drove for Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Call-Allard from 1952 to 1960.
5. In 1959, Carroll Shelby co-drove an Aston Martin DBR1/300 winning the 24 Hours of LeMans.
6. In 1954, Carroll Shelby set 70 new Class D records at the Bonneville Salt Flats with Austin-Healey.
7. In 1955, Shelby drove at Sebring wearing a special cast on one arm and had his hand taped to the steering wheel.
8. During the 1962 automotive press tour for the CSX 2000 (the first AC Cobra), the lone vehicle was repainted a different color before each magazine test in order to give the appearance of multiple produced cars.
9. In 1968, Don Prudhomme drove a Shelby produced Ford Cammer-powered rail that was introduced at the NHRA Winternationals and which “the Snake” campaigned with throughout the season.
10. According to Shelby, the “GLH” moniker on the 1984 to 1986 Dodge Omni GLH stood for “Goes Like Hell”.
Now maybe you knew these tidbits about the man and maybe you didn’t, one thing is for certain. Carroll Shelby did more in his lifetime than most people ever dream about. He created a legacy in the automotive industry that will never be equaled. He created a legacy in automotive racing that will not be surpassed. He took his own ingenuity, desire and sheer will to shape and carve out a place for the United States in the International Automotive Racing and Performance fields.