Carroll Shelby has passed away in Dallas, Texas at the age of 89. Stirling and Susie extend their condolences to his wife Cleo, their three children, family and friends. “We have lost a real friend and a great man” said Stirling on hearing the sad news.
Shelby first made his name as a successful racing car driver, in the 1950’s. “We often drove for the same team” recalled Stirling, which included racing for Aston Martin. Shelby would win the 1959 Le Mans with his teammate Roy Salvadori, the first time Aston Martin won at La Sarthe.
His racing career was cut short after being diagnosed with a serious heart condition. He turned his attention to designing high-powered "muscle cars", mating a Ford V8 engine to a British AC roadster chassis, that car became the legendary Shelby Cobra.
In 1962, the Cobra was introduced at the New York Auto Show and Shelby's company began making the cars in California later that year. In 1964, he enjoyed further success at Le Man as a manufacturer, with his Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, driven by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant, winning the 5 litre GT class. In that same year Ford asked Shelby to develop a high-performance Mustang and work on the GT40 programme. This yielded success in 1966, with the Ford GT40 dominating that year’s Le Mans.
His collaboration with Ford ended in 1970’s. He then went onto work with Chrysler, where he revamped the K car and worked on the initial design of the Dodge Viper. He also worked on one of his own series 1 cars powered by an Oldsmobile engine, although Oldsmobile, a division for General Motors, did not take it up. In 2001 he renewed his relationship with Ford once more, his influence and name being carried through onto the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a fitting tribute to an automotive legend.
It is the racing though that Stirling will best remember Carroll Shelby for, stating “the racing world has lost one of the great characters”.