Carroll Shelby

by Ian Donaldson

Carroll Shelby, with Ford GT 40 MK IV (Internet)
Carroll Shelby, with Ford GT 40 MK IV (Internet)

Carroll Shelby is an automotive icon in racing, team managing, and manufacturing. Carroll was born and raised in Texas, and always had a fascination with cars. After serving in the army in world war two, he started a chicken farm and other businesses that wouldn't pan out. Thats when he decided to take his racing hobby to a more serious level. After racing in borrowed cars with much success he would catch the eye of the Aston Martin team manager in the mid 1950's. He along with teammate Roy Salvadori would in the 1958 Le Mans 24 hours race for Aston Martin. His incredible racing career would come to a premature end, when he was diagnosed with angina. Determined to get back onto the racing circuit, after a short stint teaching want-to-be drivers, he started thinking about making his own car.  He would go to AC, for one of their old chassis. AC is a British manufacturing company, turned Wheelchair Company after going bankrupt. Shelby would take this lightweight chassis, and stick in a Ford V8 for the power. After building this car up, he took a few to the grand 24 hours at Le Mans. These roadsters would turn out to be not aerodynamic enough for the race, even with the 427 big block, the Cobras were no match for Ferrari. After a redesign of the same chassis and motor, but with a new aerodynamic body, Shelby was ready to take on Sebring, Daytona, and once again Le Mans. He would win Sebring to achieve funding for Le Mans, at which he would also be victorious. He would be victorious the next year, before Ford brought him in to design a new and even faster car. Ford had tried without assistance, but the car was a failure. Shelby made the necessary improvements and the Ford GT 40 would be the car to clean up on the international circuit. Later Shelby would go on to develop this car more, then work with Dodge and Ford on some mass-produced muscle cars.

Carroll Shelby is a hero to me because he was a man who beat the odds to follow his dreams. It must be noted that one of his two heart transplants (the first) was preformed at a time when the average life expectancy past this was under ten years. He made it many years past his expected lifespan, living to create iconic cars such as the Ford Mustang, and Dodge viper. He also made history in racing, from manufacturing to driving, and even to leading a team. Any person who has a slight interest in cars has to recognize Shelby as a hero to the automotive world.

Shelby is important to me, because he not only became an automotive icon but an inspiration to anyone involved in the automotive world. He changed the face of the sport, proving that a health condition, of which he had many, can't stop a passion. He took an old British chassis and a big v8 and made a car, nothing fancy, but it still beat the leader of American racing, the Corvette in the American racing championship. He then improved the car in making the Daytona coupe, and he took the world championship. A chicken farmer from Texas was able to beat the might of automotive racing, Ferrari, at the hardest race in the world. This is a true David and Goliath story taken to a whole new level.

Page created on 1/14/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/14/2012 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Carroll Shelby, an American icon - a brief history of Carroll Shelby
The MY HERO Gallery - For the MY HERO Gallery Page dedicated to Carroll Shelby, also by Ian.