Welcome to Sunday Matinee, where we highlight classic car reviews or other longer videos we find on YouTube. Kick back and enjoy this blast from the past.
From the shop, to the test track, to winning endurance races. It’s always fun to see behind-the-scenes footage from racing operations, but behind-the-scenes footage narrated by Carroll Shelby? Even better.
And if you didn’t already know, Shelby is full of quotable material. This entire 16-minute video could practically be a block quote to put on an inspirational poster for your wall.
Other than the quote-worthy material, the video itself is a fun look into the history of an iconic name in the racing and automotive realms. Shelby discusses his own personal racing history, which started with dirt-car racing in his home state of Texas. He also mentions one of his biggest victories—the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1959, which occurred just before health problems halted his racing career in 1960. (There’s a detailed timeline of Shelby’s life and career on this website.)
Retirement was pretty disenchanting for Shelby, and he learned that “there’s nothing lower than an ex-race driver—unless it’s a busted ex-race driver.” And because he enjoyed sports-car competition so much, Shelby wanted to build a sports car that more than just race-car drivers could own and enjoy driving.
But he had practically no capital.
Ford agreed to help him build the Shelby Cobra, and it was all history from there. The manufacturer dominated the 1965 Daytona Continental 2000 with Ford GTs and Cobras and won road-racing championships, and the great Ford-Ferrari rivalry was in full swing. As for modern-day competition, the new Ford GT makes its racing debut at Daytona’s Rolex 24 later this month.
The video also shows plenty of testing out at Willow Springs International Raceway, focusing on the importance of a smooth racing line—and using purposeful spinning to demonstrate how not to do it.
And alongside the testing, Shelby tells us: “Most people who enjoy motor racing find the more they learn about it, the more they study good driving techniques, the more interesting the sport is to them.” Next time you hear complaints from the “all they do is make left (and right) turns!” people, tell them that.
As for other examples of his quotable material, there’s also this: “A great driver will study the circuit the way a golfer will study a putting green.” Smooth.
Great drivers will also throw stuff, like some of us are known to do with golf clubs when we get mad about the putt that should have gone in. (Am I right, or am I right?)
But above all others, perhaps this is the Shelby quote you want to put on your wall: “Whatever success we find, we’ll also find our share of disappointments. Motor racing is that way—it’s a rich mixture of heartache and joy ... Whatever the outcome, racing becomes a never-ending pursuit of excellence.”
Well said, Shelby. Well said.
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