What People Are Saying About Carroll Shelby

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From the time he was a child, Carroll Shelby was into cars. After a brief but understandable diversion into airplanes during World War II, Shelby eventually made his way back to his passion, racing and later building some of the world's fastest cars.

He touched the lives of many people along the way, so we've scoured the internet for what some of them have said, and are saying, about this American automotive icon since his passing on Thursday.


Lee Iacocca, an automotive legend in his own right, said Shelby was pestering him for money to build the original Cobra, and was so persistent that "I finally gave him the money to get him out of my office."

And he had to fend off another giant, his eventual friend Robert E. Petersen, founder of Motor Trend and Hot Rod magazines, for the affections of a woman. Petersen saw himself as merely taking advantage of an opportunity. Shelby recalled it as a work of infamy: "He'd tell her, 'You don't want to go around with a chicken farmer. And he'll lose (races), anyway.'"


USA Today

"We are all deeply saddened, and feel a tremendous sense of loss for Carroll's family, ourselves and the entire automotive industry," said Joe Conway, president of Carroll Shelby International, Inc. and board member. "There has been no one like Carroll Shelby and never will be. However, we promised Carroll we would carry on, and he put the team, the products and the vision in place to do just that."


—release from Shelby American, Inc.

"He's an icon in the medical world and an icon in the automotive world," his longtime friend, Dick Messer, executive director of Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum, once said of Shelby. "His legacy is the diversity of his life. He's incredibly innovative. His life has always been the reinvention of Carroll Shelby."


Associated Press

"He was the only individual to influence the designs of all three major American automakers. Everything he touched became legendary," said Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. "Even recently he was working on an experimental engine."


L.A. Times

"I used to ride my bicycle to the old bullrings around Dallas when I was a kid, 12 or 14 years old," he recalled decades later. "So I've always had my interest in cars, that's always been my No. 1 interest."

"Old Man Ferrari offered me a job and I said, ‘Well, Mr. Ferrari, I have a family, three children, what kinda money?' He says, ‘Oh, it's an honor to drive for Ferrari.' And I said, ‘Well, I'm sorry, I can't afford the honor.' And I had a deal with John Wyer, anyway, and I had another deal with Maserati. I had a choice of four or five different offers. So I turned Ferrari down."

"The Texan is a first-rate conductor and takes his motor racing extremely seriously," concluded Gregor Grant, founder and editor of Britain's Autosport magazine, after watching the lanky Yankee run the 1955 Targa Florio in a Ferrari Monza. He was a "hard worker . . . who goes to bed with the hundreds of corners imprinted in his mind." And his driving was "clean as a whistle."

Team manager Smith spoke of his fellow Carroll fondly as "the best man I ever worked for-the only man I could ever work for. He has leadership qualities; he can inspire you to do more than you're capable of doing. He gives everyone an enormous amount of rope, picks the right people and leaves 'em alone to get on with it. Keeps the BS and the politics away from the racers."



"Carroll is sort of like the car world's Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays," Jay Leno, who owned three Shelby cars, told The New York Times in 2003. "Unlike so many racers, he didn't come from a rich family, so he signifies that Everyman, common-sense ideal. When I was a kid, American cars were big, clunky things, until Carroll used his ingenuity to make them compete with European cars."


New York Times

"Often seen in a black cowboy hat and sport coat, Shelby was best known for his namebrand Cobras and Mustangs, but he enjoyed a successful racing career in the 1950s before health worries forced him to retire. In his last year of driving, 1959, Shelby won the 24 Hours of LeMans in an Aston Martin.

By 1963, the Texas native and onetime chicken farmer was racing his Cobras on European tracks against Ferrari, Porsche and Jaguar teams. In 1965, he won the Grand Touring World Championship and then won LeMans in a Shelby Ford GT40 in 1966 and 1967.

In later years Shelby founded Carroll Shelby International and Shelby American, a car company which unveiled its 1,000-horsepower Shelby 1000 Mustang at the New York Auto Show last month."



The race is run, the flag unfurled, the champion now will rest. God speed, Carroll Shelby, we will never forget...


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