A Life Well Lived
Carroll Hall Shelby, a man whose vision for performance transformed the automobile industry, has died at age 89, his company, Carroll Shelby International, said today. Mr. Shelby passed yesterday at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.
Born on January 11, 1923, in East Texas, Shelby is considered one of the truly great American success stories of the 20th century. Race car driver, WWII "Flying Sergeant", philanthropist, automotive entrepreneur and racing team owner, he came to embody the ingenuity, tenacity and grit needed to win during his 60+ year career.
The son of a postal worker in the hamlet of Leesburg, Texas, Shelby attended high school in Dallas and joined the Army to fight in World War II. After serving as an aviator in the war, he returned home to Texas where he dabbled in business with a dump truck operation, a chicken farm and a sports car dealership. It was while he co-owned the Dallas dealership with fellow Texans Jim and Dick Hall that Shelby first tasted car manufacturing. Together, they created a handful of "Scaglietti Corvettes" that were based on GM's roadster.
Meanwhile, he began to feed his obsession for speed. Shelby's first race was at a drag strip in a 1932 Ford. Moving on to road courses, he raced throughout the USA in his spare time. When all of his chickens died of limberneck disease, Shelby moved into the cockpit as a career.
Once on his way to a race, Shelby had to wear his work clothes from the farm to make the start time. When his odd racing attire netted him more attention and publicity than his victory, Shelby made the striped bib coveralls his trademark.
In just a few short years, he became a dominant figure on the racing scene. He was courted by the top car manufacturers in the world to drive for them, including Ferrari. Shelby captured three national sports car championships in the United States, earned a spot on the Aston-Martin team in Europe, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and set land speed records at Bonneville Salt Flats. Twice, he was named Sports Illustrated's "Driver of the Year."
Read Carroll Shelby's full obituary here.
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