Carroll Shelby, the man behind one the most revered nameplates in automotive history, passed away on May 10, 2012 at the age of 89. Shelby was famous for such cars as the Shelby Cobra sports car and for his many projects with the Ford Mustang.
“Carroll is sort of like the car world’s Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays,” Jay Leno once told The New York Times back 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.”
Initially a racer that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, becoming the second American-born driver to ever do so, Shelby’s name became infamous with the introduction of the Cobra in 1962. When Ford created the Mustang in 1964, the man was specifically asked to create a special, high-performance version for racing. The rest, as they say, is history.
Shelby was also involved heavily in the creation of the Dodge Viper and Ford GT supercar, credentials that were also considered with his induction into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
The legacy of Shelby carries on with the Carroll Shelby International organization, which will continue to make high-performance Mustangs and contribute to motorsports and aftermarket tuning industries.