Austin Timmons Miss Downes English IV 3B 17 September 2001 Cobra Man Carroll Shelby is one of the all time greatest race car drivers, and car designers of all time. He has achieved many great things in his lifetime, and helped a great deal of people along the way. To put it plainly, Carroll Shelby is one of the few automotive geniuses left, as well as a true legend.
Carroll was born to father Warren Shelby, and mother Eloise Lawrence-Shelby, on January 11, 1923, in Leesburg, Texas. Early on young Carroll developed a love for Automobiles. He often rode with his father helping Warren on his rural postal route. His father also introduced him to auto racing. The two of them would often times spend hours together at the track. When Carroll was seven, his family moved to Dallas, Texas he completed his high school career in Dallas, and then enlisted in the United States Air Force, and served the duration of the war as a flight instructor, as well as a test pilot.
This work with high-powered machines just boosted his interest in going fast. After the war ended, Carroll decided to go into business running a small fleet of dump trucks. This failed, so he tried his hand at chickens. This also failed miserably, so Shelby returned to his love, racing. Carroll made his debut at a local drag strip with his 1932 Ford. Having success for a change, he moved on to sports car racing, and continued his success.
Continued success on the track was inevitable, and good competition, as well as money from amateur car racing, was getting hard to come by. So naturally, Shelby accepted a position on a factory race team racing in Europe where it paid more. He had unbelievable success, and was named, "Sports Car Driver of the Year" by Sports Illustrated magazine in 1956 and 1957. He then landed a job driving for Aston-Martin, with whom he won the very prestigious, and very grueling twenty-four hour race at Le MansHe returned to the United States in 1960, cutting his career short due to heart problems he had since birth. With no career to fall back on he tried his hand at the chili business. He purchases thousands of acres of land and started the original Texas Chili Company. He eventually sold the farm and it still operates as the Texas Chili Company. Again with no job and little money, Carroll decided to return to his passion, this time not as a driver, but as a business man. He learned that AC Cars of England had lost its engine supplier, so he called Ford and Coaxed them into thirty engines and ten thousand dollars cash to fund his project. Shelby-American Car Cooperation was Born. When they agreed he quickly went to work and the Cobra was created. Classed as an American car, with a hybrid style consisting of a light body and high powered engine, it was quickly deemed the fastest car in the world. Shelby's group of mechanics were not through, The tinkered with the 289 cubic inch engine until it was so fast that the companies cars won the FIA Manufacturers Grand Touring Championship in 1965, and became the first American car to do so. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company released the Mustang. This car was marketed as a sports car, and was very sporty looking; however, it lacked the performance that the Chevrolet Corvette had. Ford turned to the Shelby-American team. In 1965, Shelby unleashed the GT350. This was a hardtop Mustang with racing stripes, a modified suspension, and a sleek fastback look. It was powered by the same 289 cubic inch motor that the cobras used. The car was an instant hit both on and off the track. For the more serious racing applications, Shelby released the GT350R. This car had no modifications to the body, however it was equipped with a better tuned engine, and a sportier, racing suspension. On the track the GT350 was an instant hit. More often than not GT's were in the front of the pack. Due to this success on the track the cars sold as quickly as they could be produced. In 1967, the Ford Motor Company again called on Shelby to build another car to fit the trend of bigger engines and faster cars. Shelby responded by modifying the GT350 frame and body. What they came up with was called the GT500, this asphalt eating beauty harbored a 428 cubic inch engine. Later the same year Shelby upped the GT350 to a 351 cubic inch motor and the GT500 was boosted to a Cobra Jet 428. Then in 1970, Ford severed ties with Shelby-American and continued with the production of its "Boss" 302, and "Boss" 429. By this time Shelby was rather wealthy, and not much went on at Shelby-American besides racing engine production, as well as a replacement parts division for restoring his dream machines.
Later on in life, at the age of 63, Shelby received a call from the Chrysler cooperation. They asked Carroll to beef up their Lancers, Chargers, Omnis, Daytonas, and Dakotas. He started out by adding racing stripes and then adding turbo chargers and engine modifications until they were street machines. He was successful, but suffered a heart attack and received a transplant. This inspired him to create the Carroll Shelby Childrens Foundation. This Foundation is one which helps underprivledged children with heart or kidney problems. Shelby takes his program to heart and considers it his best gift to society. He routinely holds fund raisers for it which include golf outings and autograph sessions. Once back at Chrysler however, Carroll still dreams of building the ultimate performance car. Chrysler understands and is given a 100,000,000 dollar budget and produces the Dodge Viper. The modern Street machine is reminiscent of his previous works and similarities to the Cobra can be seen on the Viper. Shelby still manufactures custom engines, and even replica Cobra parts, which includes fiberglass bodies for as little as forty thousand dollars. Currently, Shelby-America has announced plans for a Shelby Series 1, A high performance street machine, meant to make one go back in time to when the muscle cars ruled the road.
In conclusion, Carroll Shelby has been, and continues to be a very influential and generous man. He has been recognized in a number of hall of fames, and still shows no signs of slowing down. His plans are to complete the Series 1 project, and pass on knowing that his work will continue to be admired by auto enthusiasts, as well as the general public. Also he is glad to have the opportunity to touch a few children's lives in the process. To sum up the man he is an all around role model and an auto racing legend.