Carroll Shelby, the legendary car designer and champion auto racer who built the fabled Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford’s Mustang and Chrysler’s Viper, has died. He was 89.
I personally met the man at a historic racing event several years ago, having him sign a poster to me in support of his charity. There was not much of a crowd that day and he seemed to be a very warm “real” guy, excited that he was at the event. A Shelby Reunion event was held last month at the NHRA Museum in his honor, but his illness kept him away. I will share my photos of the event shortly.
Mr. Shelby was one of the nation’s longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year-old who died of an aneurysm. Mr. Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael.
The 1992 inductee into the Automotive Hall of Fame had homes in Los Angeles and his native east Texas.
The onetime chicken farmer had more than a half-dozen successful careers during his long life. Among them: champion race car driver, racing team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, safari tour operator, raconteur, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“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 Mr. Shelby.