Carroll Shelby, famed racer and car designer best known for his AC Cobras and Mustangs -- not to mention a series of wicked front-wheel-drive Chrysler products -- passed away this past Friday at the age of 89.
Unlike many of my lucky colleagues, I never got a chance to meet Carroll Shelby in person; luckily, I have a friend who knew him -- John Clinard, a forty-year Ford veteran. I asked John if he would share some memories. John wrote about the first time he met Carroll Shelby, in the pits at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1967:
"As you would imagine, the place was a beehive of activity that Carroll was presiding over, but, when Bill and I were introduced to him, he focused entirely on us as if we were the only people in the world. Here I was, a college kid he had never heard of, and he listened intently while I told him of a friend's GT350 I had recently driven. As you would imagine, that moment won me over to Carroll Shelby. That this man with a million more important things on his mind would so focus on me was unforgettable."
Five years later, John started his career at the Ford Motor Company, and would up spending a lot of time with Mr. Shelby.
"Through all of these encounters, Carroll was the consummate ambassador, giving everyone the same attention I had experienced decades earlier. His autograph was gladly written on countless glovebox doors, t-shirts, model cars, and anything else that fans brought to him. All of this spoke to his undying enthusiasm for his cause and love for people."
For more of John's insights into Carroll Shelby, please check out the essay that John was kind enough to write for this site, Carroll Shelby Remembered.
Rest in peace, Mr. Shelby, and thank you for all you did for us gearheads! -- Aaron Gold
More about Carroll Shelby:
- The Iconic Man: Carroll Hall Shelby by Sean Philips, About.com Tires
- A Profile of Carroll Shelby by Jonathan Lamas, About.com Mustangs
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