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Carroll ShelbyCarroll 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:

Photo Ford

Comments
May 14, 2012 at 10:03 am
(1) Hawaiian Don says:

I missed hearing about his passing. He was the first performance car icon in my life. My first car was a Mustang with a Cobra Jet engine. Anything, no matter how far removed, that had anything related to him had magic or a certain electricity around it. If someone asked me about that car, first thing I would say, ” Cobra Jet engines are Carroll Shelby inspired”. That would be enough said.
His mid sixties Cobra sports car is still one of the 3 most revered cars ever and defines the term, ” a pure high performance sports car”.
Now that he’s on God’s race team, you can bet there’s a whole lot more excitement up there!!!

May 14, 2012 at 10:03 am
(2) Hawaiian Don says:

I missed hearing about his passing. He was the first performance car icon in my life. My first car was a Mustang with a Cobra Jet engine. Anything, no matter how far removed, that had anything related to him had magic or a certain electricity around it. If someone asked me about that car, first thing I would say, ” Cobra Jet engines are Carroll Shelby inspired”. That would be enough said.
His mid sixties Cobra sports car is still one of the 3 most revered cars ever and defines the term, ” a pure high performance sports car”.
Now that he’s on God’s race team, you can bet there’s a whole lot more excitement up there!!!

May 15, 2012 at 1:51 am
(3) Jay says:

Carroll Shelby has passed away but the man has left a legacy that makes anyone associated with one of the cars that bears his name proud. I’m sure there’s always a little extra to a story when a father and son are sitting with a Shelby Mustang in the garage on the weekend or at he classic car show on a nice summer night. People will smile, laugh and know how special the name Carroll Shelby is on the car that they own. In performance and style Carroll Shelby has given us something in the automobiles he’s built that ties generations together. I’d like to say so much more about a man I never met, but I think a lot of other people would too.

May 17, 2012 at 9:34 am
(4) Steve Wilson says:

In life we have people that impact us to an extent not realized until their passing. Mr. Shelby was such a gentlemen. My son and I would always love to see a vehicle that had Mr. Shelby’s name on it. The automotive industry lost a great person, a man that gave a lot of his time to give thanks to all that wanted his autograph, he never forgot where he came from and the people that bought his product to get him there. God bless you Mr. Shelby, you will surely be missed.

May 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm
(5) Pete says:

He was the epitome of a gentlemen, genius, visionary, legend, the definition of American Hot Rodding, and a generous, decent man.
RIP.

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