Carroll Shelby Tribute
Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
March 16, 2015

“My name’s Carroll Shelby and performance is my business.”

The story of how Carroll Shelby and his crew handed Enzo Ferrari his snooty Italian posterior at LeMans with the Ford GT40 in 1966 is the stuff of legend and the most chest-thumping appearances an all-American team ever had at a European race. Shelby was equally famous (maybe moreso) for his two other significant contributions to the Ford Motor Company and good ol’ American ingenuity and hot rodding, the Shelby Cobra and the GT350 Mustang.

The Cobra was a true hot rod—Shel took the fairly decent chassis of the A.C. Ace sports car (he preferred the singular term “sport car”) and replaced its weak-suck English engine for a small-block Ford, then later a 427 big-block, and kicked everybody’s tail at road races around the world. Following the Cobra was the Cobra Daytona Coupe, and when Ford was having issues with its Ferrari-baiting GT40, the automaker turned to Shelby American to work their magic on the car. The relationship Shelby had created with the top brass at Ford (some whose last names were actually Ford) led the automaker to give Shelby American the contract to build the GT350 Mustangs, both race and street versions. Yet again, it was the Texan racer-turned-Southern California hot rodder that built world-beaters out of stock street cars.

But you probably already know that whole story. What you may not have seen is the behind the scenes footage of the rigorous testing that Shelby and his team conducted on all three cars. We found this video on YouTube from 1966 that shows this testing of all three cars at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California, complete with heroes Pete Brock, Ken Miles, Dan Gurney, and Carroll himself along with the standard cheesy 1960s music. There’s also footage of the GT40’s wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona and Sebring 12 Hours, and ends with Carroll’s standup at an airport as a plastic-wrapped GT40 is about to be loaded on the plane to Europe and LeMans, and into immortality. It’s worth the 16 minutes of your time to check the video out. You won’t be disappointed.