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September 19th, 2007

Shelby drives John Edgar’s Ferrari 410 Sport s/n 0598CM at Palm Springs in November 1956. He won this Main after a race-long duel with Phil Hill in a Ferrari Monza. Only two of these special 24-plug 410s were made. This one had been built expressly for Fangio, with accelerator between clutch and brake pedals.

Story by William Edgar

Photos courtesy of Edgar Motorsport Archive

Over the years Carroll Shelby has proven to be a self-taught, no-nonsense entrepreneur who became an American icon and international motorsport legend. A Texan who rose from being a bankrupt chicken farmer to automotive superstar, Shelby thinks of himself as one who builds “affordable cars that are respected and can beat the competition.”

Carroll Shelby at a recent Fabulous Fifties banquet in Los Angeles paying tribute to former Riverside Raceway boss and football legend, Les Richter. Shelby enjoys gatherings that honor his motorsport peers.

To pay tribute to this untiring achiever who’s always looked beyond life’s limits, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will host "An Evening with Carroll Shelby," on Thursday evening, November 8, 2007.

Carroll’s wife, Cleo, applauds her husband at last year’s Fabulous Fifties Concours d’Provenance held at Shelby American in Gardena, California, where the two were hosts to 600 enthusiasts.

Shelby drives the Edgar-entered Maserati 300S s/n 3071 at Laguna Seca’s inaugural in November 1957. He took the Preliminary, but tangled with hay bales here in the Main won by Pete Lovely in a Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa ahead of John von Neumann’s Ferrari 625 TRC.

During the 1950s, Carroll carved a name for himself in sports-cars, earning national SCCA and USAC Road Racing Championship titles driving some of the era’s biggest and best Ferraris and Maseratis. “Those early days,” he says now, “are always ours, always fabulous.” He had a go at Grand Prix racing and later in 1959 finished first overall at Le Mans with co-driver Roy Salvadori in David Brown’s Aston Martin DBR1. The following year Carroll won the Los Angeles Examiner Grand Prix at Riverside in a Camoradi-entered Birdcage Maserati, but within six months heart trouble halted his professional driving career when he had to swallow nitroglycerine during a torrid race at Laguna Seca in another Birdcage. From that day he was forced to make a decision—if he could no longer drive, he would build.

A triumphant Shelby at Palm Springs in November 1956, after winning the SCCA National. Film actor Susan Cummings presented him with the lei and trophy. Emblematic of “Shelby the Winner,” this famous image was shot by one of the period’s best photogs, Lester Nehamkin.

Shelby saw opportunities in the handsome AC Bristol. He quickly turned Charles Hurlock’s British AC roadster into what he once dreamed he’d call it—“Cobra”. Initially enlisting former driving competitors Bill Krause, Ken Miles, Dan Gurney and Phil Hill, among others, his Shelby American Team Cobras eventually won the FIA International Championship for GT Cars, ending Enzo Ferrari’s lengthy dominance of the category in 1965.

Shelby drives Edgar’s Maserati 450S s/n 4506 at Riverside Raceway in November 1957. After an early spin, he charged back through the field to his amazing victory in the Main. Dan Gurney’s second gave the new kid instant fame.

At an astonishing pace, “Ol’ Shel” built his Cobra roadster and Daytona Coupe, as well as GT350 and GT500 Mustangs, and “427” edition Cobra. He ran the Ford GT racing program, finishing 1-2-3 at Le Mans in 1966. Afterward, creating quick cars for Chrysler, he did prototype work on the Viper, then drove one to pace the Indy 500 less than a year after his overdue heart transplant in 1990—a life crisis motivating him to institute the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation. Today he’s unveiled a new Ford Shelby Cobra, while showrooms offer the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500, GT500KR and Super Snake Mustangs. Says Shelby of his distinctive signature cars, “I like the real stuff in life—replicas give me hives.”

Dapper in his 1960s suit and tie, a successful Shelby riding the crest of fame posed for this promotional photo with a Shelby Ford GT350 and Shelby Cobra roadster. He was already a household name around the world.

This November 8th, when the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles honors Shelby and his on-going career with a gala buffet dinner and evening’s program of personality interviews and exciting racing footage—including an auction of prized memorabilia—it will indeed be a night to remember. Racing’s acclaimed Dave McClelland will be master of ceremonies. In addition to his wife Cleo and members of the Shelby family, invited pals and colleagues of Carroll Shelby include: Bob Bondurant, Amy Boylan, Luigi Chinetti Jr, Steve Earle, Edsel Ford, Art Evans, AJ Foyt, Dave Friedman, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Barron Hilton, Bruce Kessler, Bill Krause, Mike McCluskey, Denise McCluggage, John Morton, Wally Parks, Ron Parravano, Bill Pollack, Margie Petersen, Sam Posey, Ruth Levy Raymond, Phil Remington, Roy Salvadori, Lew Spencer and Cy Yedor. A variety of historic race cars made famous by Shelby and his drivers will be on display, along with his very latest achievements—the newly manufactured 2008 Shelby Mustangs. A unique centerpiece will be the very first production Shelby Cobra, CSX2001, being restored for this occasion through the car’s owner and Chairman of the Petersen’s Checkered Flag 200 Group, Bruce Meyer.

Shelby Cobra roadster s/n CSX2001 undergoing restoration by Mike McCluskey in California. This first production Cobra will be on display at the Petersen Museum for the tribute dinner, "An Evening with Carroll Shelby." Only Shelby himself owns an earlier Cobra, Prototype s/n CSX2000.

No one has lived the varied life of motorsport quite like Shelby. He’s known fame and feuds, accolades and scorn, heart transplant and years of phenomenal prowess. Through it all, never a quitter, he’s remained a tough but fair competitor to admire and respect. It’s been a long and colorful journey for him since learning to drive on the back roads of his native Texas—and there’s no end in sight for this gifted and witty champ who’s still at work every day. Shelby says it best, and only as he can: “I’m lucky to be able to do that at nearly 85 years old, and intend to keep on doing it until I go horizontal.”

Shelby posed last year at his Gardena event behind the ex-Edgar Ferrari 410 Sport with his arm around its current owner, Roger Willbanks of Denver, Colorado. Asked by Willbanks to sign the 410’s gas tank, Shelby scrawled with a Sharpie … “Mr. Ferrari told me that this was the best Ferrari he ever built.”

Previous Petersen Museum tributes have been sell-outs, meaning early ticket purchase is a must for "An Evening with Carroll Shelby," with Carroll and his honored guests. To guarantee admission, please call The Checkered Flag 200 office at 323-964-6306 for reserved ticket purchase. Ticket prices are $100 per person for Petersen Automotive Museum members, $125 per person for non-members. Ticket price includes dinner, program, and parking. A cash bar will be available. Tickets are not mailed. Reservations will be held at the door.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90036, with enclosed parking and Museum entrance just south of Wilshire on Fairfax Avenue.

The event is sponsored by Ford Motor Company, and presented by the Checkered Flag 200 Group of the Petersen Automotive Museum. For further Museum information online, please visit www.

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