Shelby, Carroll Hall

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Carroll Hall Shelby, 1923–2012, automobile racer and designer, b. Leesburg, Tex. After serving as a flight instructor in World War II, he began (1952) a career as a race-car driver. He was Sports Illustrated's Sports Car Driver of the Year in 1956 and 1957 and, driving for the Aston Martin team, was co-winner of the 1959 Le Mans 24-hour race. After leaving racing due to a heart ailment, he turned to race-car design, founding (1962) Shelby American. That year he began building the Shelby Cobra, using the chassis and body of an English AC roadster and a Ford V-8 engine; the Cobra captured the 1963 U.S. Road Racing championship and the 1965 large-engine class of the international Grand Touring championship. His Ford GT40 won the Le Mans Grand Prix in 1966 and 1967. Shelby developed now coveted hot-rod versions of the Mustang for Lee Iacocca at Ford, and later developed high-performance cars for Iacocca at Chrysler, contributing to the Dodge Charger and Viper. In the 21st cent. he again teamed with Ford, producing new versions of the Mustang.