Carroll Shelby has been one of America’s most prolific individuals for the past fifty years. Born in Leesburg, Texas, he enjoyed success in virtually every sports car and formula series in the world.
Shelby spent his formative years in North and East Texas. The son of a postman, he loved cars from the day his father first took him on a mail route. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, where he quickly gained a reputation as a fast driver. He even earned several speeding tickets from the local police for his love of speed.
If not for the hand of fate, Shelby might never have become a motorsports legend. After serving as an Army Air Corps flying sergeant, test pilot and instructor in World War II, he returned home to raise chickens in East Texas. The enterprise failed when the chickens contracted a disease and died over the course of a few days. Bankrupt, the coops were sold on the steps of the Dallas county courthouse.
Carroll Shelby started his racing career with a 1932 Ford in bib overall work clothes at an East Texas drag strip. A year later his motors were roaring past crowds of cheering fans as a member of the Aston-Martin team at the June 1954 Le Mans in Europe. A short time later, he broke land speed records at Bonneville in 1954 for Austin Healey and was Sports Car Illustrated named him Driver of the Year in 1957. He raced in various series and won the 24-hours of Le Mans in 1959. Shelby even opened a successful sports car dealership, Carroll Shelby Motors, in Dallas, Texas, during the late 1950’s.
When Shelby’s health caused him to abandon his driving in 1960, Carroll got out of the driver's seat and turned his attention to design. He had a vision for the automobile industry and went for it. Carroll Shelby built his first Cobra, the CSX 2000, in 1962 and was a smashing success at the New York Auto Show that same year.