Collection of tributes on the passing of Carroll Shelby

Statements received by Motorsport.com

Statements on the passing of Carroll Shelby

The following statement is attributable to Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

AC Shelby Cobra detail
AC Shelby Cobra detail

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

“Today, we have lost a legend in Ford Motor Company’s history, and my family and I have lost a dear friend. Carroll Shelby is one of the most recognized names in performance car history, and he’s been successful at everything he’s done. Whether helping Ford dominate the 1960s racing scene or building some of the most famous Mustangs, his enthusiasm and passion for great automobiles over six decades has truly inspired everyone who worked with him. He was a great innovator whose legend at Ford never will be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing on the passing of Carroll Shelby:

“In the history of our company there are a handful of men who have stamped their imprint on the heart and soul of what we do at Ford Racing and Carroll Shelby is definitely one of them. I’m just so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We at Ford and his legions of fans will have a silent moment to reflect on what he’s done for the company. It’s personal for me and I’m sure it’s personal for many fans.”

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Bruton Smith statement on Carroll Shelby’s passing:

“Carroll was one of the best friends I ever had. He was known all over the world as an icon in the automotive industry and one of the greatest names in the history of motorsports. He was a great Texan and a great innovator with a style of his own. I’ll never forget how he would climb out of that sports car with bib overalls and a cowboy hat. Ford will do all but close the company because of his passing. I admired him a great deal and will miss him greatly as a friend and a business partner.”

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STATEMENT FROM NHRA PRESIDENT TOM COMPTON ON THE PASSING OF CARROLL SHELBY

“The automotive industry has lost a pioneer and the motorsports world a legend with the passing of Carroll Shelby. He and our founder Wally Parks were very good friends and Carroll frequently attended events at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California. On behalf of everyone at NHRA, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

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Richard Petty Comments on Passing of Carroll Shelby:

“Carroll Shelby was a visionary for performance and speed for the Ford Motor Company. It was his ideas that helped push the Cobra and most recently the Mustang brand to the American people. He was an innovator of his time and helped Ford become a leader in the racing and performance world. The entire Petty family sends their prayers to the Shelby family.”

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A statement from Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Belskus on the passing of Carroll Shelby.

Automotive design and engineering icon Shelby died May 10 in Dallas at age 89. He drove the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car twice, leading the field to the green flag in 1987 in a Chrysler LeBaron and in 1991 in a Dodge Viper V-10:

"We're saddened to learn of the passing of Carroll Shelby. He made monumental contributions to automotive design and racing engineering that changed the way the world looked at American performance cars. Carroll was an American original. There never will be another quite like him. We were honored that he drove the Pace Car twice at the Indianapolis 500, as his spirit of ingenuity and innovation was a perfect match for 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.' We extend our thoughts, prayers and sympathies to his family and friends."

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Bob Bondurant, founder of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, offers his thoughts and recollections on the death of legendary champion driver, team owner and car designer Carroll Shelby. Bondurant and Shelby initially competed against each other as drivers. After Shelby formed the Shelby American team, he eventually convinced Bondurant to drive for him. The pair combined to win the 1965 International Manufacturer's Championship, with seven victories in 10 races.

"Carroll Shelby's passing is tougher than I thought it would be. I guess I thought he was immortal and would always be there to give me advice whether I wanted it or not... which was often!

"1963 was a pinnacle year for me, my first season driving for Carroll. What a thrill ride! I won every race I entered with the Cobra.

"In 1964, Carroll and Ford sent a team over to Europe to beat Ferrari in the World Manufacturer's Championship, never won by an American car. Ford had no budget to send me, so I paid my own way to Europe. Along with the true masters – Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Masten Gregory and others – our mission was to beat Ferrari. Carroll was hell-bent on winning, he coached us like a fellow driver, he led us with the voice of a winning driver and he exercised his will on us to win.

"That year was full of wins and early on I won the most prestigious race in the world with Dan Gurney, the Le Mans 24-Hour. Our car number was 5, the same number Carroll had won Le Mans in several years earlier. To have Carroll so proud, so happy and so pleased with us was huge. We came up five debatable points short in '64 to win the trophy. That was the year the famous words, 'Ferrari's ass is mine,' were spoken. Those initials were on the back of one of my Cobras, just a little reminder from the pit crew. We learned a lot that year, and I learned the tracks very, very well.

"In 1965, Carroll told me the Cobras were unfortunately old news for Ford, with the GT40 having all of Carroll's focus to be THE car to finally beat Ferrari in the world championship. Carroll told me the cars were sent to a British racing team manager and all the race drivers were British, so there was no way for me to drive. One day, catching Carroll in a good mood, I asked if he would send me back to Europe to try again, as the American on the team. I went on to win seven of the 10 races, four as a solo driver, the other three with fantastic co-drivers. And we won the championship.

'Carroll Shelby had a lot of faith in me. He understood my desire to beat the world's best. We will never know whether he just gave me another chance that year or if he had a hunch I could win it, but it's in the history books. When once asked what his proudest moment was in his racing life, he said it was winning the 1965 World Manufacturer's Championship – and that was the proudest day of my life to hear him say that.

"The race records tell you that I was at the right place, at the right time, with the right talent... and with the right man. Goodbye, Carroll. Thank you for the ride!"

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About this article
Series GENERAL
Article type Obituary
Tags allison, belskus, bondurant, bruton smith, compton, ford, ims, nhra, petty