Carroll Shelby testdrive
Carroll Shelby testdrive. Click image to enlarge

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By Paul Williams; photos courtesy Ford Motor Company

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Tribute to Carroll Shelby!

Here’s something to put on your calendar if you can make it to Toronto in mid-February. The Carroll Shelby Gala Reception takes place on February 10, 2010. For motorsports fans, car enthusiasts, and supporters of Mr. Shelby’s foundation dedicated to helping young people requiring acute coronary care, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

The event is hosted by the Canadian International Auto Show and supported by the Toronto Automobile Dealers Foundation. Net proceeds will be donated to the Carroll Shelby Foundation and the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation. Autos has reserved two tickets that we are offering to readers in a contest to help promote the event.

1968 Shelby GT500
1968 Shelby GT500. Click image to enlarge

Along with the presence of Mr. Shelby, attendees will see an array of vehicles that he campaigned or developed. These include a Cadillac-powered 1952 Allard J2X; 1962 cobra CSX 2002 driven by Dan Gurney and Ken Miles and in Canada by Eppie Wietzes; a super-rare Cobra Daytona Coupe, driven to GT Class victory at LeMans in 1964 by Bob Bondurant and Dan Gurney; a 1965 Shelby GT 350; a Mk. I Ford GT 40 and a Mk. IV Ford GT 40 driven by Mario Andretti.

Other vehicles on display include a 1954 Austin Healey 100S, Jaguar XK-120, MG-TC, and more recent Shelby creations, like the Shelby Mk. I Roadster, Dodge Vipers, and a range of Shelby Mustangs from 1965 to the present.

The name “Shelby” resonates loudly in the history of motorsports, spanning two centuries. At 87 years of age, Mr. Shelby — a heart transplant recipient in 1990 — continues active involvement in the automobile industry, while promoting his foundation.

Carroll Shelby at wheel of new production Cobra, 1963
Carroll Shelby at wheel of new production Cobra, 1963. Click image to enlarge

Highlights of Carroll Shelby’s career would fill a book (have, in fact…), but likely the pinnacle of his comparatively short racing career would be his outright Le Mans win in 1959, at the wheel of an Aston Martin DB3, partnered with Roy Salvadori.

A stellar race car driver, Mr. Shelby drove and won in all manner of performance vehicles over an 11-year period from 1949-1960. His race driving achievements would be cut short due to a recurring heart problem that was first identified when he was a child.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Shelby — equipped with a winning combination of ability and charm — to shift from racing to building cars. His first attempt, the Shelby Cobra, was a home-run, becoming an icon in the history of performance vehicles and an enduring object of desire for millions of car enthusiasts.

Carroll Shelby at wheel of new production Cobra, 1963
Carroll Shelby at wheel of new production Cobra, 1963. Click image to enlarge

Over the years, Mr. Shelby has mostly been associated with the Ford Motor Company, assisting Ford to Le Mans domination in the late 1960s with the Ford GT40, and lending his name and expertise to numerous Mustang special editions. He has also worked with Chrysler and on the Dodge Viper program, but is now back with Ford, recently collaborating on the Shelby GT500 KR, the Shelby GT Convertible, and the new Shelby GT500 Mustang.

Carroll Shelby has been inducted into numerous “Halls of Fame,” and will join Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame as its first International member in a ceremony at the Gala Reception. The evening concludes with a live auction of a 2011 Ford Shelby GT500. If you’ve ever wanted to meet motorsports royalty (and contribute to a worthwhile cause), here’s your chance.

Tickets for the Carroll Shelby Gala Reception are available to the public for $150 each. Further information can be found and ticket reservations can be made at

Click here to place your entry to win a pair of these tickets, courtesy of

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