The Chicken Farmer and Le Mans

When the name Carroll Shelby comes up in conversation, there is an immediate association with the Ford GT40 Le Mans success.

And success it was. In the 1966 Le Mans, Ferrari was dislodged from its mantle when a GT40 took first, second, and third place.

The GT40 went on to win Le Mans for four successive years.

However, less is known about the man.

Born January 11, 1923, in Texas.

He trained as a pilot and flight instructor during World War II.

He began racing in the early 50s at Sebring, driving for Aston Martin.

With Ray Salvadori, he won the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans driving an Aston Martin DBR1.

In 1960, he retired from racing due to a heart condition.

Despite ill health, in 1962, he started Shelby American and introduced the Shelby Cobra to the world.

In the 80s, he partnered with Chrysler, building high-performance cars, including the Dodge Shelby Cobra.

He also successfully created Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Chilli Mix.

Known for his philanthropy, in 1991, he founded the Carroll Shelby Foundation, supporting children in need of medical care.

In 1990, he had a heart transplant, followed by a kidney transplant in 1996, and died on May 10, 2012, at the age of 89.

Oh! Following the war, he decided to become a chicken farmer.

The venture failed, but it prompted him to explore other opportunities.

We would never have experienced the wonderful GT40 without this ‘foul-up.’