Carroll Shelby — a Wildcat legend

You may remember reading last month that Woodrow has more members in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame than nay other high school. One of them, Carroll Shelby ’40, is now celebrating some other milestones.

It is five years since his heart transplant and 30 years since he produced the first Shelby Mustang. The 20th annual Shelby-American Automobile Club Convention will be held this July at Road Atlanta in Georgia. Also, he turned 72 on Jan. 11.

At Woodrow’s 60th Anniversary six years ago, Shelby was inducted into the Woodrow Hall of Fame. As he stood on the platform in front of the school, a Shelby Mustang in the passing parade revved its GT 350 in reverence – just as Shelby had done with his father’s ’34 Dodge so many years ago.

“I had to become a race car driver to stay ahead of Pop Ashburn (Woodrow’s principal from 1928-1956),” he told the crowd.

The Mustang, named by his friend Lee Iacocca for Dallas’ Southern Methodist University Mustangs, was already America’s most popular car when Shelby devised his souped-up editions. He was a winner at LeMans and named Sports Illustrated’s driver of the year, but a heart murmur put an end to his racing career by 1960.

But it didn’t stop him from creating fast cars. He set out to beat Ferrari by building a high-performance sports car of his own, the Cobra. Later he followed Iacocca to Chrysler, where he collaborated on several designs, culminating in the baddest American car produced today – the Dodge Viper.

When I met Shelby at his class reunion in 1990, I wasn’t kidding when I told him how we used to sit around the lunch table at Woodrow talking in awe about his being a fellow Wildcat. As has everyone who has laid rubber in the school’s horse shoe.

“Out of all the famous people I have met from Woodrow, I’ve really wanted to meet you the most,” I gushed. He didn’t seem too impressed.

The tall Texan now divides his time between California and Pittsburgh, Texas. A Shelby museum recently opened in McKinney.

He also started the Shelby Heart Fund to help indigent children. An auction to raise money for the fund, which is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, was held last summer in Newport Beach, Calif. He is selling leftover Cobras for $500,000 with $200,000 from each sale going to the organization.

He also sells autographed pictures for a $25 donation (see address below). In addition, he owns the International Chili Society with publisher Bob Peterson. The organization raises millions for charities at cookoffs all over the world, which started at his Terlingua, Texas ranch. The Woodrow motto, “Keep they heart with all diligence” has another layer of meaning for this living legend.

To make a donation and receive an autographed picture, write Shelby Heart Fund, Dept. MF, Diane Louttit, 19020 Anelo, Gardena, Calif. 90428. Or call (310) 327-5072.


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