Racing legend and Woodrow Wilson graduate Carroll Shelby is finally getting the Hollywood treatment he deserves in the new movie, “Ford v Ferrari.”

The film, released Nov. 15, follows Shelby’s efforts to design a sports car for Ford that could outrace perennial champion Ferrari at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. 

Before Shelby became one of the best racecar drivers in history, he was a student at Woodrow Wilson High School during the late 1930s.

“I had to become a racecar driver to stay ahead of [Woodrow principal] Pop Ashburn,” he previously told the Advocate. “I got in trouble for driving too fast on a couple occasions. There was this railroad track I liked to speed over — see how much air I could catch.”

Shelby, played by Matt Damon in the film, was an intriguing character on the European racing circuit thanks to his Texas-sized personality. He was known to wear a black cowboy hat, which Damon dons during much of the movie.

After years on the track, Shelby became a car designer, as he’s seen in the movie. Ford recruits Shelby and his trusted friend Ken Miles to reinvent the GT40.

(Spoiler alert: They humiliate the Italian stallions in the 1966 race by capturing first, second and third place.)

Shelby was one of the few Americans to win Le Mans. In 1959, he came down with dysentery just a day before the race and still finished in first place. He was named the Sports Illustrated Driver of the Year in 1956 and 1957 and was inducted into the International MotorSports Hall of Fame and the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Shelby died in 2012 from complications following a life-long heart condition. He was 89 years old.


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