Carroll Shelby might feel out of sorts as grand marshal of Woodrow Wilson High School’s 80th Anniversary Parade. That is, because parades move relatively slow.
Shelby is accustomed to going fast.
When we tracked down the 86-year old Woodrow alumnus, he was in Vegas following five days at the NASCAR Spring Cup event — his Shelby Automobiles sponsored the race, which drew hundreds of thousands of fans to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (The venue president, Chris Powell, before the event called Shelby “legendary” and his name “synonymous with the best in high performance cars”.)
Shelby spends most of his time these days in Vegas working on racecars, but he also has a home in Los Angeles, Calif., and a sprawling ranch in Pittsburg, Texas.
NASCAR fan or not, you must admit Shelby is undeniably cool — the 1956 and ’57 Sports Illustrated race car driver of the year fashioned, in later years, some of the world’s fastest high performance rides, including the Cobra, Viper, Shelby Mustangs and Ford GT. Motor Trend magazine recently named him one of the top 50 most important people in the auto industry. He’s been inducted into the International MotorSports Hall of Fame and the Automotive Hall of Fame, and more recently, the Woodrow Wilson Hall of Fame. He’s in good company there, joining the likes of the late Trammell Crow, along with a lengthy list of influential Woodrow alumni from myriad walks of life.
The Woodrow Hall of fame isn’t necessarily reserved for outstanding scholars, Shelby says, stressing that he was by no means a stellar student.
“I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office,” he says. He made the cut even despite a few run-ins with school administrators and the law: “I got in trouble for driving too fast on a couple of occasions. There was this railroad track I liked to speed over — see how much air I could catch.”
No, the Woodrow Hall of Fame is not for the perfect, or even the famous, necessarily — rather it’s for grads who have accomplished, contributed, and somehow changed the world around them for the better.
Shelby holds fond memories of fellow Hall of Famers such as golf pro Ralph Guldahl. “He used to play golf in the field right across from Woodrow. It’s not a field anymore. I had lunch with him 15 years ago — three months before he died — and we talked and talked about all the good times in high school.”
During Woodrow’s birthday celebration on April 25, The Woodrow Hall of Fame will accept 20 new members, among them Ruth Vail and Danielle Drury Petters, principals of Woodrow and J.L. Long, respectively, as well as “Space Cowboy” Steve Miller (at press deadline, all are anxiously wondering whether he’ll show or not).
Vail, who graduated from Woodrow in 1991, says the nomination is a great honor, especially in light of the company she’ll be joining.
“I am glad that they have considered me as having made a difference and contributed to helping to continue the traditions and the Wildcat Spirit … I am very excited and hope to continue working with Woodrow for years to come.
“I know my dad would be so proud,” she adds. “He was class of 1965.”
Petters, class of ’85, is a former fashion model and this is her first year as principal at Long.
Schedule of Woodrow Anniversary Events
Saturday, April 25
10 a.m. Parade marshaled by Carroll Shelby from Wells Fargo Lakewood Bank, 6301 Gaston, to Woodrow Wilson High School.
11 a.m. Woodrow Wilson High School classrooms open for class reunions.
12:30 p.m. New Hall of Fame members inducted in the Woodrow Wilson High School auditorium
7 p.m.-1 a.m. Alumni Band Round Up at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, 944 S. Lamar; $45 cover includes full BBQ spread, dessert, tea and coffee. Cash bar available.
Alumni Band Round Up
While Steve Miller might be the most famous rocker to ever roam the halls of Woodrow Wilson High School, he certainly isn’t the only one — organizers have lined up eight awesome alumni acts to play the 80th anniversary party at Eddie Deen’s Ranch including: The Knuckleheads (rock/country); The Singapore Slingers (orchestral); the Exiles (‘60s tunes); Zapruder Sequence (indie rock); Eight Arms to Hold You (Beatles tribute); The Kats (classic rock); Wes Niles & the Skeeters (rhythm and blues/rockabilly); and The Old ‘68s (‘60s rock). The tickets will cost $45 at the door, and proceeds will benefit the International Baccalaureate Degree program at Woodrow.
The relatively expensive-to-build Woodrow Wilson High School opened amid much hoopla in 1928. At the time, a Dallas Times Herald writer called the high school “a rare spectacle”. A piece of President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter’s wedding cake was included in the building’s cornerstone. The school served as a movie set in 1981 for “Crises at Central High” starring Joanne Woodard, whose husband, the late Paul Newman, showed up at the school and even mingled with students during the filming.
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