Carroll Shelby Centenary this year at Goodwood
January 11, 2023 would have been Carroll Shelby’s 100th birthday, and in this centenary year Goodwood Revival will be commemorating the great American racer’s exploits behind the wheel and as an engineer and team manager.
Carroll Shelby at Goodwood in 1959 – GPL photo
Carroll Shelby is best known today as part of the team that took on Ferrari for Ford, as recorded in the film Ford vs Ferrari. Shelby was pivotal in developing the GT40 cars that won the world’s greatest endurance race, four times in a row.
However, it was as a driver that he first made his name, competing in local American races before coming to Europe and catching the eye of many, including John Wyer at Aston Martin.
Carroll Shelby became part of the Aston Martin team for the 1959 championship, helping the brand to secure its first World Sportscar Championship crown and piloting a DBR1 to its only victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, alongside Roy Salvadori.
After he finished racing, Shelby founded Shelby American and developed the AC Cobra sports car, based on the British AC Ace, but with a Ford V8 engine shoehorned under the bonnet.
TT Oulton Park 1965 – David Phipps photo
Shelby’s Cobras raced all over the world and became an icon of American performance motoring. His desire to compe with Ferrari gave birth to the Shelby Daytona Coupes that won three races in the World Sportscar Championship, including the TT at Goodwood in 1964.
After this success Ford contracted Carroll and Shelby American to help with the development of its GT40. The GT40 had been jointly developed with Lola, to beat Ferrari to victory at Le Mans, but was achieving disappointing results in its early years.
The changes that Shelby and development driver, Ken Miles and others made, saw the GT40 become a race-winning machine that continued to be victorious at Le Mans even after Ford factory campaigning ended.
This year, Goodwood plans to bring together some of the most important cars in Shelby’s extraordinary career, for a brilliant on track display at the Revival. Cars on show are set to include the very MC TC in which Shelby made his racing debut, back in 1952.
Shelby’s connection with Goodwood stretches over six decades. He first raced at Goodwood during the Circuit’s heyday, winning the 1959 RAC Tourist Trophy alongside Jack Fairman and Stirling Moss. This was the race that clinched Aston Martin’s World Sportscar Championship.
In the modern era, Shelby returned to Goodwood in 2000, for its third Revival year, bringing a Shelby Daytona Coupe, driven by American IndyCar champion and F1 driver Danny Sullivan.
Carroll Shelby behind the wheel of the CSX-2000, the first Cobra model – Shelby American photo
Although Carroll Shelby passed away in 2012, his cars remain significant in all events at Goodwood. At the Revival, Cobras can be seen racing in the RAC TT Celebration and Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy, and the GT40 is a central part of the Whitsun Trophy.
Speaking about the upcoming celebration Aaron Shelby, board member of Carroll Shelby International and grandson of Carroll, said:
“Goodwood held a very special place in my grandfather’s heart.
“He competed there as a driver in an Aston Martin and returned to race at the Circuit with the Shelby American team cars, during the 1960s.
“Carroll attended the Goodwood Revival with his Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe and, as a Word War II aviator, he especially admired the Vintage Warbird exhibit.
“We’re honoured that the Duke of Richmond and his team have chosen to honour the 100th anniversary of Carroll’s birthday this year.
“We look forward to a marvellous weekend at the Goodwood Revival.”
In reply, the Duke of Richmond, founder of the Goodwood Revival said:
“It’s such a privilege to be celebrating Carroll Shelby at the Goodwood Revival this year.
“He was a good friend and I remember when Carroll first came to the Revival back in 2000, bringing with him his infectious personality and competitive spirit.
“It will be wonderful to see those glorious cars that Carroll designed and raced, in action at Goodwood once again.”
Tickets for the 2023 Goodwood Revival are on sale now.