A war veteran who flew B-29s, an oil roughneck, a chicken farmer-Carroll Shelby was a man of diverse talents. But he will forever be remembered as an automotive icon who transformed sports car racing and brought American pride to the international motorsports stage.
This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, set for Aug. 17-19, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra. But the featured marque honor becomes more poignant with the recent passing of the man who was simply known to friends as “Shel.”
The connection between Shelby and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has long been intertwined. Shelby was a frequent participant in the formative years of the raceway, then named Laguna Seca, according to a press release.
It was there on Oct. 20, 1960, that Shelby drove the No. 98 Tipo 61 Maserati “Birdcage” in the final race of his legendary driving career. Despite taking nitroglycerin pills to ease chest pains, he finished second after leading much of the race, earning enough points to clinch the 1960 USAC Sports Car Championship.
Shelby adamantly said he was attending the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, an event that was always marked on his calendar, and was looking forward to reconnecting with former Shelby American engineers, drivers and employees, the release noted.
Additional plans are under way to unite the Shelby legacy and spirit with the anniversary of one of the most iconic cars of all time, and certainly the most replicated.
Among the highlights will be:
- Dedicated race of 45 authentic CSX 2000/3000 competition cars
- Shelby Cobra Heritage Display, presented by Ford Motor Co.
- Cobra Car Show on Pit Lane (Saturday for all authentic street and race Cobras)
- Cobra Car Corral with hundreds of authentic, continuation and replica cars
- Carroll Shelby special tribute laps
- Picnic Q&A with a Shelby American team member
- 350 GT Mustangs racing and in a dedicated car corral
“Carroll Shelby and his Cobras have been integral to our facility’s development. For a man who had his last professional race here and returned year after year for our historic car races, it is a privilege to host and present a public celebration of his life, his cars and his deep passion,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “He will be missed roaming the paddock, but his spirit will forever live on.”