Any company named Wicked Quick must recognize—no, celebrate—the lifelong contribution to that cause of the multi-talented, lead-footed Carroll Shelby.
Introduced to a wider audience through the 2019 movie, Ford v Ferrari, it shows what a catalyst Shelby was to the auto racing world. As a driver, he was winner of countless races here and in Europe, often captaining clearly inferior cars. He was twice named Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated (1956, 1957). After a serious crash, he returned to racing just a month later. His arm still in a cast, he simply had his hand taped to the steering wheel.
The more he raced, the more he won. Shelby said his most notable first as a driver was the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. There, he and his co-driver, Roy Salvadori, finally beat Ferrari after its long string of dominating years.
But it’s the rest of Shelby’s story that shows what a game-changer he became to the entire automotive performance industry after hanging up his helmet at age thirty seven.
Retiring because of angina, a condition he’d had since a child, Shelby simply continued doing what he knew best—he kept driving. This time, himself. Convinced there was a gap in the U.S. car market big enough to fit a V-8 engine, he went looking, audaciously, for a lightweight chassis. When conditions freed up British Organization AC Cars’ lightweight chassis—and with help from Ford—he placed the lithe shell over a growling 260 Hi-Po V8 and was, literally, off to the races.
Calling the creation Shelby Cobra, it—and its offspring—would go on to be the fastest American made sports car of its time. The Cobra Daytona Coupe, built by Shelby’s company, Shelby American, would even grab the win at the World Manufacturers’ GT Championship in 1965. It would be the second time Shelby reigned on what was always Ferrari’s annual parade.
Working with Ford for many years and later, Chrysler, Shelby would,
in the end, help create and design over 20 iconic cars, including Shelby Cobras, Mustangs, GTs and Dragonsnakes, and Dodge Vipers, Chargers, Lancers and Shadows. His output is unequalled in the car industry.
Shortly after Wicked Quick opened for business, our founder, Tarran Pitschka, went down to Shelby American in Gardena, California, where the legendary speedster still showed up to work everyday. After securing the Shelby license, Pitschka wanted to meet the icon who’d help inspire his Wicked Quick brand. The two did meet. And one of Pitschka’s ideas made Shelby light up like he was a young racer again.
But that’s a story for another blog.
Til then, take a look at our collection of Carroll Shelby t-shirts to celebrate the racing icon!