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May 12, 2012

Legendary car designer, racer dies

DALLAS — Carroll Shelby, the legendary car designer and champion auto racer who built the fabled Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford’s Mustang and Chrysler’s Viper, has died. He was 89.

Shelby’s company, Carroll Shelby International, said Friday that Shelby died the night before at a Dallas hospital. Doctors have not released a cause of death.

“We are all deeply saddened and feel a tremendous sense of loss for Carroll’s family, ourselves and the entire automotive industry,” said Joe Conway, president of Carroll Shelby International Inc. and board member.

Shelby was one of the nation’s longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year-old man who died of an aneurysm. Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael.

The one-time chicken farmer and 1992 inductee into the Automobile Hall of Fame had more than a half-dozen successful careers during his long life. Among them: champion race car driver, racing team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, safari tour operator, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Shelby first made his name behind the wheel of a car, winning France’s grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with teammate Ray Salvadori in 1959.

Soon after his win at Le Mans, he gave up racing and turned his attention to designing high-powered “muscle cars” that eventually became the Shelby Cobra and the Mustang Shelby GT500.

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