It's time to push some of Carroll Shelby's words of wisdom out there into DA-land. Agree with him or not, he's a down-home, interesting guy. Without further ado:
I don't think I'm a celebrity. I'm just a guy from east Texas who loves cars and airplanes.
If you don't go do what you wanna do, you're just bullshitting yourself.
Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 was probably the highlight of my career as a driver.
My last race? That was in 1960, in Los Angeles. Since 1959, I'd been having to drive with nitroglycerin under my tongue for my heart condition, which slows you up tremendously for a lap or two. And I just thought, Hey, this is kinda stupid. I never thought I was endangering the other guys or I might have a heart attack and die. It just slowed me up. I saw this prohibiting me from driving at my maximum. And I'd always wanted to build my own cars. So about halfway through the race, I just decided, Hey...
I don't design cars. I'm not a designer. I know what I desire to be built, I know what the end result is, the horsepower, the competition we'll be working against -- but I leave it to the people who work with me to put it all together. I don't do anything.
I got a lot of criticism for building the Charger. When I went over to Dodge, I asked Lee Iacocca, "What've we got to work with?" Well, we had these little Chargers with 2.2-liter engines and inefficient transmissions. The horsepower? About 90. But with turbochargers, we were able to pull 750 horsepower out of it. Same block, same engine. I still drive one. Those that we built for Dodge in the eighties can outrun the pocket rockets of today. This was the beginning of the pocket rockets, so I guess I had the last laugh. It's always a challenge to try to make a mule outrun a racehorse.
I'm not convinced that men and women are supposed to get along.
There's no secret ingredient for great chili. Chili is a state of mind. But I'll tell you something: After thirty-seven, thirty-eight years at the judging table, I can say all chili these days tastes about the same. In the beginning, the Mexicans would put chocolate in it, Cincinnati would put spaghetti. Now any chili that makes it to the judging table comes from just about the same recipe.
I wasn't a test pilot in the Air Force. I don't know who started that shit.
We brought the first Shelby over from England to California. A magazine wrote an article about it, and the next thing you know, other magazines wanted to test the car. So I had to paint it a different color for each magazine. I couldn't tell 'em it was the same car.
I love raising animals. I look at animals as more perfect human beings. I can relate to an animal.
I brought some Tuli cattle over from Rhodesia. Print Rhodesia, will you, instead of Zimbabwe? Because that guy Mugabe is an asshole.
Back during my Grand Prix racing days, we used to lose seven or eight people a year. We didn't think about it all that much. We'd feel sad for whoever didn't make it and go to a funeral sometime during the week, then be out testing that afternoon. Part of the business.
Auto racing is a completely different dog-and-pony show now. I watched a Nascar race yesterday, and anytime anybody gets a little ahead, they suddenly see "debris" on the track, and they start another race. It's show business now, and it used to be racing. Maybe that's what people want, and it's so successful that you can't criticize it.
When you've driven race cars, and when you've jumped out of airplanes, cars are on fire, when you've been upside down at two hundred miles per hour waiting for your head to hit the ground, when you've been in Africa with a wounded Cape buffalo six feet in front of you, chargin' ya, I'll let someone else decide what the most dangerous thing I've ever done is.
I never had ambitions to see how rich I could get. I got a lot of contemporaries that that's their ambition, and I don't know very many of them that're happy.
When I got that heart transplant, I said, "Well, if you get me a heart, I'll try to make it up to ya," and I got me a heart, so I'm trying my best to make it up to Him. I have a foundation for children who need transplants. It's the most important thing to me that I do.
Every morning I wake up with new ideas.
I never thought about dying. The day you were born, it was already written down the day you're gonna check out. Now, I'm not gonna throw myself under a truck, but I'm not gonna worry about when I die. I'm ready to move on when that day comes.
Thanks to Scott Dickensheets and Esquire for these quotes.
Those are great words, Carroll and I seem to see eye-to-eye on quite a few things.
Sounds like a cool guy! I just bought a book that James Garner wrote (autobiography), with stories about him & Steve McQueen & Paul Newman racing in Baja. Should be good stuff
These are words from an accomplished, simple man whose real legacy is teaching us that honesty is the main tool to achieve one's goals and ultimately peace of mind. All the sweet machinery he created and inspired are a plus.