- Mattijs Diepraam, Felix Muelas
- 8W October issue
- Phil Hill - America's first World Drivers Champion, by Felix Muelas/Mattijs Diepraam
- Maserati 250F - Classic Red, the Maserati 250F series, by Don Capps
- Scuderia Centro Sud - Italy's Maserati privateer, by Mattijs Diepraam/Felix Muelas
Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F
1958 French GP (6 July 1958)
On the day the Maestro hang up his helmet and no longer played the violin at the front of the Grand Prix field, a tough Texan by the name of Carroll Shelby finally made his F1 World Championship debut in the car which Fangio had taken to its first and final Championship crown before it became outdated very soon after. An American original, Shelby looked out of place in the pretty petite French Champagne countryside. Looks deceived, which was frequently the case with Shelby, as he had been no stranger to the European racing scene since teaming up with David Brown and his Aston Martin DB3S sportscars in 1954.
Born in 1923 in Leesburg, Texas, the son of a mail clerk, Shelby immediately marked himself out as a racing talent during his first race in 1952. Behind the wheel of a friend's MG TC, Shelby not only won his class, but beat the Jaguar XK120s as well. The next year Shelby tore up the whole south-western region of SCCA in Cadillac-powered Allards, establishing along the way a certain sartorial style that would always be identified with him. Due to compete after working on a farm one day, Shelby neglected to change out of his striped bib overalls. He won on that hot, humid day in Fort Worth, Texas, and was comfortable doing it. People seemed to be amused by his racing suit, so a tradition was born.
After changing to a Ferrari in 1953 he first ventured abroad in 1954, racing in Argentina. The event proved to be a turning point in Shelby's career. Once again racing an Allard-Caddy, Shelby won the SCCA Kimberly Cup as the highest-finishing amateur in a race of international professionals. As with many stories concerning Shelby, the Argentine episode is also remembered for a rather humorous incident. During a pitstop, the Allard's carburetors burst into flames. In the absence of a fire extinguisher, quick-thinking Dale Duncan, Masten Gregory's brother-in-law, doused the fire by urinating on the engine...
Shelby's spirited drive impressed Aston Martin's John Wyer, who offered a works ride to the Texan at Sebring. Mechanical ills would sideline that effort after only 77 laps. The first seeds of an international career were sown. A month later in England, Shelby finished second in a private Aston Martin to Duncan Hamilton's C-Type Jaguar. There were several more races on this first European trip, one of which netted Shelby $2,000, his first professional winnings.
At home, Shelby joined Donald Healey, whom he'd met in England, Captain George Eyston, and Roy Jackson-Moore at Bonneville to set more than 70 Class D speed records in Austin Healeys. He was to drive a Healey with Jackson-Moore in the Pan American Road Race but crashed in practice, breaking his arm. Then, with his arm still in a cast, Shelby teamed with America's other premier racer, Phil Hill, at Sebring to finish a very close - and controversial - second in Allen Guiberson's Monza Ferrari to the D-Type Jaguar of Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters. Shelby scored a number of wins at home in 1955, most often in one of the Ferraris owned by West Coast construction tycoon Tony Parravano. It was during a car-buying tour of Italy for Parravano that Shelby got his first ride in a Grand Prix car. "It was him that got Maserati to give me a Formula One," said Shelby. "I could' ve driven for the factory, Maserati, in '56 if I wanted to, but I couldn't stay over there. You know, I had the kids back in Texas and I couldn't stay for the whole season." As it was, he took sixth in the Syracuse GP on board of a 250F.
Driving for millionaire John Edgar, Shelby had wins in cars of various engine size, which probably worked against him winning an SCCA national championship in any particular class. In all, he took an amazing 27 wins during the 1956 SSCA season, 19 of them consecutively. In September 1957, he suffered a terrible crash at Riverside, requiring three vertebrae to be fused and plastic surgery for his face. Nevertheless, Shelby was back at Riverside two months later and despite a first-lap spin, won a classic victory over Masten Gregory, Walt Hansgen, and Dan Gurney.
In 1958, Carroll was tempted back to Europe by the illustrious John Wyer and the Aston Martin team, his best result a third in the Goodwood TT and at Spa, sharing with Stuart Lewis-Evans. There was also an abortive attempt at Indianapolis, where he was to drive a car entered by SCCA racerjack Ensley. Trouble was, Ensley took a driver's test in the car and when Shelby went to do his, USAC officials stepped in. "That ol' goofball, Harlan Fengler, made up a rule that two people couldn't test in the same car. Fengler says, 'No, you can't.' And I says, 'I'm going to Belgium.'"
On this trip to Europe, staying over from the Monzanapolis "Race of Two Worlds" spectacle, he also agreed to drive for Mimmo Dei's Scuderia Centro Sud, taking over from countryman, great friend and rival Masten Gregory (see above), and thus made his World Championship debut at Reims. In the by now uncompetitive 250F the Texan qualified 17th out of 21 runners but retired with a blown engine. With Shelby, other Americans Troy Ruttman (also in Europe because of the Monzanapolis race) and Phil Hill made their Grand Prix debuts, taking the tally of US racers to an unseen four (Schell the fourth of the gang). But while Ruttman saw the French race in which poor Luigi Musso got killed as a diversion to his Indy career, Hill and Shelby remained in Europe. At Silverstone, Carroll qualified two places up and indeed managed to get the car home in ninth. Then, at the end of the season, Shelby teamed up with the American Temple Buell team, which sponsored the "Piccolo" car that Fangio drove in his last race: this was chassis 2532 (renumbered by Temple Buell to 2533 for Monza), the first of two short-wheelbase 250Fs to be built for Temple Buell, later sold to Centro Sud and Joe Lubin to race in Grands Prix as late as 1960.
At Oporto Shelby qualified an encouraging 10th but then crashed out when his brakes failed. Gregory took over the car for Monza while Carroll was back in the ill-handling Centro Sud 250F. After its engine expired Shelby took over the Temple Buell car from Gregory to finish an impressive fourth. Sadly, this was the first season shared drives went unrewarded as far as championship points were concerned. Until 1957, both Gregory and Shelby would have received 1.5 point each for their combined effort but as it was, their remarkable co-drive to fourth was the first and only occasion in which a team of drivers fell foul of the new-for-1958 rule.
And so one of America's most influential racers - in sportscar terms at least - went without a single championship point, his 1959 works Aston Martin assault turning out a complete disaster. And there was so much hope for the new Grand Prix team, as Aston's sportscars were at the top of their game in the late fifties. At Le Mans, Shelby and Roy Salvadori won the 24-hour race, and shared with Moss and Fairman to take the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, going on to win the World Sportscar Championship for the Feltham marque - although admittedly the title owed more to the enormous skills of Mr S Moss. Stirling bankrolled his outing in the team's spare at the Nürburgring 1000kms, which he duly won. After Shelby's Le Mans win gained through sheer perseverance, Brown had again Moss to thank for their title-clinching win at Goodwood. It certainly had nothing to do with the advanced engineering at A.M.
Which there wasn't. Being Aston Martins the cars always looked good but then that was usually the purpose of their outward appearance: to look smart instead of having lines that were actually aerodynamically effective. Also, technically, David Brown's marque was never ahead of the game but sluggishly followed trends set by others. For instance, while Lotus built space-framed sportscars and Jaguar used a monocoque section on its D-Type, Aston Martin were still running ladder-framed cars. In some instances their lack of innovative skill was bordering on the ridiculous, as certainly was the case with Aston Martin's Grand Prix cars.
Its first plans for a Grand Prix car were already laid out in 1951 when the idea was to mate a derivative of the 2.6-litre LB6 engine with a DB3 sports-racing frame. Apparently the project, when already being underway, was shelved by ex-Auto Union and ex-ERA chief engineer-turned-designer Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. John Heath of HWM took interest in the tuned-down engine but was refused the use by Brown. At the start of the 2.5-litre era a similar idea propped up, with again Eberhorst opposed to the idea. This time a DB3S was narrowed to single-seater size and took on another modified engine, and against the wishes of their German head designer it was finished after Reg Parnell had requested to race the car in the 1955-'56 Tasman series.
Early 1956, the DB3S monoposto finally ran in the New Zealand GP - with the 2.5-litre engine instead of a 3-litre supercharged engine which had blown in testing. That is, it ran, but not in the race itself, as it threw a rod during practice and was withdrawn. In the Lady Wigram Trophy Parnell managed a fourth before the car went on to form the basis of the second RRA (Richardson Racing Automobiles) Special, with Geoff Richardson fitting a 2.4-litre Jaguar unit in the front. He entered it for the 1957 International Trophy and qualified 8th in his heat, retiring from a serious drop in oil pressure.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin had long since embarked on a double sportscar/Grand Prix car project, with the DBR1 sportscar and a new single-seater to be developed concurrently. Having started in 1956, the car finally ran late in 1957. And it simply was a job of fitting an existing engine and gearbox to a chassis that must have been waiting in the wings for ages! To make matters worse, Brown and Wyer decided to put the GP project on ice for another year during which the little Cooper team showed the establishment which way the future would be going.
So, unsurprisingly in a scene which was much more competitive than A.M.'s usual sportscar environment and on top of that was in the midst of a turbulent change to rear-engined designs, the DBR4/250 F1 car was a total flop. At the source of the failure was of course the front-engined chassis layout which also had Ferrari and BRM suffering. At the same time Colin Chapman put himself on a crash course in rear-engined chassis design. While the A.M. cars were undoubtedly beautifully crafted, the concept was obsolete and development slow. Bog slow, to be precise. The DB4/250 were space-framed cars with tuned-up sportscar engines (with an overoptimistically claimed 280bhp) and de Dion rear suspension - the last new GP car to make use of it. In the end, they entered just four 1959 events, its best results two sixths in Britain and Portugal. But what could you expect of a car that was originally penned in 1956, only to debut as late as 1959?
Apart from being based on ideas that were on the verge of extinction the cars were also overweight and, surprisingly, the reliable sportscar engine proved very unreliable in Grand Prix form. A second place and fastest lap for Salvadori in the International Trophy had given false hope since the engine was revving at 8000rpm, a pace it could hardly keep up with. Shelby had retired due to a bearing failure and investigation bore out that Roy's engine had only just managed to last the distance. After that discovery, the drivers had to limit their revs to 7000rpm which seriously affected their Zandvoort performance (here is Shelby going through the Hugenholtzbocht). Then the problem was easily solved by boring the oil-circulation holes in different places in the crankshaft. This led to temporarily renewed spirit at Aintree when Roy hit the front row while his American team mate lined up 6th on the grid. But during the race their true form became obvious, Salvadori finishing a distant 6th, with Shelby retiring with a faulty magneto. In their two other outings Salvadori and Shelby were severely off the pace to finish several laps down. As we all know, that pace was set by rear-engined Coopers…
And still Aston Martin persevered in their belief - but not before indeed a rear-engined design was sketched out. Don't get your hopes up, for this was not one from the "What might have been" category. The rear-engined Aston Martin GP car was in fact a DBR4 cut in half with the front part welded to the back... Most effort went into two lighter - front-engined - DBR5s that were raced in 1960, alongside one of the remaining DBR4s, with a poor 11th at Silverstone its best showing, before Aston Martin faded from Grand Prix racing, amidst engine agonies which saw a colossal mistake with the new cylinder heads and, resulting from it, some ill-guided dabbling with fuel injection. In between the two seasons, two modified and much more potent 3-litre cars raced in the 1960 Tasman Cup, with Lex Davison taking second place in the Australian GP and Bob Stilwill even winning with the other one at Warwick Farm.
By that time, Carroll Shelby had given up on his European aspirations, returning home to compete in SCCA events once more. Worryingly, early in 1959, Shelby had had the first hint of heart pains. These got more serious in 1960, and before he quit driving at the end of that season, Shelby had raced more than once with nitroglycerine pills under his tongue. Fortunately for sportscar fans past and present, he never had to bite the bullet. Instead, his retirement from racing started off a new chapter in his life, which would make him even more famous than he had been as a driver.
Within a year, Carroll Shelby had embarked on a course that would ultimately see the development of the British AC Cobra light sportscar creation into a fearsome US-bred powerhorse aptly named the Shelby Cobra, a world-class sportscar that in 1965 would win America's first World Championship. Concurrently the Texan formed All-American Racers, a Goodyear-funded partnership with Dan Gurney (who today is still heading the team) that would yield three Indy 500 winners and the splendid Eagle-Weslake T1G, America's first Grand Prix-winning car in 46 years. Finally, Shelby was at the head of a program that would turn around Ford's GT40 effort and produce the first all-American win at Le Mans.
If today All-American Racers is mainly associated with Gurney, the spirit of those three words are first and foremost embodied by the man who saw his heart condition finally cured by a successful heart transplant in 1990. It has allowed the all-American racer par excellence to travel the world again and renew the passion of his days in SCCA, Grand Prix and World Sportscar racing.
Reader's Why by Alessandro Silva
Carroll Shelby helped forge the motorracing link between the United States and Europe. He became a driver for a European Formula One team and won the 1959 Le Mans 24-hours race. Afterwards, although not an engineer, he 'married' a British AC chassis and a powerful American Ford V8 engine to produce the Cobra, a classic sportscar. This led to close ties with Ford, Shelby being involved in the Ford GT40 project which culminated in the Americans winning the Le Mans 24-hour race in the mid 1960s. Here Shelby is shown in the first race of his short and rather undistinguished F1 World Championship career during an eventful and tragic race: Fangio's and Musso's last one.
Carroll Shelby was born at Leesburg (Texas) on 11 January 1923. Later the Shelby family moved to Dallas, he married and was a pilot during Warld War Il. Shelby was a motor-car enthusiast, having owned several old machines from the days of his youth. He had also been a keen racegoer. In 1952, Shelby helped a friend prepare several MGs and made his competition début in an MG Special at a Texas drag race meeting. In May that year he raced his friend's MG TC on a road racing circuit for the first time and won his class. He also borrowed a Jaguar XK120 and won with this, too. Shelby rocketed to fame in SCCA amateur racing. In 1953 he raced Cadillac-engined Allards for Charlie Brown and Ray Cherryhames and in January 1954 he competed with Cherryhames' Allard in the Buenos Aires 1000km, his first foreign race, with Dale Duncan (Masten Gregory's brother-in-law) as co-driver. They did well, finishing tenth. But the race was not without its drama: there was a carburettor fire during a pit-stop and it was only Duncan's quick-thinking in the absence af any fire-fighting apparatus that saved the intrepid pair: he urinated on it! The trip to Argentina resulted in a meeting with John Wyer, Aston Martin's race director, who offered Shelby a ride in the Sebring 12-hours (where the rear-axle broke) plus a drive in Europe if he could pay his own way. Shelby made an arrangement with Guy Mabee, a Texan oil millionaire who dreamed of building an American sportscar, to finance the European trip. He tentatively agreed and Carroll arrived in Europe. Driving a 2.9-litre Aston Martin DB3S, he was second at Aintree, retired at Le Mans when a front stub axle broke in the 24-hour race, was fifth in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix at Monza co-driving with Graham Whitehead and followed this with third in an Aston Martin 1-2-3 clean-sweep at Silverstone. But then Mabee decided not to go ahead with the purchase of the Aston and Shelby returned to the United States.
Back home Ray Cherryhomes offered Shelby his Jaguar C-type for two races and then he teamed-up with George Eyston, Donald Healey and Ray Jackson-Moore to tackle Class D speed records in a pair of Austin-Healeys. They set more than 70 records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The season ended badly with a testing accident in the Carrera Panamericana; Shelby's Austin-Healey crashed into a road marker and Carroll suffered a badly broken arm. Shelby was back in action in the 1955 Sebring 12hrs race where he drove Alan Guiberson's 3-litre Ferrari 750 Monza into second piace with Phil Hill. It was a grim, determined drive by Shelby: he had removed his plaster cast, replaced it with a glass-fibre one and taped his hand to the steering wheel for support. Later in 1955 a new-found sponsor, West Coast construction man Tony Parravano, went with Shelby to Europe to purchase some Ferraris. With a 4.4-litre Ferrari 121LM he retired at Oulton Park and his co-driver Gino Munaron crashed their 3-litre Ferrari 750 Monza in the Targa Florio. While in Europe Shelby also finished ninth overall and won the 1500cc class in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod in a Porsche 550 shared with fellow-American Masten Gregory and at the wheel of a Formula One Maserati 250F he was sixth in October's Syracuse Grand Prix.
1956 was a year of mixed fortunes. Shelby was divorced, a sports-car garage business, financed by Dick Hall, brother af Jim Hall of Chaparral fame, was not a success as Shelby was unable to devote sufficient time to it and Parravano withdrew from racing. The seasan began with an invitation to share a works Aston Martin DB3S in the Sebring 12-hours with Roy Salvadori, the pair finishing fourth. Then Shelby was invited to race Ferraris for a new sponsor, John Edgar, much success being scored in Edgar's awesome 4.9-litre Ferrari 375 Plus. He also successfully raced a 2-litre Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa, a 4.4-litre Ferrari 121LM and Edgar's ex-Formula One Ferrari 375, with which he won the Mount Washington and Grants Despair hill-climbs in record time. The 1957 season began with Shelby's Ferrari 375 Plus taking second place in the Cuban Grand Prix behind Fangio's Maserati 300S, but at Sebring where he was invited to race a works-entered Maserati 300S with Ray Salvadori the pair were disqualified for refuelling too early. There was talk of racing for Maserati in European Grands Prix, but this came to nil. Instead Shelby had yet another successful sportscar season in the United States, driving both John Edgar's new machines, a 3-litre Maserati 300S and a 4.5-litre Maserati 450S. He won 19 races and gained his second SCCA championship. In the inaugurai meeting at Riverside Internationai Raceway in September, however, Shelby crashed the bigger Maserati on the first lap of practice and suffered severe back and facial injuries. In November, though, he was back, at the same circuit (John Edgar, Shelby's sponsor, was a major Riverside shareholder) in the repaired car. He spun on the first lap, but fought back to conquer Dan Gurney's Ferrari and the rest of the field. It was a superb victory.
In 1958 Shelby attempted to run in the Indianapolis 500-mile race, but was prevented by USAC rules about the rookie test. Shelby joined the Aston Martin sportscar team. He retired at Sebring when the gear-linkage broke, was third in the Spa Grand Prix, retired in the Nùrburgring 1000-km with transmission failure, withdrew from Le Mans owing to iliness and was third in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, co-driving with Stuart Lewis-Evans. On the Formula One front, Shelby drove Maserati 250Fs for both Scuderia Centro-Sud (pictured) and American Temple Buell, best result being a shared fourth place with Masten Gregory in the Italian Grand Prix, in truth due to Masten's great drive.
For 1959 Shelby remained with Aston Martin, joining Salvadori to drive one of the new DBR4/250 Formula One machines in addition to the sportscars. The season started 'Down Under' in the New Zealand Grand Prix where he handled a Buell-entered Maserati 250F. Harry Schell took it over in mid-race to claim fourth place. So far as the sportscar programme was concerned the highlight of the year - indeed, the highlight of Shelby's career - was victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race in an Aston Martin DBRI/300 co-driven with Roy Salvadori, despite an attack of dysentery. He was also a member of the winning crew in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, thereby greatly assisting Aston Martin in the World Sports Car Championship-winning season. The Formula One Aston Martin lacked speed, best result in an abbreviated season being eighth in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The 1960 motor-racing season was Shelby's last. The 37-year-old driver had heart problems, a consequence of childhood troubles. Nevertheless, dosed with pills, he began the racing season with a 2.9 Maserati T61. He won at Riverside and in Castle Rock in June, but following the Riverside Grand Prix in October, in which he was fifth, he quit racing.
A new chapter in the life of Carroll Shelby opened - one that was to bring him even more fame. He moved to California and was able to give thought to a project he had dreamed of since the late 1950s... In 1957 Shelby had approached General Motors Harley Earle and Ed Cole, vice-president and chief engineer respectiveiy, with plans for an American sports car. They liked the idea, but their superiors did not. He mentioned his notion to many people, but nothing was serious until September 1961 when Shelby learned Britain's Bristol company were no longer going to build engines. Bristol supplied AC with power units for some of their Ace sportscar an adaption of a sport-racing design by John Tojeiro introduced in 1954. At first AC's own but ageing six-cylinder engine had been used, but the Bristol added power and sophistication in 1956. At first Shelby thought of using GM's Buick/Oldsmobile V8 lightweight engines, but then he heard of Ford's new 4.3-litre V8. AC agreed to supply chassis and Ford, after evaluation of the prototype, decided to make their new engine available: the Cobra was born.
Cobra was a name which apparently came to Shelby in a dream, and it was the start of a success story. The car was variously known as the Shelby American Cobra, AC Cobra or Ford Cobra, depending on which country you happened to be in and how successful it had proved. Ford helped with the setting up of the project at Santa Fe Springs. The first car was sold in mid-1962 and 75 more came off the production line before the end of the year, by which time the Cobra had heen homologated as a Grand Touring car and was eligible for competition. Into 1963 the larger 4.7-litre Ford V8 engine was employed and other modifications included the adoption of a larger radiator and rack-and-pinion steering. Phil Remington joined the company to oversee Cobra operations and the whole production outfit was moved to Lance Reventlow's one-time Scarab racing team headquarters at Venice, California. Ford backed an extensive competition programme for the Cobra, beginning with the entry of three cars for the three-hour Daytona Continental in February, first round of the FIA's new GT Championship. The Cobra of Dan Gurney suffered ignition problems, Skip Hudson's car crashed, while Dave MacDonald was an encouraging fourth behind two Ferraris and a Chevrolet Corvette. In the Sebring 12-hours both Phil Hill and Dan Gurney were as high as second overall in the early stages, but ultimateiy the best-placed machine was that of Phil Hill/Ken Miles in eleventh place. In the Le Mans 24-hours, a Cobra entered by the AC factory and driven by British crew Peter Bolton/Ninian Sanderson finished seventh. In American national meetings the Cobra was almost unbeatable, taking over from the Chevrolet Corvette as king of the production-sports-car races. Bob Johnson was SCCA's National Class A Production Champion, while Bob Holbert used a Cobra as well as a Porsche RS61 to win the SCCA's professional United States Road Racing Championship in its very first year of existence.
In 1964 Cobras found success on both sides of the Atlantic. In the USRRC series Cobras won six of the eight races entered, while Shelby was also making a bid to win the FIA's GT Championship. As well as the open roadsters, special aerodynamic coupé-bodied Cobras (designed by 27-year-old Pete Brock, once with General Motors and, in fact, Shelby's first-ever employee and test-driver) were built to join battle with the Ferraris. At Daytona Dan Gurney/Bob Johnson were fourth overall and second in class in the 2000 Continental, while in the Sebring 12-hours Cobras were fourth, fifth and sixth overall behind three works Ferrari prototypes and 1-2-3 in the GT category. Gurney was second in class in the tough Targa Florio when the competition moved to Europe, but the Cobras failed at both Francorchamps and Nürburgring. In the Le Mans 24-hours, however, Dan Gurney/Bob Bondurant were fourth overall and winners of the GT class. The cars failed at Reims, but Bondurant won the Freiburg hill-climb and Dan Gurney was third overall and GT winner in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood which put Cobra back in contention in the championship. However, with Ferrari winning the gruelling Tour de France even a Cobra-dominated Bridgehampton Double 500 meeting back in the United States could not prevent the series going to Italy.
In 1965 Shelby's Ford connections were strengthened. A move was made to a new factory near Los Angeles airport and production started on the Shelby G7350 Mustang, a highly tuned version of the Ford. Shelby also became involved with the running of the Ford GT40s in the American firm's fight against Ferrari, while with Dan Gurney he formed All-American Racers with the intention of building Eagle Formula One and Indianapolis cars (Shelby was to sell his share of AAR to Gurney in 1967). Cobra's efforts in the 1965 GT Championship were well rewarded: it began with Jo Schlesser/Hal Keck winning their class in the Daytona Continental and Schlesser and Bondurant combining to provide the same result at Sebring. Bondurant won his class at Monza and Nürburgring and was second at Francorchamps, also winning the Rossfeld hill-climb. Sir John Whitemore won his class in the Tourist Trophy at Oulton Park, while the Jack Sears/Dick Thompson Cobra was the second GT entry to finish at Le Mans. After Bondurant/Schlesser won their class in the Reims 12-hours sufficient points had been amassed for Cobra to claim the title before the season's end.
In 1966 - when Carroll was briefly concerned with the Sunbeam Tiger project, a similar concept to the Cobra but using the Sunbeam Alpine chassis as a basis - Shelby prepared 7-litre Ford GT40s for long-distance sportscar races, the objective being the Le Mans 24-hours. Among his rivals, however, were more works Fords prepared by other sources: Holman & Moody, Alan Mann and Ford Advanced Vehicles Operations. Shelby's drivers Ken Miles/Lloyd Ruby won the Daytona Continental 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours, while Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon and Ken Miles/Denny Hulme scored a terrific Shelby/Ford 1-2 in the Le Mans 24-hours. Ford had achieved their greatest ambition thanks to Carroll Shelby.
Ford swamped Shelby. The Cobra was phased out of production at the end of 1966 after 1140 of the exciting cars had been built, some later models with more powerful 7-litre engines. Production of the Shelby GT350 and GT500 Mustangs (later called Cobras) was transferred to Ford lines in 1968. In 1967 a Shelby-prepared Ford GT40 Mk4 piloted by Mario Andretti/Bruce MeLaren won the Sebring 12-hours and another was victorious in the Le Mans 24 Hours driven by Dan Gurney/AJ Foyt. In 1968 he had a brief and unsuccessful flirtation with Indianapolis, entering a team of turbine powered cars for Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme. The cars were outclassed and possibly contravened the rules, both items resulting in Shelby's withdrawal. After 1970, Shelby, by now a milionnaire, disappeared from the racing scene.
Going back to the 1958 GP de l'ACF, two other American drivers showed up driving Maseratis 250F: bespectacled former Indy 500 winner Troy Ruttman and Ferrari sportscar ace Phil Hill, released from Ferrari for this race, putting, with American from Paris Harry Schell, the total of American drivers in this race to a respectable four. It was a tragic and eventful day. It was the last race for great J.M. Fangio who decided, during it, to quit racing (he took his 250F Piccolo to fourth place, thanks to some retirements) and for Luigi Musso, the last Italian driver with World Championship potential. Musso needed desperately the win and the prize money that would come with it and he was not a serene man at the start of the race. Hawthorn stormed away at tremendous speed on his favourite track; no driver was as fast as Hawthorn on a good day and Musso tried too hard to keep in touch with him. On the 10th lap he took the ultra-fast righthander at the end of the finishing straight with too much speed: his car left the road and Musso was killed instantly. Hawthorn won the race easily from Moss and von Trips: his only victory in that 1958 season which, thanks to a string of second places and fastest laps, would see him the first British World Champion by a point from Stirling Moss.