Carroll Shelby was born on this day in 1923, and while the great Texan is remembered as the man who tamed the Cobra, he was first and foremost a racing driver.
Racing sportscars for Aston Martin in Europe in 1958 earned Shelby a drive in four Grand Prix with a Maserati 250F entered by the independent Scuderia Centro Sud outfit.
Shelby manhandled the outdated machine to the best of his ability, achieving a fourth place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza during a drive he shared with good friend Masten Gregory
However, his close relationship with Aston Martin fueled his desire to drive the manufacturer’s new F1 car in 1959. Unfortunately, the potential shown by the beautiful DBR4 when it was first wheeled out and tested just vanished as the season wore on.
“It really wasn’t worth a shit,” Shelby remembered in his typical no-nonsense talk.
“At Silverstone, we were right up there with the best, and then it kept going down on horsepower all year. The more they worked on it, the worse it got. I have no idea what the hell happened.”
At the end of the 1959 season, the plug was pulled on Shelby and Aston Martin’s efforts in F1.
The team nevertheless rejoiced in their resounding victory that summer in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where the American shared the winning DBR1/300 with fellow Aston stalwart Roy Salvadori.
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