East Texans remember Carroll Shelby - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texans remember Carroll Shelby

Innovative sports car designer and East Texas native Carroll Shelby passed away Thursday at the age of 89.

The man that influenced the car world in such a large way also impacted so many people's lives.

"He was a pioneer and an amazing marketer," Craig Chelsey said.

"He was a racer. Whatever he did, his interest was in going fast," Lindsey Bradley said.

From a Texas chicken farmer to an international hot rodder, Carrol Shelby made his mark in car history as an innovative sports car designer and became an East Texas legend.

KLTV's Joan Hallmark interviewed Shelby in 1998 and he said he remembers the moment his passion for cars began. 

[Click here to watch Carroll Shelby's Proud of East Texas with Joan Hallmark]

"I loved sports cars from the very first moment I saw them," Shelby said.

Shelby was born in Leesburg,  right outside of Pittsburgh. He first entered the car scene as a racer, then he reached his height of fame as a designer of the Cobra and Shelby Mustang, and helped design the Viper.

"I wake up every night with two or three cars I want to design," Shelby said.

Many East Texas car enthusiasts and sports car buffs around the world say Shelby's cars were legendary.

"They are the Holy Grail of Fords," David Irwin, Tyler Ford's managing partner said, "You know, a Shelby is just a Shelby. A Ford guy will know what I'm talking about. Shelby is a Shelby and that's just a top of the line Mustang."

Owner of three of Shelby's car designs, Lindsey Bradley, remembers the moment he met him.

"He was just relaxed, down to earth, just very much an East Texan at heart," Bradley recalled.

Bradley describes driving one of Shelby's car like, "nothing you can imagine."

"It's a real rush. Not only the deceleration, but you can feel the car," Bradley said. "As you corner, it just corners differently then any other car. Your eyes just get big and you are like... Wow."

In this East Texas car community and in the international sports car world, a great mind and innovator like Carrol Shelby will be greatly missed.

"He was a kind of a one of a kind American. A true entrepreneur at heart  and with his ideas, just a great marketing mind," Bradley said, "He set a great example and he will be truly missed."

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