Thursday, September 8, 2011

America's First Racing School / Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving

Carroll Shelby’s racing career grew out of a trip to a drag race in 1952. Later that year Shelby got behind the wheel of an MG TC and raced in his first road race, determined to win, and that he did.
In November of 1954, while racing in the Carrera Pan Americana in Mexico, Shelby crashed, flipping his car four times. It was his first serious accident. In 1955, he raced with his arm in a cast due to follow-up surgeries as a result of the accident. Later that same year, at Torrey Pines, Carroll beat Phil Hill while driving a Ferrari. Nothing was to keep him down.

In 1956 and 1957 Shelby was named "Driver of the Year" by Sports Illustrated magazine. He entered Formula One Racing in 1958, and in 1959 went on to win the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans with co-driver Ray Salvadori. His last race would be on October 23nd, 1960 at the Pacific Grand Prix for Sports cars at Laguna Seca. He finished 2nd for the day behind the wheel of a Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati. He was in such chest pain due to a heart condition after the race, that he called it quits.

Retiring from racing in 1961, he decided to open a Goodyear Racing Tire Distributorship and a driving school at a young Riverside International Raceway, called "Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving." He also called upon his friend, Pete Brock, to manage to operation. This school later became the Bob Bondurant school in 1968 at a SoCal drag strip and small road course called Orange County Raceway. When the Ontario Motor Speedway in California was built the school was moved to a dedicated road race/oval track. However, when Ontario was to be demolished after several years, the school was moved to its present location in Phoenix, Arizona.

Blog follower, Cameron Kane send in most of these photos from his father, Clark. Here's the story.
His father was at Riverside Raceway a lot in those days, and raced a H Modified Renault. Being a Sheriff in Riverside he was able to work the safety crew at the track. Which led to him being able to hang around with Shelby and Pete Brock at the driving school and when they did the 24 hrs with  Corvairs at Riverside, also when the 1st Cobra was made.

PR. photo release for Driving School. Image Carroll Shelby Archives.

PR. photo release for Driving School. Image Carroll Shelby Archives.

Pete Brock explains the fine art of driving. Image © Clark Kane

Pete Brock conducting the chalk talk with students. Image © Clark Kane

Carroll Shelby at the wheel with student, one of the first Cobras. Image © Clark Kane

Carroll Shelby laying rubber down the straight at Riverside. Image © Clark Kane

Carroll with last words of advice, Pete Brock's camera clicking away. Image © Clark Kane 

How would you like to do a Driving School in a Cobra? Image © Clark Kane

Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving brochure. Image Carroll Shelby Archives.

Related posts: Shelby Cobras
                       Speaking of Cobras

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  1. Ahmet emailed: Fantastic!!!!!

    Many thanks



  2. John Bessey wrote: "A good friend of mine attended Shelby's driving school (still has his certificate) after he bought a 427 competition Cobra (wished he still had). "

  3. Jack Bair wrote: "Thanks for sharing John! What a nice piece of history! Great pics too!"

  4. Cameron Kane wrote: "Thanks John, my dads got alot of memories and stories from Riverside (some probably true even!)"

  5. Cameron Kane wrote: "I think the red one is the #3 car. My dad said it always smoked on startup like that, he claims because it had no valve guide seals for better lubrication!"

  6. GREAT tribute story to the man, Carroll. Thanks for the great memories.

  7. He will be missed! He's an icon in the automotive world.

  8. I am very amazed by the information of this blog and i am glad i had a look over the blog. thank you so much for sharing such great information.
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  9. Has anyone got any color pictures of the blue Cobra training car?

  10. Great stuff. I believe I own a car that was used as a demonstration vehicle at one of the very early 'Corvette ' only schools. The owner was Ed Hamill and he was a very early employee, he believes #4.