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en:Carroll Shelby standing next to a Maserati 450S that he raced in 1957. He won the first race at VIR in a sister car to this 450S.

Danville, Va. (March 28) – Carroll Shelby, star race driver of the 50s, originator of the legendary Cobra and legend in sports car racing, will return to the scene of one of his most significant wins – Virginia International Raceway for the June 8–10 Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the track’s opening, in August, 1957, the Gold Cup reunites Shelby with the track and his original Maserati 450S in which he captured the opening weekend’s feature race, a twenty–lap race for “Sports” classed cars. Shelby won the preliminary race for the group, then went on to dominate the feature race, besting a pair of Jaguar D–types and an assortment of other racers.

Following the race, in heat nearing 100 degrees, Shelby commented that “One lap at VIR is like a hundred at Watkins Glen.” Shelby then went on to co–drive an Aston Martin DBR1 with Roy Salvadori in winning the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans before a forced retirement due to a heart ailment that led to a transplant in 1990.

VIR Co–Owner Harvey Siegel said: “We were thrilled that Carroll Shelby joined us as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of VIR. He is one of the true legends of the sport and an integral part of VIR’s early history.”

Shelby never slowed his personal activities, building the Cobra sports cars; campaigning cars for Ford’s GT–40 project and designing sports cars for street and racetrack. He is still a driving force in high performance cars. Carroll Shelby manufactures both small and big block Cobras, as well as the 2007 Ford Shelby GT Mustang in his Las Vegas facility. He works closely with Ford Motor Company on high performance vehicles such as the Shelby GT500 and has several other key cars in the pipeline. Shelby’s current activities include the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation, which has become a leading force in the fight to help children with acute coronary and kidney needs.

Shelby returned to the scene of one of his most storied victories, Virginia International Raceway, for the track’s 50th Anniversary, June 8–10. 2007

(Photo by Sherry Lambert)

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Author Sherry Lambert Stapleton
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