History of the Shelby Mustangs - Shelby: The Untold Stories
From The Men Who Built The Cars
From the March, 2009 issue of Mustang Monthly
By Donald Farr
Photography by Courtesy Shelby Automobiles, The Austin Craig Collection
We've heard the Carroll Shelby stories many times--about how the "Cobra" name came to him in a dream, about how he originally tried to fend off Lee Iacocca's desire to turn the Mustang into a sports car, and about how he named the GT350 by asking an employee about the distance between the office and the shop. Carroll's stories are legendary. But underneath them all and behind the scenes at Shelby American, there were hundreds of men (and a handful of women) who supervised departments, drove the race cars, created and sold parts, and installed the fiberglass hoods, stripes, and other components that transformed Mustangs into Shelby GT350s and GT500s.
In 1964, the Shelby American facility on Princeton Street in Venice, California, was a very busy place. In addition to building and racing Cobras, Shelby had his Goodyear racing tire company and took care of Ford's show cars. By the end of the year, with the addition of the Mustang GT350, 427 Cobra, and Ford GT programs, Shelby American was forced to move to a much larger 96,000 square-foot, 12-acre facility on Imperial Highway at the edge of Los Angeles International Airport. By the end of 1965, some 300 people would be employed there.
Here are some of their stories.
Bernie Kretzschmar, 1965-1967
Bernie Kretzschmar was a 22-year-old speed shop employee and nighttime college student when he drove his '32 Ford roadster to Shelby American on Princeton Street to apply for a job. "I think the car got me the job because they all came out to look at it," Bernie recalls. "I filled out an application and put down that I had eight years of experience working on race cars and hot rods. Plus I had my own tools and could weld."
By the time Bernie Kretzschmar...
By the time Bernie Kretzschmar joined Shelby American in early 1965, the company had moved to the pair of hangars at Los Angeles International Airport.
Like many of the employees there, Bernie had read about Shelby in magazines. "When I showed up, they were hand-forming the first Daytona Coupe, the dyno was running wide open, and these guys were working on these bitchin' cars. I decided that I wanted to be a part of it."
A couple of months passed before Bernie got the call. "They'd moved to the airport by then and were expanding, hiring right and left," Bernie says. "I rolled my toolbox in and thought I'd be working on Cobras. They said, `Not Cobras, we're going to have you work on this other project.' And they had these Mustangs there, which no one had seen before. They were the first fastbacks. I ended up going to work with Jerry Swartz and Mike Sangster on the R-models and Jerry Titus' race car. We built all the R-models and won a national championship with Titus."
Bernie worked in the race shop for three years, primarily attached to Titus, who switched to Trans-Am in 1966. "Chuck Cantwell was our boss," Bernie says. "We were very busy. They always had three guys doing five guys' work. We'd go in at 8 in the morning and work into the evening. By Wednesday we'd have 40 hours in, so the rest of the week would be time and half pay. We worked six days a week unless we were getting ready for Sebring or Daytona, when we'd work seven."
Bernie remembers seeing Carroll Shelby only occasionally. "He'd come trotting through the shop. I'd be head down working on something, and by the time I looked up he'd be gone. He had so many things going on--the GT40 team, the show car division, Goodyear tire division, Daytona Coupe, Cobra, Mustang. I don't know how he slept at night."
Bernie also went on the road as part of the Trans-Am race crew. He recalls a practice session at Green Valley, Texas, when Titus rolled his Mustang hardtop, crushing the roof so far that the windshield was against the steering wheel. "Titus asked if we could fix the car. So we went to a Ford dealer and took over, using their body and paint shop. Instead of going to the parts room to find parts, we just got a new Mustang and pulled off what we needed. We spent all night straightening that car out. We painted it in the middle of the night and ran the next day."
When Bob Carlson first went...
When Bob Carlson first went to Shelby American, he was hoping for a job as a driver. He ended up as the parts guy for the race shop.
In addition to his regular job in the race shop, Bernie also volunteered for other duties, such as taking a Mark II GT40 on a six-month tour of the southern U.S. At one point, he found himself at Ford's San Jose assembly plant changing speedometer gears on four-speeds. "Borg-Warner had sent them with the wrong tailshaft speedo gears. So they gave me a sack of gears and a tool box and I flew up to the assembly plant. In this warehouse were all these four-speeds, about 40 or 50 of them, sticking straight up on pallets. So I got an air gun and worked Friday and all day Saturday changing the gears. On Sunday I went over to Haight-Ashbury and all that, then flew back for work on Monday morning."
Recently, Howard Pardee from the Shelby American Automobile Club called Bernie to tell him that while digging through some of the old Shelby American paperwork, he'd found the invoice where Shelby had billed Borg-Warner. "He asked me to guess how much Shelby billed them for changing those gears. I figured $200. He said they charged them $7,000. Turns out there were 46 four-speeds. Well, they put a `2' in front of it, making it 246. And they said I took them out of the cars to change them."
When Shelby American started shutting down in 1967, Bernie left to start his own shop, where he continued working on Shelby customer cars. A few years later, he joined the Huntington Beach Fire Department. "With a wife and three kids, I needed a real job with medical insurance and a retirement plan. You know how that goes."
Bob Carlson, 1963-1966
Bob Carlson was 19 when he strolled into Shelby American looking for a job as a race car driver. He found himself being questioned by Carroll Shelby. "My father was a mechanic when I was growing up in Ohio and had worked for Art Arfons on the Green Monster, the first drag racing jet car. When I moved to California he told me to look up Carroll Shelby. So I went over to Princeton Street and sat around to wait for an interview. Finally, Carroll came downstairs. I told him I was going to be a race car driver. He said he thought he had something for me and sent me to the parts manager. So I went from being a big-shot driver to a parts guy."
Bob eventually ended up as the parts man in the race shop, where he would track down parts for Phil Remington and the other engineers. He recalls that sometimes on a Thursday afternoon, Shelby would put a "Gone Racing" sign on the door and they would all head out to Riverside. "A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, and Dan Gurney would be there. That's when I figured out I wasn't going to be running on the front row for a long time. They had 10 years of experience on me, so my dreams of being a driver went down the drain."
Later, Carroll created a marketing manager position for Bob, where he placed ads and sold parts to racers around the country. When Shelby and Lew Spencer opened Hi-Performance Motors, he moved there. "I thought that was going to be more fun. We had a lot of movie stars buying cars--Steve McQueen, Mort Sahl, Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys, and the kid from Father Knows Best. Jay Sebring, who later died in the Sharon Tate murders, had a Cobra. He'd bring it down so I could tune it up.
"I heard all the conversations between McQueen, Sahl, and all those car guys. Shelby was like a god to them. He was the toast of Hollywood, all the women were in love with him, and the guys wanted to be just like him. To be part of that program was a thrill because I was thrown into situations with people who were overwhelmingly popular. They used to hang out with me because they wanted to get close to Shelby."
As manager of production operations,...
As manager of production operations, Bruce Junor helped design the GT350 modification line with its pit for installing headers, oil pans, sway bars, and other under-car components.
At one point, Bob rented his personal 289 Cobra to Paramount Studios for an episode of I Spy, starring Bill Cosby. "I hung out all day on the set. When I was getting ready to go home, the assistant director asked me to leave the car for the next day. I said, `Don't let anybody drive it.' So I came back the next day and the car had scratches down the side. I was furious. Turns out, Cosby wanted to take it home. As he was backing out of his driveway, he got too close to the bushes, which had just been trimmed. Anyway, when the shoot was over I took it to one of the best paint shops in southern California and the studio paid for a $1,500 paint job. Looked better than ever, so I was happy."
Bob remembers a salesman at Hi-Performance Motors who ran into a bit of bad luck while on a GT350 testdrive with a customer. "There was a little road called Persian Drive that used to cross the back of the airport. It was a winding street, perfect for a car like the GT350, with sand dunes on both sides. One time the salesman took a man and his son on a testdrive and he rolled the car into one of the sand dunes. Shelby fired him the next day."
Bob left Shelby American in mid-1966. "That's about the time when Shelby decided he wasn't going to put station wagon motors in his 427 Cobras. I was never in on the engineering privy, but Ford made the 427 unavailable for a production car and we started putting 428s in them. About the same time, as the rumor goes, Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford. I could see the writing on the wall. The initial fun and excitement was starting to wane, anyway.
"I had a couple of offers. I could have gone to Australia because they wanted to start a Mustang racing program over there. And Mort Sahl asked me to go to work for him. When you're 21 years old, do you want to go to Australia or do you want to hang out with movie stars? So I went with Mort Sahl."
Bruce Junor, 1964-1965
Bruce Junor was an engineer for Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach when he was asked if he'd be interested in interviewing with Shelby. "The guy made it rather mysterious, asking if I'd be interested in interviewing with a group of guys who were building a specialty car. I had lived in southern California all my life and spent a lot of time fooling with cars. Finally, I learned it was Shelby, at the Princeton Street facility. After some discussion, they asked if I would take over the production operations."
Bruce joined Shelby American in late 1964 as manager of production operations. One of his first assignments was to lay out the Mustang production line at the new LAX facility. But first there were problems getting into the hangars. "It seemed simple because the buildings were empty and the airport people wanted someone to move in. All of a sudden the airport commission decided they had to approve the lease, and why was there going to be an automobile manufacturer at the airport? They said we weren't air commerce. Airborne Freight and TWA Air Freight managed to put their heads together and came up with a story--the truth has never been proven or disproven--saying that we were the largest air freight users in 1963. Of course, we shipped cars around the world. While we were building cars, we were using the airport facilities and the access was useful. So they went along with it and approved the lease."
Finally, in December, the lease was approved and Shelby took over the two large hangars at LAX. Bruce recalls the hassles of preparing an assembly line and getting Mustangs from Ford: "The idea was that we would magically turn it into an automobile manufacturing facility. The word manufacturing is not right; it was a modification line, where cars roll in at one end and you have a process of disassembly as well as a process of assembly.
"Al Dowd and I made several visits to the San Jose assembly plant. I don't think Ford in the USA had done anything like that. They'd delivered a handful of cars to people, but we had an order for 550 high-performance Mustangs, 50 in one configuration and 500 in another.
"Everything that came to us on the car from Ford was standard stuff. Even the Detroit Locker, as I remember, was a Ford special-order thing. I think the rear end was out of a station wagon, and if I'm not mistaken, it was narrowed slightly for our application. All of these things had to be easily bolted in. They had to be able to use the same tools on the production line that they did for the standard cars. That was a big deal and caused modest amounts of grief from time to time.
"They finally got a few Mustangs to us while we were still in the Princeton Street building. We built them on jackstands and went through quite an ordeal to put it all together while we continued to get the plans for the airport going.
"At the airport, we decided to dig a pit in the hangar. There was a lot of design that we put into it. We needed the pit because we didn't want to crawl around on the floor on creepers. The cars came in one end, where they got disassembled and mounted on rollered racks that straddled the pit so they could be pushed manually from station to station. It worked out pretty well. We had a series of steps where we dissembled the cars and put them back together again as GT350s.
"The big deal was the welding in the back; we welded the traction arms into the car. They decided they had to be done over the top of the axle and into the car. That was a spooky proposition which you probably couldn't do today.
"Maybe the most aggravating problem was the little bezel that sat on top of the dash, which had a tachometer and oil pressure gauge. We tried to do that in a way that didn't damage the cars, and to this day I still don't remember how we solved the problem. Running the oil pressure line into the car was a real nuisance. The bezel itself wasn't very robust. It caused us a lot of grief and really screwed up the production process.
"I left as we were planning the '66s, which were met with a variety of mixed reviews. The departure of the Detroit Locker was universally acclaimed as a great idea because nobody liked it. A lot of people complained about it because it clunked."
Bruce related a story that he can tell now but couldn't tell then: "One time there was a Ford gathering at Riverside Raceway. We were still on Princeton Street We built 20 or so Mustangs so Ford execs could drive them and the dealers could see what was going on. Suddenly, the phone starts ringing because the cars stopped running and there were some fairly nasty accusations. What happened was, in the haste to get the 289 High Performance engines built, there was a run of engines with camshafts that had not been heat-treated to harden the lobes. So that meant it didn't take long for the cams to wear out. The engines would go sour then stop running. There was a lot of angst over that. But it became pretty obvious that it had something to do with the manufacturing of the engine at Ford."
Bruce has great memories from his time at Shelby American. "If you liked working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you loved the place. My wife has never quite forgotten about it. I ended up getting fired. Shelby hired a guy to come in to run the place. He had a reputation as a hatchet man. He found some guys he wanted to hatchet and I was one of them. I went into the electronics business, on the cutting edge of integrated circuits, which was a pretty exotic art form in the '60s. Then I ended up going to work for Dan Gurney for about seven years."
Mark Waco, 1966-1967
Initially, Mark Waco worked at Shelby's Goodyear tire division, where he mounted tires at the races and for the GT350 Mustangs. With his frequent trips into the production shop with Blue Dots, he got to know many of the production guys and ended up switching to the line. "I was tired of mounting tires," he says.
It was mid-1966, so he started working as the last of the '66 GT350s were being built. "It was pretty basic because they didn't do as much of a conversion as they did on the '65s and early '66s, as far as suspension relocation and things like that. I was on a lot of different stations. I think I started out putting on the sidescoops, valve covers, and emblems. I moved around somewhat. I also took the cars off the line and drove them around the perimeter to test them.
"On the '67s, we had the scoops and such to put on. Most of it was emblems and valve covers and stuff like that. One thing I did on the '67s was the superchargers. I was assigned to that for Mustangs and Cobras. There weren't that many of them. I worked with Vincent Granatelli at Paxton. Most of them were done in the race hangar after the cars came off the line.
"I was enjoying myself. I was 22 and had just gotten married. I wasn't making much money but I didn't know any better. Looking back, I think I appreciate it more now than I did at the time. I don't think anybody back then realized the lasting effect the cars would have.
"When they vacated the LAX facility and moved to Torrance, I went to work for a Lincoln-Mercury dealer who sponsored a race car for me. I ran a B-production GT350 and won a regional championship with it. I sold cars for five months, then got into Trans-Am with American Racing Associates."
Lew Spencer, 1965-1969
Lew Spencer was working for a Morgan and A.C. distributor in 1961 when Carroll Shelby called to ask for a price on an A.C. rolling chassis. They met at a local restaurant. Lew gave Shelby a price and Shelby divulged his plans to drop a small-block Ford engine into the little sports car. "I can still see him walking away down the sidewalk," Lew says. "I said to myself, `There's no way he can put that deal together.' But of course he did."
Lew ended up driving for Shelby in 1963, then opened Hi-Performance Motors with Shelby, Al Dowd, Tom Reese, and Peyton Cramer. "It was called Carroll Shelby and Lew Spencer's Hi-Performance Motors. I don't remember the date when that started, but we closed it in September 1965, and I went to work at Shelby American. Hi-Performance Motors still existed after that but it was just shop maintenance. At Hi-Performance Motors, we thought we could sell some Cobras and GT350s. But Ford came along and said, `You can't sell GT350s; they can only be sold from an approved list of Ford dealers.' So, basically, that shot everything down."
When Lew officially became a Shelby American employee, he was hired as the Competition Sales Manager. "Part of it was getting rid of the cars that came back from team use in Europe. There was nothing more worthless than a year-old race car with no place to race. I laugh about that now because we had the six Daytona Coupes and had to beg people to buy them for $5,000." (Editor's note: Today, the Daytona Coupes are valued in the millions).
Competition Sales also assisted racers. "We helped people racing Shelby and Ford cars. We did mechanical bulletins and got them parts. In some cases, we gave them free parts, depending on how successful they were. And we made payments to them based on their finishing positions, both GT350 and Cobra. Then it was decided that there should be a Trans-Am car. Chuck Cantwell was the project manager for the GT350 and developed both the R-model and the Trans-Am car."
As team manager, Lew Spencer...
As team manager, Lew Spencer was instrumental in Shelby `s Trans-Am activities from late 1966 through 1969. That's Lew at the left, sitting on the front fender, in Victory Lane at Modesto in 1967.
From 1966 through 1969, Lew served as Shelby's Trans-Am manager. Lew recalls how Shelby got involved in Trans-Am: "The last race of 1966 was at Riverside. If a Mustang won, Ford would win the Trans-Am title. So we got a budget from Ford--$5,000--to build a car for Jerry Titus. Jerry won the championship for Ford. Then it was decided that we should run a Trans-Am team for 1967. That got interesting because Bud Moore was the official Ford team and he was running Cougars. That was the year the Cougar was introduced, so they had a big push behind it. They had a big budget and could get anything they wanted. We got limited funding through Ray Geddes, who was Ford's representative to Shelby. Ray found a little bit of money in his budget and told Shelby to take it and go racing. So with a limited budget and without any real sanctioning from Ford, we went Trans-Am racing. We got Jerry Titus as our number-one driver and successfully ran the series."
After a disastrous 1968 Trans-Am season with unreliable, Ford-built Tunnel-Port 302 engines, Shelby headed into the 1969 season with a pair Boss 302 Mustangs, along with a second team from Bud Moore. The season started well enough, with Parnelli Jones winning the first race for Bud Moore and Sam Posey, substituting for Shelby team driver Peter Revson, taking the second. At mid-season, things headed downhill. Lew relates, "At Donnybrook, Horst Kwech went off the end of the straight and destroyed one car. Then we went to Michigan in the rain; Horst went through the fence and crashed into a spectator car, killing someone. Then we went to St. Jovite with our last two cars. George Follmer (in a Bud Moore car) blew his engine and our cars spun in the oil. It caused a massive wreck. One of our cars flipped over the barrier. The wrecking crew put a chain through the window to pick it up and that destroyed the car. So at that point we had four wrecked cars. We went back to Kar Kraft, and with their help and our crew, we put two cars together. From then on we could never get the cars to handle. Nothing worked, so at the end of 1969 we really looked bad. After that, Shelby got out of racing. That ended me."
Lew was also in the wrong place at the wrong time when Ford ended its racing programs in 1970. "[Ford's Director of Special Vehicle Activities] Jacque Passino had always been good to me and he put me with Holman-Moody/Stroppe in Long Beach. We were ready to take a performance parts program to the SEMA Show when Ford shut down its racing and performance programs. That closed Holman-Moody. Jerry Titus wanted me to come with his team. I wasn't doing anything else so I went with him. I went to Elkhart Lake for my first race with him and that's when he crashed. Two weeks later, he died. It wasn't a good time."
Lew eventually returned to work for Carroll Shelby, primarily as a troubleshooter for Carroll's various businesses. "He had some problems with his Carroll Shelby Original Chili Company so I got sent to run that for a while. Then he started the Carroll Shelby Clothing Company. He was having trouble with that so I was sent in to get it sorted out, and we did. He ended up getting rid of it."
How does Lew feel about his time with Shelby American? "We knew it was unique. It was special and loads of fun. We knew it was pretty big as far as automotive performance and racing was concerned, but none of us had any concept that it would become as big as it has today."
Chuck Cantwell with the prototype...
Chuck Cantwell with the prototype '67 GT500.
Chuck Cantwell, 1964-1968
Chuck Cantwell has a good reason to remember his first hectic days at Shelby American in late 1964. "When I first came out, they had 10 or 11 cars they wanted to get finished by Christmas, which we did. Then I flew back to Michigan on Christmas Eve and got married the day after Christmas. My wife and I drove out to California between Christmas and New Year's with a little U-Haul trailer. Of course, the first thing they told me at Shelby was that we were going to be working six days a week, 10 hours a day. So I didn't get to see much of my new wife for a while."
Like many other employees, Chuck was doing the right things at the right time when he got the call from Shelby American. He was working for GM Styling in Detroit and was also racing an MG-B in the local sports car club. "One of the fellows from Chevrolet engineering went to work for Ray Geddes at Ford. When Ford decided to do the GT350 program, they needed someone as project engineer. So I flew out to California and interviewed with Carroll and Peyton Cramer. I got an offer and accepted it around the first of October 1964."
As project manager for the GT350, Chuck was instrumental in the design and production of the Shelby Mustangs, both street and R-model. "I spent the first three weeks at Ford going over program objectives. Ken Miles and crew had done a couple of notchbacks. They'd worked up the suspension and a lot of the parts. So we had an idea of what we wanted to do. But we had to solidify the designs and sources for the parts. We knew pretty much what the engine parts were going to be. Pete Brock had done a styling car with some of the emblem stuff, which changed when the GT350 name was decided on. He'd done the race car rear windshield and figured out what to do with the back seat taken out. We finalized a lot of those details after I got out there."
Working with Ford's San Jose assembly plant was also part of the job. "We knew what we weren't going to use but we didn't know what we could delete or add on the assembly line. I spent a day or so with the folks in San Jose and learned that the cars had to drive off the assembly line, so we couldn't delete all the engine parts we weren't going to use. And they couldn't put on headers and that kind of stuff. It was during that trip that I found the export brace on the assembly line. It was there for export cars so we were able to spec that for the car.
"If they could substitute something without screwing up the production line, they would do it, like putting in the transmissions. For the race cars, they would leave out the sealant and fillers to take out some weight. We had to define the special order numbers (DSO, for Dealer Special Order) so we could keep it simple. Once we had the specs, then we could order by a group number. That way, they could do everything the same."
Chuck recalls that sourcing the special performance parts was time consuming. "We had a Ford purchasing guy who came out. He'd done some source work out there before for race cars and knew fiberglass guys, the Buddy Bar casting people, and so on. We started out painting the stripes, then we got a vinyl shop to do them so they could be applied all at once. The headers were stock Tri-Ys from Cyclone. Everything that went on a car, I was involved with it in one way or another.
"By the time we got the '65s done, making changes as we went along, we had to start on the '66 car; per normal, we were behind on it by the time we started. The quarter-windows had to be designed. It took some time to get sources to make up the pieces and decide how to put them together. We started '66 with all the '65 modifications still on the cars. That changed after a while, which was sort of a production relief thing. Then the '67s came right on top of that and we had the GT500 to deal with. For 1968, Ford sent guys out and we worked with them on the design. Then they took it back to Michigan so they could build the cars at A.O. Smith."
In addition to the street Mustangs, Chuck also worked with the race cars, especially the R-models and including the hassle of building a minimum number of cars by early 1965 to make them legal for SCCA competition. "We had enough cars on-site when the SCCA came to check, or in line to be built, that they could see we were serious. We probably didn't have the number they wanted to see finished, but they could see we were building them and had parts ordered. They were happy enough that they approved the car. It was probably more of a political thing.
"With the SCCA, we pretty much had to show that we were going to do what they wanted us to do. On an SCCA production car, you could do engine modifications if they were specified and allowed. Basically, it was supposed to be production so we put all the good racing stuff on the production cars. The difference was the racing wheels and tires and racing engines. The rear windshield was a different thing but we were able to get it approved as an option. Taking the bumpers off was allowable. We had a front valance to replace the original bumper and valance, and they approved that as an option.
"The difference between the race car and the street car was the engines. We ran them at Riverside one time and the race car was about 7 seconds a lap faster than the street car. That was mostly engine and tires.
"At the end of 1965, I had to do the homologation stuff for the '66 Trans-Am cars. That was another `Get it done before Christmas' project. We went to a dealership to take pictures and sent them back to Ford, telling them to airbrush in the wheels because we didn't have any. Right at January 1966, we bought a Mustang notchback and made it into a Trans-Am car. So all that stuff was going on while we were producing and working on the street cars.
"Ford was more involved with the 1968 season. We got through a 24-hour race with the first set of Tunnel-Port engines, then Sebring, a 12-hour race. But then we ran the race after that and had a problem with something falling off the carburetor, which shouldn't have happened but sometimes those things bite you in the tail. So that's when Ford decided they were going to build all the engines and they blew up every race. If we'd have kept building them we would have done alright. Our guys could build them and make them run. We got engines from Ford and they said, `Don't touch them.' The problem was that with those big Tunnel-Port valves, we had to run them at 8,000-9,000 rpm to take advantage of the design. We'd go to the race, blow one, and have to put a second and third one in. One time, I had our engine guy pull the rocker covers to check the adjustments, a basic thing you do on a race engine. The engine was missing rocker arms and pushrods."
Lew looks back with great fondness on the people he worked with at Shelby American. But one stands out: "Ken Miles was very competitive. It's a terrible shame he didn't win LeMans. He died shortly after that. He had just learned to fly when I came out. Some of the flights were rather adventurous. He hadn't flown much. The first time we flew to Willow Springs for testing, he was getting the plane out of the hangar and hit the tip of the wing on the hangar door. So he got out the duct tape and fixed it. Another time he landed in a crosswind. There was a sort of a path that was packed down a bit at a 40 degree angle to the runway so he could try to get out of some of the crosswind. So we landed on that and got pulled off into the soft dirt. The wheel dug in and we went onto the wing tip, straight up and nose down. Another inch and we'd have gone over the top. It stalled straight up and fell back to the ground. Nobody got hurt except for the airplane."
Like other employees, Chuck saw the writing on the wall at the end of 1968. "I knew that 1969 was the last year for the Ford program and Carroll had pretty much lost interest. That's when Roger Penske talked to me. I grew up in Indiana and was familiar with southeastern Pennsylvania, so I ended moving there in 1969 to work for Penske. I was team manager for the Trans-Am cars and general manager of the race shop for five years."
The Legend Connection
Bob Shaw was selling Mustang and Cobra posters at a Long Beach swap meet when a former Shelby American employee introduced himself. Moments later, another former employee walked up and joined the conversation.
"I just stood back and let them talk," Bob says. "It was a pleasure to watch. They hadn't seen each other for over 30 years. So I thought it would be bitchin' if we could get all these guys together. I started collecting names and putting the word out. Slowly but surely we started getting the names. Now the reunion is something they look forward to."
Bob created the Legend Connection to provide communication, support, and reunions for former Shelby American employees from the '60s. Through donations and sale of memorabilia, the organization has also helped a number of employees with health issues and other financial needs. Carroll Shelby has quietly contributed, Bob says.
"Carroll loves it," Bob continues. "He realizes that these guys should get credit. They did all the work. All he did was hire them. He appreciates them now more than ever."
The Legend Connection maintains a list of former employees, both living and deceased. If you're a former Shelby American employee or know of someone, contact Bob Shaw through the website at www.legendconnection.org.
|Checkered Flag (Deceased)|
|Donn Allen||Klaus Arning||Charles Beidler Jr.|
|Jim Benevides||Jerry Bondio||Cecil Bowman|
|Robert Boxx||Ronnie Buckham||Roy Butfoy|
|Dante Cardone||Ed Casey||Andy Cisterning|
|John Collins||Jim Culleton||Ray Cuomo|
|Warren Davenport||Alan "Al" Dowd||Dennis Ercek|
|Sherman Falconer||Joe Farrer||Barry Galloway|
|Ray A. Geddes||Richie Ginther||Fred L. Goodell|
|Tom Greatorex||Chuck Green||Hellen Green|
|Tom Haynes||John Heineman||Ray Heppenstall|
|Bob Holbert||Vern Houle||Skip Hudson|
|Ernie Immerso||Innis Ireland||William Jean Sr.|
|Earl Jones||Hal Keck||Max Kelley|
|Garry Koike||Laurie Korman||Mahlon Lamoreaux|
|Joe Landeker||Fred Larsen||Bob Lee|
|Ed Leslie||John Liefeld||Bill Likes|
|Dave McDonnald||James McLean||Cary McSquid|
|Heintz Merten||George Merwin||Ken Miles|
|Mollie Miles||Bob Negstad||Nick Nero|
|John Ohlsen||Ole Olson||Haleen Olson|
|Bob Olthoff||Leroy Pike||Jack Russell|
|Carroll Smith||Dick Smith||Bob Sorrell|
|Doane Spencer||John Timanus||Jerry Titus|
|Maurice Trintignant||Louis Unser||Ray Wolfe|
|Robert "Bob" Wyatt Sr.|
|Kerry Agapiou||1963-66||race mechanic, crew chief|
|Bob "Tweety" Aldredge||1964-67||body, paint, prototype|
|Donnie Araki||1969||Trans-Am team|
|Jack Aylesbury||1965-69||engine shop, Trans-Am|
|Raoul "Sonny" Balcaen||1964-66||parts and accessories|
|Jack Balch||1965-66||race shop foreman|
|Leo C. Beebe||'60s||Ford's Competition Director|
|George Boskoff||1961-62 ||whatever it took|
|Lonnie Brannan||1965-69||GT production|
|Pete Brock||1961-65||special projects, designer|
|Bert Brown||1966-70||GT350/500 assembly, parts manager, Trans-Am mechanic|
|Peter Bryant||1964-65||mechanic, fabricator|
|Bruce Burness||1963-64||engine development, fabricator|
|Ron Butler||5½ years||crew chief, fabricator|
|James Camp||1965||western field sales manager|
|Chuck Cantwell||1964-68||GT350 project manager, sales, engineering, Trans-Am|
|Andre Capella (Gessner)||2 years||427 Cobra production|
|Bob Carlson||1964-66||parts, marketing|
|John M. Chun||1967||designer|
|Don Coleman||1967-69||Ford GT and sports cars, Trans-Am|
|Graham Collins||1963-71||mechanic, crew chief|
|Dennis Daly||1963-64||mechanic, welder|
|Doug Dwyer||1966-68||tire tech, driver|
|Ernie Eckmann||2 years||GT350 assembly, fabricator|
|Shelby Legends, cont.|
|Ryan Falconer||1964-66||engine builder|
|Ralph Falconer||1963-65||engine builder, Dragonsnake|
|"Bobbie" Wirth Farley||1965-70||race secretary|
|Rosa Farrer||1966-67||clay modeler, Mustang|
|Harold "Sonny" Fee||1964-67||show car, Trans-Am|
|Tim Foraker||1965-67||purchasing, parts|
|Joe Freitas||1963-65||truck driver, mechanic|
|Roy Gammell||Moon Equipment, chief mechanic|
|Doyle Gammell||Moon Equipment, mechanic|
|Jiggs Garcia||1966-68||chassis mechanic|
|Dennis Toomey||1963-67||body, paint|
|Dennis Gragg||1963-68||painter, fabricator|
|Jerry Grant||president, Motorsports Unlimited, driver|
|Allen Grant||3 years||mechanic, driver, sales|
|Elmer Grimsgaard||1963-64||purchasing, Hi-Performance Motors|
|Dan Gurney||1963-65||driver, engineer|
|John Guth||1967-68||fiberglass, Ionia quality control|
|Wayne Guyer||2 years||fabrication|
|J. L. Henderson||1963-07||Carroll Shelby Enterprises|
|Phil Henny||1967-68||mechanic, fabricator|
|Jack Hoare||1963-65||engine development|
|Eric Hoopingarner||1964-65||special projects|
|Deke Houlgate||public relations|
|William Jean Jr.||1962||truck driver, fabricator|
|Fred and Faye Johnson||1966-69||shipping/receiving, parts sales|
|Dave "Davey" Jordan||1967-68||driver|
|Bruce Junor||1964-65||production operations|
|Dick Keith||1964-68||purchasing, Hi-Performance Motors parts manager|
|Shelby Legends, cont.|
|Alex "Skeet" Kerr||3 years||special projects, designer|
|Jack Khoury||1963-69||production supervisor|
|Jere Kirkpatrick||1963-66||production foreman, Dragonsnake driver|
|Bernie Kretzschmar||1965-67||mechanic, Titus|
|Paul Kunysz||1964-68||production, show car|
|Frank Lance||1958-64||Carroll Shelby Sports Cars, mechanic|
|Dick Lins||1965||GT350R project engineer|
|Sherry L. MacDonald||1963-64||wife of team driver Dave MacDonald|
|Madeleine Makaeff||wife of John, production manager|
|Don McCain||1963-66||sales, drag car|
|Bill McLean||1964-66||GT350/Cobra assembly, show car|
|Ralph Mora||1965-68||body man|
|John Morton||1962-65||driver, fabricator|
|D. Max Muhleman|
|Jim O'Leary||1963-68||engine development|
|Leonard Parsons||1962-64||production manager, mechanic, fabricator, drag car|
|Scooter Patrick||1968||Shelby Toyota '00 GT driver|
|Wayne "Red" Pierce||1963-74||mechanic, fabricator, parts, truck driver|
|Don Pike||1962-70||engine shop manager, show car|
|Hike Pollem||1964-69||field sales manager, central states|
|Mark Popov-Dadiani||1963-68||mechanic, fabricator|
|Ron Pushea||1965-70||sales, tire tech, warehouse|
|Don Rabbitt||1965-67||third director of public relations|
|Phil Remington||8 years||chief engineer|
|Dean Rhode||1966-67||paint, body, show car|
|Jim Riddle||1965-70||sales, service, parts|
|Antone Robinnson||1965-67||paint and body|
|Shelby Legends, cont.|
|Ronald Sampson||1965-68||fabricator, mechanic, crew chief|
|Jerry Schwarz||1964-69||chief mechanic|
|Carroll Shelby||1962-present||The Boss|
|Stephen Shuttack||4 years||mechanic|
|George Spears||1967-70||parts, general manager, Spearco Performance|
|Lew Spencer||1963-70||driver, Trans-Am team manager|
|Jean "John" Stucki||2 years||mechanic|
|Fred Sutherland||1966-67||driver, 66 SCCA champion|
|Ted Sutton||1963-65||mechanic, fabricator, crew chief|
|Ellis W. Taylor||fabricator, show car|
|Steele Therkleson||1965-69||mechanic, tool maker|
|Donald S. Thomas||1964||painter for brochures and photos|
|Rick Titus||son of Jerry|
|Merle D. Van Steenwyk||1963-65||fabricator, race shop|
|Robert D. Vickery Sr.||1964-68||parts, planning|
|Mark Waco||1966-67||GT350/500 and Cobra assembly|
|Denis Walsh||1967-69||scheduler, sales|
|Mel Wentzel||mid-'60s||CSX2127, SFM65118|
|Karen L. (Griffin) Wetzel||1965||clerk, parts|
|Paul Yocum||1964-66||fabricator, parts|