Carroll Shelby, 1923 - 2012

When one thinks of iconic American cars, the AC Cobra and Shelby Mustang are among the first vehicles that come to mind.

The man behind those classic muscle cars, Carroll Shelby, died today in Texas at the age of 89. The cause of death was not disclosed.

The race car driver-turned-engineer led a colorful life that had its share of brushes with death.

LA Times: While trying to fend off an anticipated heart attack, he drove in a 200-mile race in 1960 with nitroglycerin pills underneath his tongue, finishing third at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey.

“If I hadn't slowed down each time I popped one of those pills, I might have won,” he said, then announced his retirement as a driver later that year after clinching the U.S. Road Racing championship series at Riverside International Speedway.

Shelby survived that heart attack scare and a couple organ transplants to make it to 89. Along the way, he left an indelible mark on America's car culture. -- JTW

Read more:  LA Times

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