Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: Carroll Shelby competed in the 1955 12-Hours of Sebring race despite suffering from what malady?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right.
It’s not surprising that some of the greatest sports cars of our time have come from builders who were former race drivers. Enzo Ferrari, Briggs Cunningham, Carroll Shelby, and to a certain extent, Steve Saleen all started out understanding automotive performance firsthand from behind the steering wheel.
Shelby was an unlikely racer having suffered from a leaking heart valve in his youth, an affliction that kept him bedridden much of his early years. Despite having been considered to have ‘grown out of’ the ailment his heart issues continued to plague him throughout his life. It didn’t seem to impact his natural talent as a racer however, and in his first professional race he managed to drive a puny MGTC past everyone else in his class. He then raced against Jaguar XK120s, a class above, and beat them too.
It wasn’t his heart issues however, that made his entry in the 1955 12-Hours of Sebring race a challenge, it was an injury suffered in a previous contest.
From BoldRide (emphasis added):
In 1954, Aston Martin asked Shelby to drive a DB3 at Sebring. He did so, coming in second. In November of that year he was involved in a devastating accident while participating in the Carrera Pan Americana Mexico, flipping his car four times. The wreck caused substantial damage to one of his arms, requiring multiple surgeries over the next several years to correct.
Usually, a broken arm would sideline most racers for an indefinite time. Not Carroll Shelby. He came back to Sebring in 1955, this time with co-driver Phil Hill. His arm still in a cast at the time, he had his crew tape his hand to the steering wheel so he could compete. When the dust was settled, it looked like the pair had won the competition. Then came the bad news: a scoring error was found, relegating the duo to second place.
Shelby’s heart troubles eventually sidelined his racing career, but it was his time behind the wheel of the Cadillac-powered English Allards that seeded a germ of an idea in his mind. That idea would eventually turn into the Shelby Cobra and establish the former racer and chicken farmer as one of history’s greatest automotive tuners and specialty car makers.