Most Famous Names in the Car Industry

If you were going to come up with a list of the most famous people in the car industry in the last 50 years, you would probably include names like Lee Iacocca, Richard Petty, A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, Don Garlits, Andy Granatelli, Mario Andretti, or Wally Parks. But the two men in this picture definitely deserve to be included in that group.

Carroll Shelby with his good friend Parnelli Jones.
Carroll Shelby with his good friend Parnelli Jones.

Parnelli Jones was just one of those names I knew when I was a kid in the 60’s. Maybe it was because in 1963 he won the Indy 500. Throughout the late 50’s and 60’s, Parnelli won races in all kinds of racing. He won 15 races in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series. He won the USAC Sprint Car Championship 3 times. He was the USAC stock car champion in 1964. He had 25 midget car feature wins in occasional races between 1960 and 1967. Later in his career, Parnelli started Off-Road racing, winning the Mexican 1000 twice, as well as the Mint 500 and the Baja 500.

Carroll Shelby is best know for the cars he developed like the Shelby Cobra, Shelby GT500 and even the Dodge Viper. Many do not realize the he began his career as a pilot and a race car driver. Carroll served as a flight instructor and test pilot for the Army Air Corps in World War II. He was the Sports Illustrated’s driver of the year in 1956 and 1957. He went to Europe in 1958 and 1959 and raced in the Formula One Series. In 1959, Carroll driving an Aston Martin, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He retired the following year and started a race car driving school and the now famous Shelby American Company. He teamed with Lee Iacocca at Ford to produce high performance Mustangs and then later Iacocca asked Shelby to join him at Chrysler to help develop the Dodge Viper. He is still going strong, can be seen regularly at car events, and his cars are more popular than ever.

For more information on Carroll Shelby, go to his company website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *