Historic Cobra Daytona to star at Shelby tribute

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Peter Brock, designer of the Le Mans-winning Cobra Daytona Coupe, will be one of the Elegance at Speed panelists | Carroll Shelby Foundation
The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is the car that beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964 | Carroll Shelby Foundation
The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964 | Carroll Shelby Foundation

Probably the most celebrated of American race cars, the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that claimed victory in the GT class 50 years ago in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, returns to Southern California on May 17 for the second annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show.

The event, at the future home of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum in Gardena, Calif., features a Ford and Shelby car show, an awards ceremony and an expert panel, plus the legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2299) that in 1964 delivered the first-ever Le Mans class win for the United States and for Shelby’s racing team.

The Cobra Daytona was designed by a young Peter Brock at the request of Carroll Shelby, who wanted to increase the speeds of his Cobra roadsters on Le Man’s fast Mulsanne Straight. Brock came up with a controversial aerodynamic solution that succeeded in beating the reigning Ferrari 250 GTOs in the GT III Class in the 1964 Le Mans marathon and also helped the Shelby American team take the World Manufacturers Championship from Ferrari in 1965.

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Carroll Shelby has been the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, team owner and manufacturer.” [/pullquote]

At Le Mans in 1964, the Cobra Daytona was raced by the driving team of Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant and clocked more than 196 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. CSX2299 was the second Cobra Daytona Coupe built, completed at Carrozzeria Gransport in Modena, Italy, and powered by a 289cid Ford V8.

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“Carroll Shelby has been the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, team owner and manufacturer,” said Neil Cummings, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and a trustee for the Carroll Shelby Foundation. “For enthusiasts, this is a rare opportunity to see the Cobra Daytona Coupe that ended the reign of Ferrari’s GTO at the future home of a museum dedicated to Shelby accomplishments.”

The Le Mans-winning Cobra Daytona was owned by the late Larry H. Miller and is now kept at the museum named after him at Miller Motorsports Park museum in Tooele, Utah. Proceeds from the Shelby tribute benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation and the new museum. Admission is free, with donations encouraged.

Shelby cars from the past five decades will be on display during the show in Gardena, and owners of Shelby- and Ford powered performance vehicles are invited to enter their cars; a registration form and event information can be found at the Carroll Shelby Foundation website, www.cscf.org.

Organizers plan to re-enact a signature feature of last year’s inaugural tribute: the engine rev salute. Enthusiasts are encouraged to join fans worldwide at 1 p.m. (Pacific time) on May 17 in the “Rev Your Engine” salute to the life of Carroll Shelby.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.