JIM ADAMS got his start driving MGs and Sunbeam Tigers, another Shelby conversion like the Cobra. An “amateur” driver with professional capabilities, he was a member of the Shelby American team in 1965.
JOHN CANNON was an English-born Canadian who was active in USRRC and Can-Am sports car racing in the 1960s. In 1969 he switched to open-wheeled Formula A/5000 cars and won the 1970 Championship. He died in a light airplane crash in 1999.
JAMES T. CROW was an editor of Road & Track in the 1960s and one of the top automotive journalists.
MARK DONOHUE rose from his first professional ride at Sebring 1965 to become one of the most famous names of the era. As lead driver and engineer for Penske Racing, the familiar Sunoco-sponsored cars he built and raced competed in sports car, endurance, Trans-Am, Formula A/5000, Can-Am, Formula One, Indy car and NASCAR stock car racing, in most cases all in the same season. He won USRRC Championships in 1967 and ‘68, the Daytona 24-hours in 1969, Trans-Am Championships in 1968, ‘69 and ‘71, the Indianapolis 500 in 1972, and the Can-Am Championship in 1973. After briefly retiring, he was tragically killed as a result of a practice accident at the Austrian Formula One GP in 1975.
DAN GURNEY has carried the All American banner in international racing for nearly 50 years. He is the only American to win a Formula One race in a car of his own construction (Spa 1967). A week earlier he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with A.J. Foyt in a Ford Mk IV. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Gurney’s Eagles dominated Indy car racing, winning the Indy 500 three times (1968, ‘73, ‘75). He won the 1959 Sebring in only his second appearance and, in later years, Gurney’s Eagle MkIII GTP cars powered by Toyota won the last 17 races that they entered, including the 12 Hours of Sebring twice (1992, ‘93) and the 24 Hours of Daytona (1993). Gurney retired from driving in 1970 and today lives in Santa Ana, Calif., with his wife, Evi.
JIM HALL has attained a legendary status in motorsports for pioneering many aspects of racecar design that are taken for granted today, including the use of composites for chassis construction and the harnessing of aerodynamic downforce (the Chaparral 2J was the first “ground effects” racecar ever built.) But, he was also accomplished as a driver, campaigning Formula One in 1963 with Stirling Moss’ BRP team. Hall won the USRRC Championship in 1964 with the Chaparral 2 and repeated in 1965 (Unlimited Class), including a spectacular race against Bruce McLaren at Mosport. In 1966, Hall won the pole or set fastest lap at every Can-Am race he entered. Chaparral entered endurance racing full time in 1966, winning at the Nürburgring (Hill/Bonnier). Hall retired from driving in 1968 after a serious accident, and turned his attention to managing the Chaparral team in Formula 5000, winning three Championships with Brian Redman (1974, ‘75, and ‘76), and Indycar racing, winning the Indy 500 in 1978 (Al Unser) and 1980 (Johnny Rutherford). Jim Hall lives with his wife, Sandy, in Midland, Texas, and recently opened an exhibit there of his cars at the Petroleum Museum.
BRUCE JENNINGS was a well-known Towson, Md., Porsche driver in the USRRC when Jim Hall asked him if he would like to co-drive the second Chaparral at Sebring in 1965. He continued this relationship until 1967, driving the 2F Chaparral at Le Mans. During WWII, he was a crew chief of a B-17 stationed at Hendricks Field in Florida, later the site of the Sebring 12-hour race.
BOB JOHNSON was known for his ability to tame “big-bore” machines like Corvettes and Cobras. A Shelby Team driver in 1964 and ‘65, Johnson co-drove a Chaparral at Le Mans with Bruce Jennings in 1967.
DELMO JOHNSON was a Dallas, Texas, Chevrolet dealer and successful Corvette Grand Sport driver.
ED LESLIE emerged from amateur SCCA racing driving various sports and formula cars in Southern California races. He gained attention with his semi-factory Cobra and, after racing for Shelby in 1965, became one of the top Trans-Am racers, driving for Ford, Penske and Jim Hall. He was a major force behind the early success of the Laguna Seca race track.
KEN MILES was a displaced Brit who made a name for himself racing his modified “Flying Shingle” MG in 1950s Southern California road races. He went on to join Shelby American and made an enormous contribution to the success of the Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger and the Ford GT programs. In addition to the 1965 Daytona, Miles also co-drove the winning Ford GT at the 1966 Daytona and Sebring races, and missed winning that year’s Le Mans by 100 feet. He was killed testing the Ford J-car at Riverside in August, 1966.
TOM PAYNE sometimes called “Gentleman Tom Payne” for once driving a race in a suit and tie, was a member of the Shelby team in 1965, and a Ford dealer in Michigan. He passed away in December, 2005.
ROGER PENSKE is famous today for his unparalleled success as a car owner, but in the early 1960s he was well known for his driving. After being selected as Sports Illustrated’s “Driver of the Year” in 1961, he continued to race a variety of sports cars before business commitments forced him to retire at the end of the 1964 season. After managing the winning Chaparral team at Sebring in 1965, Penske went on to form his own race organization that has become one of the most successful in motorsports history, winning the Indianapolis 500 a record 12 times.
DAVID PIPER was one of the great racing characters of the era. Always a good driver with a great sense of humor, Piper had a long and storied career and is still often seen driving at important European historical meets, despite losing part of one leg in an accident while making the film Le Mans in 1970.
CARROLL SMITH literally wrote the book – or books – on racecar engineering. His six volumes have taught generations how to Prepare To Win based on his experience as Team Manager for Shelby American and others. After taking over the struggling Ford GT program at the end of 1964, Smith is credited as being the driving force behind Ford’s dominance of endurance racing in 1966 and ‘67.
WAYNE SPARLING was, for almost a quarter of a century, a Ferrari factory mechanic/metal fabricator and helped prepare Ferraris for Mario Andretti, Pedro Rodriguez, Sam Posey, Mike Parkes, Dan Gurney, and many others. He currently lives in South Florida where he collects and restores vintage Ferraris.
LEW SPENCER was a West Coast sports car fixture, running Lew Spencer High Performance Motors and racing a variety of cars, including Morgans, Devlins and Cobras. He was a member of the Shelby American team in 1965.
GEORGE WINTERSTEEN is known for being comedian Dick Smothers’ partner in Formula A/5000 racing in the late 1960s, but earlier he was a successful Corvette Grand Sport owner/driver.