The Downside

Hazards of This Business

Larry Jewett - July 19, 2012 10:00 AM



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Being an editor of a monthly magazine does not qualify someone for hazardous duty pay, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hazards in this job. The biggest one is being irrelevant.

Due to elements involved in the entire production, imparting information sometimes becomes a slow process. It’s no secret that we as a society don’t communicate in the same manner as before. Our lives demand immediate information and the print publications of the world like magazines and newspapers can become an afterthought to some.

When that happens, we’re challenged to find the relevance for news. On May 10, sitting in this very chair, the harsh reality struck. I know something that the readers won’t see on these pages for almost two months and I won’t be the first one to tell them. They will have already known months before.

Carroll Shelby passed away at age 89 on that day. As the news spread, it’s safe to say that anyone with even a passing interest in cars knew about it by the end of the day on May 11. It even made network TV stations but absolutely dominated the Internet and social media sites.

While I can’t give the information to a world that already knows it, I can do two things with these pages. I can do a retrospective, a memorial, and you’ll find that later. I can also take a few minutes to reflect on the personal experiences. Those are not things you could have read anywhere else.

Mine are no different, no more special than anyone’s who came in contact with Carroll Hall Shelby. They are unique because they are mine and there’s a good chance many of you (who have your own unique experiences where I wasn’t present) weren’t there.

For me, seeing Carroll Shelby at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Palm Beach, Florida, will always be a special memory. He was going to ride in a Mustang onto the stage, being present while the car was auctioned off. I was asked to consider driving the car on the stage. Imagine driving Carroll Shelby! The honor eventually went to Ford’s Mark Fields (obvious choice), but I was there to help open the door for Shelby to get out of the car and wave to the crowd.

The best memory, though, came with a special invitation to a dinner and social gathering at the now-gone Shelby Café in Las Vegas. It was during the SEMA Show, so I happened to be in town. It was the first and only time my wife Michele accompanied me to SEMA. She had heard all about how big it is and how tiring it is and I always threatened to prove it to her. Well, that year, I did and I put her to work during the day. When we got the chance to go to the Shelby event, it made it more special for both of us.

Guy Fieri was cooking that night, another of her favorites. NFL quarterback Ken Stabler was going to be on hand. Bill DenBeste of DenBeste Motorsports, the location of largest inventory of Shelby products, was on hand with his private label wine. The room was filled with good times and all things Shelby, with many of the executives from Shelby American, Carroll Shelby Licensing and the Carroll Shelby Foundation in attendance. Carroll Shelby was a great host, there were no shortage of photo opportunities (the picture is from that night) and plenty of talk about the past and the present and the future.

But that talk of the future didn’t include May 10, 2012. I personally am happy about that because it doesn’t impact the memories I vividly recall from that night. Like millions of others who may or may not read these words, I will miss Carroll Shelby, the man and the legacy. I will be saddened by his passing for a long time, but I will be heartened by the work he did, the impact he had and the memories he gave me for a lot longer.