Renowned author, VRJ contributor, race engineer and team manager for the Le Mans-winning Shelby GT40 program, Carroll Smith succumbed to pancreatic cancer on May 16th, he was 71.
Born in Oswego, New York in 1932, Smith started his driving career with the family tractor and later honed his skills driving horse transporters. After serving as a pilot in the Navy, Smith enrolled in the engineering program at the University of Rochester where he also got his first taste for sports car racing driving an MGTF in SCCA events. Smith’s skills behind the wheel eventually took him to Europe to compete in the ultra-competitive Formula Junior category, where he scored a stunning debut win at Cesenatico, Italy. However, with the birth of his son, Carroll elected to return home to the States to take up a “stable” job as a tire engineer for Goodyear.
As luck would have it, Carroll met another famous Carroll – Shelby that is – at an SCCA event at Lime Rock. Shelby would later offer him the chance to be the team manager for his latest assault on endurance racing with Ford – the GT40. This partnership of the “only two guys named Carroll” as Smith liked to joke, resulted in Shelby GT40s winning both the prestigious 24-Hours of Le Mans and Daytona.
After Ford withdrew from racing in 1968, Smith then went to work as the team manager for Tony Adamowicz’s Eagle F5000 effort, resulting in Adamowicz winning the 1969 championship. From there, Smith worked for a variety of teams and manufacturers as well as beginning his now famous series of Prepare to Win books.
Smith later spent a brief period of time in Australia working with an Australian touring car team before returning to the United States to work for Cal Wells and his highly successful desert off-road effort. In recent years, Smith had focused on engineering consulting work for everyone from the Ferrari Formula One team to various vintage racers and the Formula SAE program.
Submitted by Casey Annis