Tribute to Carroll Shelby
Ernie Nagamatsu’s moving tribute to a wonderful friend; Carroll Shelby.
By Ernie Nagamatsu
If I could I would, gather my family one last time for a team meeting for they allowed me to dream my dreams and achieve more than I could have imagined as a young boy from Texas. I would thank them for a long race and special thanks to Michael for the extra laps.
If I could I would, I would run my hands along the beautiful green Aston Martin DBR/1 for it seemed to open the doors and set the stage for my future in motorsports with the wonderful win at Le Mans. I would have the pedal to the floor down the Mulsanne straight when it was straight… and always keep an eye on “Maison Blanc.”
If I could I would, start the engines again of the Maserati 250 F, Birdcage Maserati, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Cadillac and Buick, as it was like music to my ears and I loved them all and part of lessons learned along the way.
If I could I would, get into the Cobra CSX 2000 one last time at Dean Moon’s shop, for it was the fountainhead of so much more to come as it was a dream come true for me.
If I would I could, call a Shelby American Team meeting one last time to thank each and every one of the loyal crew from Phil on… as they believed in our vision and beliefs that we can deliver the goods in motorsports at all levels… and as a team we did. We did not go to races going for second place…
If I could I would, join in that card game once again as I never refused a Poker game coming from Texas… and little did Enzo know that I had an “Ace up my sleeve” as he thought I was just a “Chicken Farmer” from Texas.
If I could I would, I would turn on my 8 track one last time to hear…”Hey Little Cobra” and remind them all that…”You’re gonna shut’em down…”
If I could I would, call an early morning pre race drivers meeting, to thank all of the great dedicated drivers that gave their all racing for Shelby American… and once again a moment of silence for the great Ken Miles who I miss to this day.
If I could I would, go to Detroit one last time and call on Ford, Chrysler, GM, and Dodge for a “Company Meeting” to put one last proposal on the table as I loved automobile projects dearly.
If I could I would, go to all the chapters of Shelby related organizations to thank them for the support and passion for Shelby cars… and now they will be the “Keepers of the Flame” and I would serve them up a bowl of chili and give them a hug… and tell them all to be proud and tell them ‘Shel’ told you so.
If I could I would, ‘review the numbers,’ as I loved numbers… 289, 427, GT 350, GT-40 and each number was special.
If I could I would, get into one of my Daytona Coupes one last time and tour the tracks I loved dearly… Le Mans, Spa, Nurburgring, Reims, Sebring, Goodwood, and I would swoop off of the last banking turn at Riverside Raceway International Raceway to the front straight.
If I could I would, climb into my 289 Shelby ‘Comp’ Cobra one last time on the track and at every corner I would salute all of the faithful “Corner Workers” as they were always there from me in my races and they kept me safe in every race I raced.
If I could I would, hug every child that we had the opportunity to help in our Carroll Shelby Children’s Heart Foundation as it was closer to my heart than anyone could imagine… and they are the legacy of generous and caring hearts. I could never autograph enough and donate enough for “my kids.” For it was a generous donor that gave me some more laps in life that I will not forget.
If I could I would, race to the checkered flag one last time, and little did I realize that the big checkered flag unfurled high in the sky would touch the face of God…and he was flagging me home as well.
Ernie Nagamatsu CSX 2203
Carroll… Godspeed …and may the kind winds touch your face on your journey home and may the spirit of God cradle and protect you along the way… you will be in our hearts forever.
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