Buy The Winningest Shelby Ever
Image: RM Auctions
With seventeen straight wins from 1968 to 1969, driven by Charlie Kemp, this 450-horsepower 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 R is known as the ‘winningest’ Shelby ever. And you can buy it.
Only 33 Shelby GT350 Rs were purpose-built for racing, making them as rare as they are potent. This particular car was built in ’65 and taken into possession in 1966.
Its first owner, Roger West, won the SCCA Southeast Division Championship, but then started racing a GT40 and sold the Shelby in 1967.
Charlie Kemp put down the cash and bought the car late in ’67, along with a set of spares and the services of Pete Hood – the GT350 R’s mechanic. The first time they took the car out Charlie broke the lap record at Montgomery, Alabama, and blew up the motor as well.
Charlie and Pete then took to developing the car, extracting every last horsepower from the engine, throwing away any weight that wasn’t working to go faster, and tuning the suspension and handling to the nth degree.
They won the SCCA Regional at Daytona overall, took an overall victory in the Nationals and then the ’68, ’69 and ’79 Division Championships.
Along they way they won 17 straight races and set a new top speed record for GT350 Rs at riverside. At Daytona in ’69 they really stretched the car’s legs, hitting 184 miles power hour and going faster than not only any GT350 R had ever been before it, but any Shelby 289 at all.
“That record still staggers me—to move that brick through the air that fast. At first, we didn’t believe the timer” – Carroll Shelby
Charlie briefly sold the car, but bought it back and remains its owner today. In the 2000s he and Pete Hood restored it to full as-raced specification in its signature livery and it is one of a very rare group of cars which can offer the services of both its greatest driver and mechanic in preparing and looking after it today.
It’s painstakingly-documented, and its history, photographs and artifacts have been collated in an aluminum-covered book.
Images courtesy RM Auctions