Ken Miles

Who was the person you worked with the most closely at Shelby’s and how did he contribute to your success?

Ken Miles made all the difference in the world in my success at Shelby’s.  First, when I started for Carroll and ran his driving school, I only had less than a dozen races under my belt. I hadn’t been back from GM Styling in Michigan too long before I hooked up with Carroll and he asked if I’d run his school. I wasn’t about to question my driving experience and turn down this amazing opportunity.

Shortly after I started, Ken Miles joined Shelby’s to do development and testing on the Cobras. All this was done at Riverside Raceway. Ken took me under his wing, teaching me the best race lines, corner control, etc. I succeeded as a teacher at the school thanks to Ken’s mentorship.  Then at the end of the ’63 season, Carroll asked how we could make the Cobra roadsters competitive against the Ferraris in Europe. Until that time he wasn’t aware of my design experience at GM. I was the youngest member on a team of very experienced racers, who knew nothing of my background.  I shared with Carroll my ideas of a radically shaped Coupe with a chopped off tail. These ideas were based on some arcane testing that had been done in Germany in the late ‘30s, but completely unknown in America.  Hardly anyone on the team wanted any part of my “crazy idea” because no one in America had done any serious proven aerodynamic study…at least on automobiles. The team thought my design for the Daytona Coupe was ugly beyond compare!  No one that is except Ken. He went to Carroll and supported the idea, saying he thought the “kid” was on to something.

Ken had raced in Europe and had seen some of the German experimental designs and shapes and understood my thinking. As we all know now, the Daytona Cobra Coupe decimated the once “unbeatable” Ferraris (as well as the Aston Martins, Jaguars and even the first iteration of Ford’s GT40s). It easily won the FIA GT World Championship in 1965. It never would have happened without Ken.