LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — "Ford v Ferrari" was among the most nominated and talked about films at this year's Academy Awards. It's based on a true story about American driver and car-maker Carroll Shelby, who still has strong ties to Las Vegas. Some of the people who knew Shelby best are carrying on his legacy at Shelby American Inc., located just south of the Las Vegas Strip.
Long before the film was nominated for best picture, staffers have been telling Shelby's story at Shelby American.
"There’s a free tour that happens every day and there’s amazing cars, historical cars that are things you will never see anywhere else," said Tracey Smith, executive vice president of Shelby International.
Shelby first set up shop in Las Vegas at the Motor Speedway in the late 1980s, eventually moving the facility to 6405 Ensworth Street, just south of the Strip. More than 30 years after Carroll Shelby's arrival in Las Vegas, the current Shelby production plant is the only facility still manufacturing cars in the state of Nevada.
"Some of the same things that you can see in the movie, things like painting the vehicles at the last minute, making last minute modifications and changes just to get the job done and so forth, big brand, small company. We still do the same things today like we did in the 60s, but we do it on newer stuff," said Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American Inc.
Every day, guests can take a free tour of the plant and adjacent museum featuring dozens of classic cars, including a replica GT-40, the famous Ford that beat Ferrari at the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1966.
"What you can see here are the cars that you see in the movie, and you can also see cars that we build today and cars from the past that really have brought performance into America," said Smith.
Recently, the movie met the museum for some stunt driving and a special release of the DVD at the Shelby Heritage Center in Las Vegas. Everyone in attendance gathered to wish the movie well at the Academy Awards and to honor the legacy of a racing legend.
"When we would bring Carroll Shelby into the museum, we would ask ‘which car is your favorite?’ and he would always say 'the next one,'" said Patterson.
"What you see in the film is really who he was, a person that had passion and a person that believed in what he did. He changed the face of automotive history and we can still be a part of that today," said Smith.
By now, we know "Ford v Ferrari" won two Oscars, for best film editing and best sound editing. If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's available on demand and it will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 11.
If you want to visit Shelby American Inc. in Las Vegas, it's open seven days a week. Free guided tours are at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10:30am on Saturday. For more information, click this link to visit Shelby American Inc.'s website.