At the Carlisle Ford Nationals, I snuck past the masses awaiting to see what Shelby American would unveil. As eager fans began to swarm the outer limits of the car cloaked in black drapes, I pressed forward into the media circle. In a sea of black Shelby American polos, one person stood apart from the rest.
A lady donning a white wide-brimmed sun hat and simplistic attire, consisting of jeans, flats, and a white sweater, stood out from the rest. I figured it was yet another employee of the Shelby group, but my mind didn’t click to who it was. Thankfully, a mutual friend was able to introduce me to the standout. It was the Executive Vice President at Carroll Shelby International, Ms. Tracey Smith. While her persona is humble, her accomplishments are anything but.
Tracey is not only the Executive Vice President at Carroll Shelby International, she is also the International Director for Team Shelby. In this position, she has managed to create a legion of Shelby enthusiast that has 80,000 members worldwide. Her passion in life comes from creating a strong community and love for what Carroll Shelby would have been proud of, including acting as liaison between Shelby International and charity organizations.
Ford Muscle (FM): Can you tell us what your day to day responsibilities include?
Tracey Smith (TS): My job consists of cultivating the community and representing Shelby, including our work with Ford Motor Company and Shelby American. I have one of the best jobs in the world, because I get to go out and experience these events and see the passion for the brand. I work closely with Shelby clubs, talking with directors about upcoming shows, and seeing how Shelby International can help.
FM: A big aspect of Team Shelby is aimed at giving back to the local communities. Through this philanthropic quest, what are some charities that you have helped facilitate between local Shelby groups and the charities of their choice. Have you actively participated in the fundraising for these events, as well?
TS: I was the keynote speaker recently at an event for Kansas Mercy Hospital, where we raised $10,000. Through the Kansas City Air Show we donated that money to a local hospital in that area. I don’t do this all on my own though, this actually falls on our directors. Instead of micromanaging their desires, we help them where needed. Recently, in Los Angeles, we supported The Eli Home to help kids find a safe space. Also, last year, I somehow ended up in a demolition derby that raised money for a local charity.
FM: What are some things Team Shelby does that have the greatest impact on its own Shelby community?
TS: Team Shelby was founded in 2008 to be a reflection of Carroll Shelby’s fun-loving personality. That is why we have so many events worldwide that include motion. From poker runs and rallies to track days, our members like to enjoy their vehicles in motion. We do have static car shows and community dinners, but our emphasis is on the enjoyment of motoring.
Another key aspect is the charitable focus that members demonstrate. Many of the events include fundraisers for local charities, as well as activities designed to attract young people. That philosophy impacts far beyond the Shelby community.
FM: How does Shelby keep such a strong relationship with Ford?
TS: We work closely with Ford on nearly everything we do. Events and track tours are two major ones. We’re constantly in contact with them on what the latest car will be and what our community thinks of it. We integrate their input into Team Shelby as this overall marketing initiative for the company. I hate to call it that, because it’s also a community initiative, however, because of this initiative we can bring more people in to experience the brand.
To answer your question, we maintain this relationship with communication. We talk to Ford, Shelby directors, and then listen to our enthusiasts. Carroll wanted his legacy to be with Ford, so we continue to maintain communication. We even have employees who worked for Ford and Shelby at different times in their career, like Jim Owens.
Carroll always encouraged people to chase their passions. He reminded people to do something they loved or they would never be happy. Tracey Smith, Executive Vice President at Carroll Shelby International
FM: Speaking of different employment places, is it true that you worked at Hot Wheels?
TS: That’s actually how I came into Shelby! We inducted Carroll Shelby into the Hot Wheels Hall of Fame and then about a year later, here I was.
FM: Does this mean you have a few Super Treasure Hunts of your own?
TS: Even better, I have two Hot Wheels with my name on the license plates.
FM: So back on subject, where do you see Team Shelby going in the future?
TS: Even though we already have 80,000 members worldwide, the club continues to grow. We recently opened new regional chapters in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia, complete with volunteer directors and members. We will continue to grow this community by embracing everyone and not excluding anyone who shares our passion for performance.
FM: Are there any words of advice that Carroll Shelby gave you that stick with you to this day?
TS: Carroll always encouraged people to chase their passions. He reminded people to do something they loved or they would never be happy. That really resonates with me.
Every now and then, you will run into someone that embodies their job description. Instead of treating it as an occupation, they thrive off the drive to create something better. In this case, Smith has continued to provide great success to Shelby International and Team Shelby. Even outside of that she has had the ability to intertwine the multi-faceted Shelby enterprise that reaches from the business side to the owners and enthusiasts.