Chuck Cantwell, the project engineer and GT350R test driver, he was the driving force behind the design and production of the street and track-attacking R model.
“The object of the GT350 program was to beat the Corvettes in SCCA racing,” Cantwell explained. “So we had to first get a car the SCCA would accept as a sports car.”
The R’s (some 34 production models were built in all) would go on to win the SCCA’s B Production title in 1965, 1966, and 1967.
As for Shelby, “Carroll didn’t get involved with things too much. He kept track of what we were doing, but he didn’t meddle,” Cantwell recalled. “He was a good person to work for in that regard.”
In 1968, Cantwell could see the end coming. With Ford taking over production of the cars and Shelby rapidly losing interest, it was time to move on to a new challenge. Cantwell eventually left Shelby American to work for Roger Penske as team manager for Trans-Am cars and general manager of the race shop. He later joined Mark Donohue’s Porsche 917/30 effort
2016 Muscle Car Review