The iconic racer was presented the award in an impromptu ceremony where celebrities and friends came out to show their respect. Rufus Parnell Parnelli Jones, the race car driver known as much for his fierceness in competition as his iconic race cars, was honored on April 15, 2019 with the Carroll Shelby Spirit Award. The award was announced last month at the 2019 Shelby Bash; however, Parnelli was not in attendance for the event, so a special presentation was planned. Parnelli, the 1963 Indy 500 winner, was told that only Shelby representatives Tracey Smith, Vince Laviolette, Scott Black, and a HOT ROD photographer were going to be in attendance for the trophy reveal. Black recalls how the event was initially planned and why it changed when he said, Originally, we were just going to quietly bring you the award since you missed [the Bash], but word got out, and your fans said that is not acceptable. Everything Parnelli does is loud and proud, and audacious. Theres been nothing quiet in your life, so much more was required. A few secret guests were added to the event, and an impromptu ceremony was put together. The special guests included the First Lady of Motorsport and newly inducted Motorsport Hall of Fame member, Linda Vaughn; Ford Executive John Clinard who represented the Ford Motor Company; and Allen Grant, former Shelby race car driver, member of the 1965 Shelby FIA World Championship Team, and previous recipient of the Shelby Spirit Award all came to the event. The 2019 Shelby Spirit Award that was handcrafted by Sculptor Rick Hadley, it weighs 45 pounds. Parnelli sat behind his desk, as the event started. Vince Laviolette walked in carrying the heavy brass sculpture trophy of a 427 Cobra. Sculptor Rick Hadley hand cast the Cobra entirely out of bronze, and the plaque weighs 45 pounds. Behind Laviolette, trailed everyone else, and the surprise celebration was unveiled. Parnellis face lit up with a smile as he saw all the old friends that had come out to honor him and to celebrate this moment. Tracey Smith of Shelby American Inc. congratulates Parnelli Jones for embodying the spirit of the award. Black officiated the event leading off the ceremony with Tracey Smith of Shelby who spoke on the honor of Shelby American Inc. honoring the spirit of Parnelli Jones. Parnelli, it is such an honor to bestow this on you on behalf of Shelby International. You have been grace under fire, we are so proud of you, we are so proud of your accomplishments, you definitely represent all the things that are great about motorsports and as a human being, youre just a fabulous person, we are just so grateful to have you in our lives. Carroll, I know, adored you. You guys were great friends, and there have been several recipients of this award: Dan Gurney, Allen Grant who is here, Edsel Ford, and Bob Bondurant, so you are joining that list. Vince Laviolette speaks of Parnellis racing accomplishments and versatility. Vince Laviolette then spoke about Parnellis racing accomplishments and versatility, We just want to say thank you so much for all of your accomplishments. Youre a designer, youre a builder, you drove in every aspect of racing, and youve done so much for the world of racing, and its just an honor for us to give you a trophy like this. To just show our appreciation for what youve done for the industry, and we are very honored to be here and to be able to give this to you. Parnelli spoke about what the award meant to him and his friendship with Carroll Shelby when he said: What a nice piece, look at that gorgeous piece. Shelby was such a great friend of mine. Great admirer of mine, as well as all the great things that hes done. We had our ups and downs, [laughter]not bad. The fact that I was Firestone and he was Goodyear, so he left conversations a lot of time with his managers, Peyton Cramer and Al Dowd, but I enjoyed him. He called me up once in a while, and said Good Day, Ruffhe called me Ruff, lets have lunch. I have a picture on the wall of one time he showed up, and I just enjoyed my relationship with him, such a close friend, and somebody that meant so much to each of us at the time, and we miss him greatly. Allen Grant, former Spirit Award recipient shakes Parnellis hand in congratulations. Next up was Allen Grant who walked up to Parnellis desk, shook his hand and offered his congratulations. Being a previous Shelby Spirit Award winner, Grant told a story of a Shelby King Cobra that Parnelli drove and that he was slated to drive: Parnelli, Ive got to tell you, you were one of my heroes, and you just got a couple of years on me, and I just respected you so much. First Lady of Motorsports, Linda Vaughn speaks of her and Parnellis decades long friendship. Linda Vaughn spoke of her friendship with Parnelli that spanned decades, Parnelli Jones was one of the best, and always will bewe love you. I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed working with you. Weve known each other his whole career, so were just getting up there in age, but you know what its just like fine wine, he gets better all the time. John Clinard of Ford Motor Company honors Parnelli and brings well wishes from Edsel Ford and Jim Owens. John Clinard brought congratulations and well wishes from Ford Motor Company saying, Parnelli, I have to tell you on behalf of Ford Motor Company, Edsel Ford sends his best. I talked to Jim Owens on the way up here, and he said to say Hello. You have been the face of Ford Performance for manymany years. What you did in Trans Am- nothing surpasses that. Parnellis famous Bronco, recreated as a illuminated model, sits at the edge of his desk. Yep, and Baja, and things you did with Bill Stroppe it was just fantastic, says Clinard. Parnelli, points to his illuminated model of his iconic Bronco Big Oly that sits at the end of his desk and says You can see my Bronco there. Clinard finishes, The Bronco is coming back. Well probably have a Parnelli [edition]. Thank you for all that youve done. No one is more deserving than you. Many people who watched racing loved Parnelli, among them is IMSA champion and team owner Jim Busby who said,When you are one of the greats, you can read it in their eyes, and you can see it on a racetrack, and Parnelli has it. Hes a piece of work and one of the all-time greats. From left to right: John Clinard, Robin Grove, Allen Grant, Vince Laviolette, Parnelli Jones, Tracey Smith, Scott Black, Kenny Adams, Linda Vaughn, and Judy Kean. Parnelli Jones, the man who became a legend is the 2019 recipient of the Carroll Shelby Spirit Award, may we all rejoice and celebrate him. 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