Racer’s Recipe for Remodel


Legendary racing guru CARROLL SHELBY, the Texas chili master and car builder, and his wife, Lena, are nearing completion on a major rehab of a Bel-Air home they bought last spring.

Shelby, 71, had leased the house for a dozen years before its previous owner decided to sell. “Our actual residence is in Texas, but we spend time in California, because I had my heart transplant out here,” he said. He had two heart bypasses before his transplant in 1990.

A Le Mans winner who also raced Formula One cars, Shelby came to California in 1960 to open the country’s first race-car driving school. Later, he built the Cobra, the most famous performance automobile in American motoring’s 100-year history.


Since his transplant, he designed and built a race car for amateurs and got married for the fourth time. He sold his chili company but holds chili cook-offs for charity through his International Chili Society, and he is assembling a limited number of Cobras at his Gardena plant amid controversy over whether or not the parts are original or newly made.

“I sell these 427 Cobras and donate a large part of the money I get for them to my Heart Fund,” Shelby said. His Heart Fund, based in West Los Angeles with a branch that just opened in England, benefits indigent children with cardiac problems requiring surgery.

Shelby’s Bel-Air house was built in the 1960s to have four bedrooms in about 2,600 square feet. Shelby is updating the home and adding 1,200 square feet, including a maid’s quarters and 35-foot-long gallery. An old church pew will be used as a bar.

“They wanted a tailored but rustic, cowboy chic look,” said architect Robert Anderson of Hancock Park. “We’re bringing over some old but wonderful wooden pieces from a barn on their ranch in Texas.”

Their Bel-Air house--which has what Lena Shelby describes as “fabulous city and mountain views”--was purchased for $850,000, records show. Another $300,000 is being spent on refurbishing.

SUSAN CLARK, who played Jim Stolpa’s mother in the January CBS movie “Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story,” and Clark’s husband, gridiron star-turned-actor ALEX KARRAS, have listed their Lake Arrowhead home again.


The house, which had been for sale in 1991 at $795,000, is now priced at $699,000 with Vee Ward at Century 21 High Country in Lake Arrowhead.

Built in 1953, the house was being remodeled in 1991 when it was first put on the market. The 2,800-square-foot home has four bedrooms, including a master suite with its own deck, two walk-in closets, a river-rock fireplace and spa tub. The house is a short walk to the lake.

Karras, one of the greatest players in Detroit Lion history, who later starred with Clark in “Babe” (the Babe Didrikson Zaharias story) and the 1980s sitcom “Webster,” had planned to use the Arrowhead home as a getaway, but he discovered soon after buying the property that he’s allergic to the pines.

He and Clark recently completed building a weekend home in Malibu and maintain their longtime residence off of Mulholland Drive.

The former home of THOMAS SPIEGEL, the deposed thrift executive charged with looting millions of dollars from failed Columbia Savings & Loan in Beverly Hills, has been sold for nearly its last asking price of $4.1 million to a businessman from Hong Kong, sources say.

The house was on the market in 1991, when Spiegel still owned it, at $9.8 million. It was taken over by the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency charged with disposing of failed thrifts’ assets. Spiegel defaulted on his mortgage last May and moved from the house Nov. 1.


Using a sealed-bid process, the RTC received 15 offers on the 11,000-square-foot home, built about eight years ago. The gated estate has six bedrooms, including two staff quarters; a guest house with two baths; a tennis court and three-car garage, with space for a limo.

Marc Vara and Brad Kimball shared the listing. Both are with Fred Sands’ Brentwood office.

Fashion photographer TODD SMITH and his wife, author MELANIE KIRSCH, who wrote such books as “How to Get Off the Fast Track and Live the Life that Money Can’t Buy,” have sold their Hollywood Hills home and bought a farm in Rhinelander, Wis.

The couple left town two years ago but rented out their three-bedroom Hollywood home until selling it for nearly their last asking price of $499,000. The southwestern-style house--which Smith built with a circular, two-story living room--was priced at $729,000 six months ago.

The buyers were identified as producer David Salzberg and his wife, Karen Kim, a Raiders cheerleader. Tony Shultz of Fred Sands, Hollywood Hills, had the listing, and Tom O’Rourke of Jon Douglas Co., Sunset Strip, represented the buyers.