Auto Legend Carroll Shelby The Chili Community Mourns Death of a Legend

5/12/2012 8:45 AM PDT

The late Carroll Shelby didn't just invent one of the coolest sports cars ever ... he also INVENTED THE WORLD CHILI COOKOFF ... and TMZ has learned the chili community is planning a memorial to honor their spicy savory king.

TMZ spoke with Ed Blair -- President of the Chili Appreciation Society International -- who tells us Shelby will be honored at the Terlingua International Chili Championship (think Super Bowl of chili).

According to Blair, Shelby's image will be featured on a memorial board ... along with other chili legends who died in the past year.

89-year-old Shelby passed away on Friday ... it's unclear if chili consumption played a role in his death.