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Tony Shelly was born into the motor trade and continued in that profession throughout his life. Jack Shelly owned the Jaguar dealership in his native Wellington and expanded his business interests by opening another in Hawaii’s capital Honolulu during the 1950s.
Formula 1 privateer for a season
By that time, his son Tony had begun racing. His Cooper won at Teretonga in 1958 and Shelly forged a healthy reputation in Australasia. He travelled to England in 1962 for his only international season when driving John Dalton’s old Lotus 18-Climax in Formula 1 races. Fifth on his debut in the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton, the following week’s Easter Monday meeting at Goodwood was marred by the accident that ended Stirling Moss’s career.
That overshadowed the personable New Zealander’s performances – third in the Lavant Cup for four-cylinder F1 cars and sixth in the main Glover Trophy. Generally steady if unspectacular, Shelly made his world championship debut in the British Grand Prix but retired after just five laps. He also entered the German and Italian GPs (the latter in Wolfgang Seidel’s Lotus 24-BRM V8) although he failed to qualify for either race.
He returned home and won the 1963 Pukehohe Six Hours (New Zealand’s first endurance race) with Ray Archibald and a Jaguar 3.8. Shelly retired from racing a year later to build up the family business. He took United States citizenship in 1975 and divided his time between New Zealand and Hawaii where he successfully developed the family’s car dealerships.
Shelly was back in Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island when he lost his fight against cancer in 1998. In its tribute, the Hawaiian Star Bulletin described Shelly as "a class act, always a gentleman."