Joe Sheppard - 'The Tampa Hot Shoe'
Posted 02 February 2008 - 02:51
Joe Sheppard is one of the names you might see in old race results, but only his contemporaries will tell you how good a racer he was. In his heyday Joe was as well known for his modesty and graciousness as for his smoothness and shear speed. His nickname as the Tampa Hot Shoe was partly from local pride but also because it amused others when Joe would deny it. Recently Joe's photo album and scrapbooks have been digitized by his friend Don Yates, and so begins what will hopefully be an interesting new thread.
In this photo we see the shiny new Lotus Mk 9 that Joe Sheppard and Warren Smith planned to drive in the 1956 Sebring 12-Hour race. The car was entered by Joe's father, Jack Sheppard Sr., who owned a 'foreign car' dealership and repair service in Tampa Florida called Import Motors. Joe had read about the Mk 9 in magazines and says his father "just picked up the phone and called Colin Chapman in England." Jack Sheppard asked Chapman, "Can you sell us a car?" And of course Chapman was happy to oblige.
This photo was possibly taken when the car was waiting for tech inspection. Already something had bent the bonnet but it was otherwise pristeen. Warren Smith, standing at the side, was a Major in the US Air Force and normally busy flying a B-47. Joe considered him "a fast driver and a wild man." But some pre-race publicity scuttled the drive for him. The day before the race the Tampa Tribune published another photo and announced the pair would drive this car at Sebring. However, Smith's superiors at McDill Air Force base read the same paper and immediately ordered him out of that car. So Import Motors faced a 12-hour race with only one driver.
The same day Colin Chapman watch in horror as the burned wreckage of the debut Lotus Eleven was hauled back into the Sebring paddock. He had traveled a long way to drive this new car (its story is told elsewhere) but now he had none. Inevitably the Sheppards' and Chapman got to talking and ACBC joined the team as Joe's co-driver.
The Mk 9 raced in class G, for cars up to 1100cc, and with Joe starting it soon took the class lead. He and Chapman alternated with one-hour stints, gradually building a four lap lead in the class after four hours. Then, at a pit stop the car refused to re-start. "It just locked up" Joe said later. "The bushings had vibrated out of each end of the starter. I had never heard of this happening, but it did. So we jacked up the back end and started it by spinning the wheel." Unfortunately this was judged as an illegal start by the officials and the car was disqualified, sending Chapman into a tirade. It had been one of those weekends. But over the next few years Chapman and Joe Sheppard would have much better ones.
Welcome to TNF, Joe. And to everyone else, come and have a look into Joe's scrapbook.
Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:16
Joe Sheppard and Warren Smith with the Mk9 Lotus.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection.
Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 January 2012 - 15:43.
Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:23
Here is the Mk 9 upon arrival at Import Motors.
This is how the Mk 9 Lotus looked when the guys at Import Motors first unwrapped it. Joe Sheppard is working at the tonneau cover, Warren Smith is at left.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection- all research Jay Sloane
Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:46
Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:50
This is the photo that appeared in the Tampa Tribune that got Warren Smith in hot water.
Warren Smith in the Lotus Mk9
photos lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Jay Sloane
Posted 02 February 2008 - 04:14
Front view of the Mk 9 Lotus.
Rear suspension and brakes of the Mk 9.
The Import Motors group was fascinated with this alien space ship of a car, and probably had never seen suspension or brakes like this before. Pretty strange stuff for any era.
photos lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Jay Sloane.
Posted 02 February 2008 - 22:19
I will only say that you have seen nothing yet and " Hold on to your hats" as they say. Before this Jay Sloane had written a very good article on Joe Sheppard for the North American Lotus Eleven Register and I would like the forum members to take a look at it here:
Posted 03 February 2008 - 00:30
Joe remembers an interesting comment Colin Chapman made to him about that time, probably in response to a complaint about the Mk 9's handling. Chapman said that the swing-axle front suspension "was no good at over 100 mph." This was on the same weekend that Eleven #155 flipped and burned in practice and ACBC ended up sharing a ride with Joe. The Eleven had a slightly lower roll center in its swing-axle, as well as countless other improvements. But the weakness in the design was nevertheless on Chapman's mind, and later in the year the Mk 12 would debut with a modern wishbone setup.
Besides driving the Eleven in its competition debut, Chapman was in America to search for a master distributor for his cars. Lotus had promised several people here distributorships, including Ken Miles in California, Gunnard Rubini in Ohio, and even Tony Pompeo in New York -- a very spooky proposition. He asked the Sheppards too, telling them that they "better do something, or this man Jay Chamberlain will be the distributor for the whole United States." But Jack Sheppard didn't trust Chapman very much and turned the offer down. They did take the opportunity to order a new car, an Eleven, and waited patiently for it to arrive.
The Mk 9 meanwhile raced where it could, and the article mentioned above relates the gruesome details. It is still a mystery which Mk 9 there's was.
I greatly appreciate Jerry Entin posting big photos to liven things up. Let's continue with a few of Joe's first Lotus Eleven.
Posted 03 February 2008 - 03:56
Joe Sheppard in his first Lotus Eleven
This is Joe in Eleven #240, in the Fall of 1956. This car was all business, and unlike the Mk 9 Joe was confident he could win races with it. Here he is on a shakedown run early on, carrying the number 25, and a big mirror from a road car. Joe's biggest weekend with it was at the Enoche races held at the Gainesville Georgia airport track in October. In the race for cars under 1500cc, Sheppard led from the start and lapped all but one car -- this in a 15 lap event ! In the final Sheppard worked the Lotus through the field, picking off Arnolt-Bristols, Jags and a Ferrari . But the car dropped out with gearbox failure while in the lead. Published reports had a big photo of this car leading the race, calling him "Jumpin Joe Sheppard."
In 1956 racing an Eleven usually meant winning races when you could keep them running.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Jay Sloane.
Posted 03 February 2008 - 03:59
Joe Sheppard in his Lotus Eleven now with stripes across the front.
Same driver, same car, but now with tiny mirrors and some stripes and paint on the bonnet. Joe raced this Eleven into 1957, and this is probably also the car he drove at the Nassau races in December of '56.
At Nassau Joe was surprised to see Jay Chamberlain running much faster in another Eleven. Curiosity got the better of him and before the weekend was over he had taken a look inside Chamberlain's bonnet. Jay was running Weber carburetors to Joe's SUs. Chamberlain's Nassau car was the one Road & Track tested (but not the one photographed) in its March 1957 road test. It gave them an "honest timed top speed of 132 mph, plus acceleration from a standstill to 100 mph in 22 seconds." R&T said this test "brings forth some of the most startling performance data ever published."
It had startled Joe too.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Jay Sloane
Posted 04 February 2008 - 21:03
Publicity shot taken of the 1957 Sebring entries by Team Lotus
This Lotus publicity shot is of the four cars prepared for the 1957 Sebring race, lined-up at an attractive spot in London. These cars were all headed for Tampa, where Team Lotus would set-up shop at Import Motors and use it as a base for its Sebring effort.
The four cars were all pre-sold, or at least Chapman expected payment upon delivery. The first, 9 EHX chassis #274, was bought by Team Puerto Rico, to be driven by Victor Merino,Luis Pedrerra, and Rafi Rosales. The second, XAR 11 chassis 275, was painted in USA racing colors and purchased by Charles Moran, an SCCA official and later head of ACCUS. Lotus insisted that Moran take on Doc Wyllie as co-driver to give this entry a fighting chance at being competitive. The next car, XJH 902 chassis #276 was paid for by the Sheppard's, and this time the plan from the start was for Joe and Colin to race it. The last car, DEC 494 chassis #278 was consigned to Jay Chamberlain, who would drive it with fellow West-coast star Ignacio Lozano. Each of the buyers heard Chapman's famous words, "Before the race it's a factory car. After the race it's yours."
Clearly, Jack Sheppard had done a lot of organization with Chapman to work out the logistics. A week after the cars were on a boat, Chapman and several team mechanics made the trip by air. In March, 1957, Import Motors essentially became Team Lotus.
Photo courtesy of Pat Dennis all research Jay Sloane
Further research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 04 February 2008 - 21:07
When the ship with the four cars docked in Jacksonville, Florida, Joe Sheppard and a half-dozen of his friends were waiting. A reporter and a photographer were also standing by. One by one the Sebring Lotus Elevens were lifted out of the cargo hold. These were built specially for the endurance race, not only with extra brake cooling ducts and long-range fuel tanks, but with extra straps for bonnet & tail sections, illumination for the roundels, hoods (convertible tops) and even tiny luggage compartments to satisfy the regulations.
Photo courtesy of Brett Johnson- all research Jay Sloane
Posted 04 February 2008 - 21:24
There were also crate after crate of spares to be unloaded and the Sheppard group opened each one and transferred the parts into their pick-up trucks and station wagons. Each of the Elevens was pushed onto small trailers and finally the convoy of enthusiasts hauling their exotic cargo headed back across the state to Tampa, over 200 miles away.
Notice the Nash Metropolitans that were also off loaded in this shipment. The Austin A50 Cambridge engine was used in the Metropolitans in 1957. They were installed in England for Nash.
Photo courtesy of Brett Johnson-all research Jay Sloane
Posted 05 February 2008 - 00:19
Your post #3 shows a stack of Pepsi bottles in their crates. There was a time when no workshop was complete without several of those empty wooden crates on hand: they made great work stools and, depending on how you oriented them, could be used as a low, medium or high seat for your backside.
If I had a dime for every hour I spent happily working on the 23 while seated on one of those crates, I could retire tomorrow!
Posted 05 February 2008 - 01:36
Posted 06 February 2008 - 15:54
In 1957 there were only only two international auto races in the USA. One was the 500 miler held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the other was the 12-Hours of Sebring, held at a seldom-used airfield outside the small Florida town. This is the track map from when Joe was there.
Those interested in Joe's recollections of that weekend in March, 1957 should check the article via the link in post #8.
This photo, taken of Joe at turn 4 (the Webster Turn) by Claude Haycraft, highlights another modification made for Sebring. At tech inspection Colin Chapman was informed that the four Lotus Elevens were too low around the cockpit. After the rule was explained to him, Colin quickly came up with a solution. Small alloy trim pieces were inserted at the outer ends of the windscreen, and two more trim pieces were riveted to the bodywork alongside the seatback. The cockpit now met the minimum height rules ! By race day the trim was painted and looked somehow appropriate. As Joe recalls, Chapman hated charades like this.
Joe was later complimented by the photographers stationed at turn 4, who told him he hit his marks every lap and was so consistent they had great opportunities to get the photos they wanted. One of them was Tom Burnside, whose very stylish photo of Joe appears on page 214 of "American Racing."
This car finished 1st in class and 11th overall, with Chapman and Joe driving equal time. Joe had the faster lap of the two, although he typically brushes it off as possibly a timing error. The reserve driver, Dick Dungan, never took a lap in the race although he's listed in the official result.
The other Team Lotus cars didn't fare so well. This one ran out of fuel and had to be pushed by Charles Moran. When he grew exhausted, co-driver Doc Wyllie (pictured) ran out and took over to finish pushing it into the pits. This was considered either an illegal driver change or an illegal assist, and the pair got the big D-Q.
Autosport published a photo of the Chapman / Sheppard car, with ACBC driving. If anyone has any more photos of the Lotus Elevens at Sebring, this would be a great place to share them.
Photo of XAR 11 courtesy of Brett Johnson. All other photos from the Joe Sheppard collection.
Posted 06 February 2008 - 19:14
Keen observers of these things might think this photo is out of sequence, but this well-known publicity shot of Team Lotus for the 1956 LeMans race is in the correct order for Joe Sheppard. When Colin Chapman visited them prior to Sebring, he showed this photo to Jack Sheppard. The car in the center (which was also registered XJH 902 like their Sebring car) was available for sale. So early in 1957 Import Motors bought the ex-LeMans class winning car of Bicknell & Jopp and had it shipped to Florida.
This car soon became Joe's favorite Lotus Eleven and he raced it for the remainder of the season. In May the car won the overall in the Gainesville Enoche races. The article above is from his overall victory in Ft. Pierce in June. Several more photos of this car appear in SCCA SportsCar magazine, including one with him passing Lonnie Rix. Other articles refer to it as the LeMans Lotus.
Photo and article from the Joe Sheppard collection.
Posted 06 February 2008 - 19:23
This sequence of Joe in the ex-LeMans Eleven was taken during the SCCA National at Miami on January 12, 1958. The race was called the Orange Bowl. It shows Joe passing Jim Johnston in the #115 Ferrari 625TR. In the first photo he is setting him up,
and in the second he makes the pass.
Photos from the Joe Sheppard collection. All research, Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 06 February 2008 - 23:21
Maserati 200SI Joe Sheppard and Gay Jackson.
After consecutive wins with his Eleven in rapid succession [Gainesville on May 26, 1957, Fort Pierce on June 2, 1957 and St Simons Island's prelim on June 15, 1957], the St Simons Feature had an unpleasant surprise in store. While leading by midrace Joe's Eleven threw a rod and he was forced to retire.
The Sheppard Eleven would be out of commission for quite some time, but a very different ride would present itself to the Tampa Hotshoe three months later. Here it is the Maserati 200SI owned by Gay Jackson.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection- all research Willem Oosthoek
Posted 07 February 2008 - 10:54
do you know the color and chassis number of the Maserati 200SI? Thanks.
Posted 07 February 2008 - 15:20
A happy winner of New Smyrna's Paul Whiteman Trophy. Starter Jesse Coleman on the left, with Jack Sheppard reaching into the car. Owner Gay Jackson in the middle and Race Official Dick Dungan on the right.
Gay Jackson ran a furniture business from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and he bought his red 200SI Maserati via the Hall-Shelby agency in Dallas. Sheppard first race in the car came at Fort Pierce again, for the September 29, 1957 Regionals.
This time the field at St. Lucie County Airport was much better, with 92 entries instead of the 48 in June. During practice Sheppard's 200SI qualified 4th fastest with a time of 2:21, behind George Koehne's 200SI [2:19.5], Eddie Crawford's 500RS [2:20] and E.D. Martin's Monza Ferrari [2:20]. The Fort Pierce News Tribune claimed that both Koehne and Sheppard were new to their 2-liter Maseratis and that Crawford's 550RS Porsche was a brand new car, doing a practice run for Nassau.In the 15-lap Prelim Sheppard scored the fastest lap of the weekend, with 2:05.2, although he had to settle for 3rd overall behind Crawford and Koehne. It must have been a heck of a battle.
During the 30-lap feature it started to rain. During the Le Mans start J.J. Packo's Eleven was struck by three other cars while trying to get around a stalled competitor. Considerable damage was done to Packo's $4,500 car, which was retired. Numerous spin-outs followed during the feature, but rain driver Crawford proved invincible under these conditions. Sheppard finished 2nd overall, followed by Koehne who damaged a front fender of his 200SI.
After racing his refurbished Eleven to 10th [Prelim] and 9th overall [Feature] in the Jan 12 National at Miami's Master Field, Joe was back in the Maserati at New Smyrna on the weekend of February 15-16, 1958. Competition consisted of E.D. Martin's 3.5-liter Monza, Lucky Casner's 500TR, Ed Rahal's Chevy-engined Arnolt and Roy Schechter's Eleven. The report in the SCCA magazine mentioned how "the winner of the main was Joe Sheppard, who taught many of us a lesson in fine piloting. He made it apparent that the mark of the truly accomplished driver is the ability to pace himself to the competition." Other compliments went to Roy Schechter: "excellent driving kept Schechter in contention for 2nd overall until a rather brutal collision in the late minutes of the race eliminated his machine, letting Casner's Testa Rossa into 2nd spot."
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Willem Oosthoek
Posted 07 February 2008 - 19:59
Joe Sheppard's 550RS Porsche chasing the D-types of ED Rahal and C.K. Thompson at Gainesville.
Gay Jackson entered his Maserati 200SI again for Joe Sheppard at Boca Raton, the weekend of March 8-9, 1958. The year before Jack Ensley had taken Jackson's D-type to victory at Boca, so the owner had high hopes to repeat his victory. Unfortunately, the Maserati -- after Sheppard turned some very fast laps during practice -- had to be retired with connecting rod problems and was loaded back on the transporter before the first race started.
Sheppard reappeared on the tracks some months later, this time with a Porsche 550RS bought by his dad. The venue was The Enoche at Gainesville near Atlanta on June 8, 1958. Sheppard had won the previous two Gainesville Features for the Cherokee Medallist, but this time he was outgunned by a couple of big modifieds.
E.D. Martin and his 3.8-liter Ferrari 315S blew everybody away on Saturday and Sunday. Sheppard put up a fight with the D-types of Ed Rahal and C.K. Thompson, but had to be content with 4th overall on Saturday and 6th overall in Sunday's Feature [due to brake problems after running 4th].
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek-scanned for site by the Lovely Laurie.
Posted 07 February 2008 - 20:40
Joe Sheppard dives inside Ed Rahal's D-type at Cocoa-Titusville, Fl
Rewind: Great posting, thank you so much.
The usual crowd gathered for the Cocoa-Titusville Regional on the weekend of July 19-20, 1958. Sheppard's 550RS Porsche took the 12-lap Prelim on Saturday, beating Ed Rahal's D-type and Roy Schechter's 550RS Porsche. Ed Rahal led the 30-lap Feature when he went wide. Joe Sheppard took advantage but a few laps later Rahal repassed him in front of the pits. The D-type driver gave Joe Sheppard a good-humored bye-bye waive and went on the win, with Joe Sheppard 2nd overall. Car owner Jack Sheppard saw the gesture and blew his stack. According to Ed Rahal, Jack --a tough former dirt track racer himself -- never spoke to him again, although the two drivers remained on excellent terms.
Photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek
scanned for site by the extremely lovely Laurie.
Posted 07 February 2008 - 23:14
A view of the action at New Smyrna. Sheppard's car is the red #2.
The original is a hand-colored, poster-sized photo by Fran Lilley, whose husband Lee was driving the yellow #99, the TAMSCO Special .
Photo courtesy of Lee Lilley, another friend of Joe Sheppard.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 18:24
Joe Sheppard's German mechanic Fritz Schiedel unloading the Porsche 550RS
This is at the Venice Florida Airport, for the Sam Collier Memorial 6 Hours on October 12, 1958. Joe Sheppard drove solo to win the event after passing the 550RS of Roy Schechter and Lou Rappoport in the final hour. Joe's Porsche was red with a white nose. This Porsche was originally owned by Jean Behra.
photo lent site Joe Sheppard collection-all research Willem Oosthoek
Further research Jay Sloane
Posted 08 February 2008 - 18:25
The Sheppard transporter, with mechanic Fritz Schiedel at the wheel.
Joe Sheppard and his dad Jack are with the 550RS Porsche.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 18:50
This article helps explain what made the team so successful with this car. Joe Sheppard said that Fritz Schiedel had told him that a Porsche had been built specially for Jean Behra. This was the car Import Motors negotiated to buy and it is the one in the above photos.
Thanks to the services of Fritz Schiedel, Joe's 550RS Porsche became highly successful in 1959. Overall victories were scored at:
- New Smyrna Beach [Feb 28]
- Master Field, Miami [May 31]
- Fernandina Beach [Jun 14]
In August Joe Sheppard received an invitation to race the 550RS Porsche in the Alamar 4 Hours, Fidel Castro's first endeavor into sportscar racing. The race was held near Havana on September 6, 1959, and with brother John Sheppard as his co-driver, Joe claimed another overall win. For some obscure reason the organzers had John Sheppard down as Bob Sheppard!
all research Willem Oosthoek.
Further reseach Jay Sloane.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 19:16
Posted 08 February 2008 - 19:32
A bit of trivia on Porsche RSK's is that the first RSK in the U.S. appeared in the October 1958 Times GP, raced by Jean Behra. So Sheppard's Porsche as raced at Gainesville must have been a 550RS.
all research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 20:09
Joe Sheppard's Sebring ride in 1959 the #17 Aston Martin Coupe.
In between his Porsche 550RS successes in 1959, Joe Sheppard appeared with an entirely different car in the March 1959 Sebring 12 Hours. He entered a private 3-liter Aston Martin DB Mk 3 GT car, with fellow Tampa driver Duncan Forlong as his co-pilot. The Coupe carried #17.
Lined up next to Roy Salvadori's Aston Martin DBR1 #1 at the head of the field, thanks to his car's engine size, Sheppard can be seen squeezing into the cockpit at the start. Ivor Bueb, Walt Hansgen and Briggs Cunningham are jumping in their Lister/Jags [#2, 3 and 4]. Next are Dan Gurney, Olivier Gendebien, Jean Behra and Pedro Rodriguez in their Testa Rossas.
Sheppard's mount lasted only 11 laps due to engine woes. He was the first DNF of the race. Completing only 32 laps, Roy Salvadori's Aston did not last much longer.
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 20:44
Posted 08 February 2008 - 21:23
- the car shown in posts 28 and 29, if indeed the same car on both photos, would be a 550A (upright headlamps like the plain 550, but air intacts on rear wings)
- the car shown at Gainesville behind the two Jags seems to have RSK style headlamps.
So maybe Sheppard used another 550 or 550A with a modified front end before he had the "Behra 550A", or maybe the photo at Gainesville is not from 1958, or maybe I am missing something.
Posted 08 February 2008 - 21:56
Posted 08 February 2008 - 23:28
ERault: Unfortunately the Gainesville photo of Sheppard's is not very clear. We agree that the headlights seem to suggest RSK-type design, but it may be just the light playing tricks. The photo came from the Ed Rahal collection. Ed Rahal identified place and date, remembering the race-long dice he had with C.K.Thompson and Joe Sheppard at Gainesville that day, both in the Prelim and the Feature. Apart from the color scheme, another difference with later photos is the full-width windshield on the 550RS Porsche at Gainesville.
all research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 09 February 2008 - 00:18
Carroll Shelby looks pleased with his new Birdcage Maserati.
In the background the Camoradi Carrera #72 assigned to Joe Sheppard
The 1960 season started successfully for Joe, with a victory at Dunnellon, Florida, on Jan 17 aboard his new RSK. Then Sebring came along in March. Both Joe and brother Jack raced Saabs in the 4 Hours for smaller GT cars, without much success.
In the 12 Hours Joe was part of the Camoradi team, sharing a former Behra Porsche Carrera with Dick Dungan. They finished 9th overall, 1st in class, with 177 laps to their name. This was 20 more than the next Camoradi entry, a Corvette, while the second team Corvette finished even farther behind. Shelby never got the wheel, since teammate Gregory retired their Birdcage after 3 laps. The Moss/Gurney Birdcage retired after 8 hours while in the lead.
Camoradi co-founder Fred Gamble called the Porsche finish "a fabulous achievement and the best showing of the whole team. In hindsight, if we had Sheppard and Dungan in our lead Maserati instead of Moss and Gurney fighting each other for fastest lap, we probably would have won in a walk." Perhaps a stretch, but the words reflect how highly Joe was thought of. Joe was more down to earth when asked about his Camoradi Porsche ride: " That car was so slow there was no way we could have broken down."
Dick Dungan was considered a real fireball by some of his competitors, and on his day was very fast.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection.
Further research Jay Sloane
Posted 09 February 2008 - 00:46
Another interesting aspect to this thread is that it documents the significant amount of motorsports that was going on in the Southeast, besides Sebring. I must admit that I knew of the SAC races at McDill, Pensacola and others, but I had no idea of many of these other races. Thank all of you for preserving these times for all of us.
Posted 09 February 2008 - 00:52
An enclosed transporter in the late fifties meant you were a Real Pro. SCCA amateur "weekend warriors" like myself were still using inexpensive open 2-wheel trailers well into the mid-sixties. (Mine was a former boat trailer which still had a slot cutout for the keel! Towed behind my reliable-but-underpowered VW bus, the rig was considered pretty much the norm back then.)
Posted 09 February 2008 - 03:30
This article, from the Tampa Tribune early in 1961, is the only trace left of something that never happened. A shadow of a phantom. Never mind the typos and the date errors, the gist of the story is that Jack Sheppard tried to arrange -- through CAMORADI -- for Joe to drive a 2-litre Lotus Elite in the Sebring event. What was going on here?
The evil handling FPF-powered Elite was a footnote in the build-up for the 1960 LeMans race. But after Innes Ireland walked away from the car no one else seemed to want to go near it, and the car went into limbo. So what happened to make Jack pursue this idea? Had Lotus called their old customer and offered it up for sale? Or had Lee Lilley, CAMORADI chief mechanic and occasional driver, seen the car at LeMans and brought this possibility back to Florida with him?
The 1961 Sebring race was a bad one for CAMORADI, and neither Joe nor Lee Lilley drove in it that year. But both men might be thankful for this missed opportunity. They've both lived long lives without the 2-litre Elite.
Posted 09 February 2008 - 16:51
This is the 2-Liter Lotus Elite - Specs: 1,962cc Climax 4 cylinder engine, putting out around 178 horsepower.
If only one 2-liter Lotus Elite ever existed, this must have been the car that Joe Sheppard and Lee Lilley planned to race at Sebring in 1961. This photo was taken during Le Mans scrutineering in 1960.
It was entered by Team Lotus for Ireland/Whitmore, but withdrawn after wheel assembly problems with the second works entry, a 1.3 liter Elite assigned to Sieff.
If the car ever came to the U.S. one wonders what became of it.
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 09 February 2008 - 17:02
Joe Sheppard leaving the pits at Miami with a new rear tire.
After his 9th overall finish for Camoradi in the 1960 Sebring 12 Hours, Joe Sheppard continued racing his red RSK Porsche for the rest of the season. He scored the following overall victories:
- Savannah Inaugural, Georgia [Jun 11]
- Kissimmee Inaugural, Florida [Oct 9]
- Savannah Geechee Prix [Nov 6]
By 1961 Joe had switched back to a 550RS Porsche, described in race reports as grey. After braking a camshaft at Kissimmee on January 21, he came back strong in the Miami 3 Hours at Master Field on April 16.
Chuck Cassel's RS-61 led from the start, but by the time he made his mandatory pit stop, Sheppard had wrestled first place from him. But before he could make his own stop, Joe blew a left rear tire on the back straight and lost valuable time. With one hour to go, he drove a flat-out race trying to catch Cassel. It finally happened when the RS-61 retired with a locked differential. By then Joe Sheppard had no brakes left, an inner tube could be seen through his left rear tire again and he had even worn a hole in the bottom of his racing boots. He took the checkered after 102 laps, three laps ahead of second-place Bob Kingham in a D-type Jaguar. It would be Joe's last overall victory.
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 09 February 2008 - 20:41
Joe Sheppard Victorious acknowledging the checkered at Miami on April 16, 1961
Kingham's D-type can be seen in the distance, but he was three laps down. Master Field was boycotted by a number of the big iron drivers because of its abrasive surface. Absentee Art Huttinger with his Lister/Chevy claimed that in a previous Master Field race he had to spend $1,000 on tires alone. Many Corvette drivers followed his example. Even a light car such as Sheppard's Porsche could not escape the tire wear.
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek
Posted 10 February 2008 - 18:46
Joe Sheppard's 1962 Sebring mount was this Sunbeam Alpine.
Joe Sheppard co-drove the Sunbeam with Tom Payne and Lew Spencer. It was an official Rootes entry. They finished 32nd overall with 151 laps to their name, which indicates trouble somewhere along the way during the 12 Hours.
all research Willem Oosthoek
photo lent site Dave Nicholas- www.barcboys.com
Posted 10 February 2008 - 20:04
Trying to solve the mystery about how many Porsches Joe Sheppard raced during his career, we contacted him and here is his feedback:
1. The white 550RS at Gainesville was bought from Mike Marshall in Miami
2. The red/white nose 550RS came from Cuban-American Johnny Cuevas
3. The silver 550RS he raced in 1961 came straight from the factory and was new; they never had to repaint it since Joe never put a dent in it.
4. The red RSK raced during 1960 was never owned by Sheppard, but he ran it for Brumos Porsche.
Answering the question why he did not race in the 1960 Cuban GP after winning the 1959 Alamar 4-Hours, Joe said he was there with one of his 550RS Porsches but that he blew up its engine in practice.
all answers Joe Sheppard as told to Willem Oosthoek.
Posted 11 February 2008 - 01:34
From the 1920s on the Sheppard family was deeply involved with automobiles, and some of those cars were fabulous.
Joe says this Renault was a 1923 "boat tail’’ that his father bought for $50. Just over the right rear wheel can be seen the words "Jack Jr." That was Joe’s older brother and the driver in this photo. Joe's older sister Maxine is here too. Joe is the little guy in the kiddie car.
Jack Sheppard had several Gas stations/garages over the years, all of them in various locations along Howard Avenue in Tampa. Jack Sr. was wiz at self promotion. Getting publicity was a big thing for him.
There are other photos of Sheppard race cars that are turning up. We will forward some to this thread with insights from Joe. Joe also really appreciates the interest shown by the readers here.
Posted 13 February 2008 - 04:00
Posted 13 February 2008 - 04:02