Monte Shelton, 1933-2019
Longtime Portland auto dealer and racing driver Monte Shelton has died at age 85. Shelton operated the Monte Shelton Jaguar dealership on West Burnside Avenue for decades before retiring in recent years.
"I have no regrets," Shelton said a few weeks ago. "I've lived a full life, I have a wonderful family, and it was all more than anyone could ask for."
Shelton opened his first auto dealership in 1957 at age 23, but he learned his trade working for other dealers first.
"My first job was washing cars at a lot on Sandy Boulevard," he recalled.
Over the years, Shelton dealt in several different British car brands, including MG, Rover, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley. He finally settled on Jaguar, but always maintained an interest in collectible sports cars of all brands. In retirement he maintained a small business dealing in specialty vintage cars. He called the business "Monte's Motors" after his first car lot.
In addition to selling cars, Shelton was an accomplished racing driver. His record of seven wins at the Rose Cup Races here in Portland is unmatched. Shelton also finished second nine times in that race. He was an entrant in the very first Rose Cup race in 1961.
"I showed up to race in an MGA," he recalled, "and when I saw all those Ferraris and Maseratis I figured I'd brought a knife to a gunfight!"
Shelton's most recent Rose Cup victory came in 2006. At age 71 he beat the field in a Le Mans-spec Porsche 962 prototype.
His professional racing career stretched from the 1960s through the 1980s. He competed regularly in the Can-Am series, Formula 5000, IMSA, and Trans-Am. He raced the 24 Hours of Daytona ten times. In recent years, he raced a Volkswagen Rabbit. He drove his final race in March of this year, capping over 600 starts.
Shelton also lent his name to the annual Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Motor Rally. For 30 years, the rally has raised funds for the March of Dimes, and has grown to be one of the premier classic car events in the Pacific Northwest.
Shelton is survived by his wife Sue; daughters Darla Krieske and Jamie Martell; sons Tony and Neil Shelton; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An online memorial has been created at http://www.montesheltonmotors.com.