In 2016 The Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance honors Monte Shelton. Monte has supported the Forest Grove Concours since the event was founded in 1973, and he has participated as a Judge or entrant every year except two, when he was racing out of state. Below is an excerpt from the book ‘Long Straights and Hairpin Turns’, part of the Northwest Racing History Series authored by Martin Rudow. The book series can be purchased on-line from Rudow Specialty Publishing. Martin will be at the Forest Grove Concours on July 17th with books available for purchase.
By Martin Rudow
Oregon has produced some really fine racecar drivers. Oval track drivers Art Pollard, Len Sutton, Herschel McGriff come to mind. When it comes to road racing, though, one name really stands out: Portland’s Monte Shelton. Unlike most racing legends, Monte is still very much with us and in fact is still racing after 56 years in the game! Despite joint replacement surgery and the lingering effects of a couple of crashes along the way, Monte Shelton is still capable of racing with anyone.
Shelton began his racing career in 1960 with a 100M Austin Healey. His first race was at the long-lost Shelton Airport course at Shelton, Washington. Although he made his name nationally with Porsche, the early 60s saw Monte mostly with Healeys, the 100 as well as a 3000 model. Shelton often challenged for overall wins in the car and raced at all the northwest circuits of the day, Newport to Delta Park to Westwood. Naturally Portland International Raceways (PIR) was his home track and he became very, very skilled on it. Despite the course configuration changes over the years he remains the acknowledged master of the circuit.
For 1965, Shelton began moving to other cars. He bought a Competition Cobra (CSX2290) and raced in a few USRRC races in that well-remembered series. During this period he also was West Coast Champion in a Formula Junior Lotus 18. In 1966 Monte started racing bigger engined cars, including a Lola T-70. He raced that car against many of the giants of that era, Mark Donohue, Peter Revson, George Follmer, Graham Hill and John Surtees. For 1968 Monte moved on to a Porsche 906 Carrera and memorably often dueled with another Northwest great, Lew Florence, in a similar mount. Their race at the 1968 Pacific Raceways USRRC was a particularly good one, although Lew got the best of it that day.
Monte then campaigned Gurney Eagle F-5000 and raced in the L&M Championship for F-5000 cars with a best finish of fifth at Laguna Seca in 1971. That was followed by a Lola T-162 in which he competed in several period Can-Am races. He then followed that up with a McLaren M8F-1, a Can-Am car driven by Peter Revson, among others.
Monte Shelton has always been more than “just” a racer; he is also a genuine car enthusiast and supporter of many community events. He became active with the Forest Grove Concours right away when the event was established in 1973 and has either entered a car or participated as a judge for 41 of the next 43 years. For that weekend, racing annually takes a back seat to sharing his love of fine cars and supporting the Rotary Club’s fund raising efforts at the Concours.
Shelton next became heavily involved with Trans-Am racing in Porsches, although then and now he still sells primarily British cars at Portland’s Monte Shelton Motors.
In a Porsche 911 RSR he finished high up in several Trans-Am series races, at such places as Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, Charlotte, and Lime Rock. Naturally enough he won the Trans-Am series stop at Portland’s Rose Cup that year. He then campaigned a 934 and a 935. In the 935 he managed and overall win in 1978 at St. Jovite. He also won two Road America Trans-Am titles in Porsches 911RSR and 934. He has raced 11 times at the 24 Hours of Daytona “without so much as a fender scratch.” In that famous event he finished as high as third in 1979, teaming with Bruce Canepa and Rick Mears in Bruce’s 934. In the late 70s Monte’s son Neil began racing as well and immediately became a Trans-Am force in the family Porsches. Along the way Monte had found time away from racing to marry Susanne, his wife of over 60 years, and raise four children.
By the time Monte retired from Trans-Am he had 40 starts, five victories, 14 top three finishes, 26 top 10 finishes and two poles. He has won seven Rose Cups and been second nine times. In 2004 Monte was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for Motorsports, and in the same year again won the Rose Cup in the 934. He won it again in 2006 in a Porsche 962 (“the most pure racing car I’ve ever driven”). In the last few years Monte has raced a Ginetta in local vintage races and the Maryhill Hillclimb. He even occasionally sneaks into regional races anonymously in a VW Rabbit! He has now competed in over 1,000 races and has won more trophies, ribbons, and medals than he can count. Among his trophies are those he has been awarded at the Forest Grove Concours, and we look forward to honoring him at the event this year.