Remembering Bobby Shell; By Stan Kalwasinski

Bobby Shell ready to go racing at Chicagoland’s Santa Fe Speedway in 1969.
(Vince Mayer Photo)

Remembering Bobby Shell
by Stan Kalwasinski
Former Illinois stock car champion Bobby Shell passed away on Tuesday, February 12, at the age of 77.  Racing out of Piper City, and, later, Clifton, Ill., Shell raced stock cars, both late model, sportsman (old models) and six-cylinder cars, from 1962 through 1983 – usually behind the wheel of a red Chevy No.  1 carrying Hobson Chevrolet sponsorship.  Shell competed at tracks like Fairbury American Legion Speedway, Kankakee Fairgrounds Speedway, Mazon Speed Bowl, Chicago’s Santa Fe Speedway and the old Sugar Island Park Speedway, which was located in the Chebanse/Aroma Park area. 
Shell was a two-time stock car champion on the dirt at Fairbury, claiming championships in 1966 and 1968.  He was a track record holder for qualifying at Fairbury multiple times.  Shell was also a two-time stock car titlist at Sugar Island.  He was the old model (sportsman) champ at Sugar Island in 1964 and followed that up by winning the track’s late model crown on the dirt in 1965.  The high-banked, quarter-mile paved Mazon oval saw Shell win one championship in the mid 1960s during racing action during the annual Grundy County Fair.  He was inducted into the Mazon Speed Bowl/Grundy County Speedway Hall of Fame in 2005.  Shell also campaigned his late model at Santa Fe Speedway, winning several late model feature races.  Racing at “The Track of Clay” since the late 1960s, Shell was 12th in the Santa Fe standings in 1977, 14th in 1978, 15th in 1979 and 8th in 1980 when Shell won Santa Fe’s most improved driver award.  Shell was also the sportsman champion at the Kankakee fairgrounds dirt oval in 1983
Shell also dedicated his time to helping others as a fire fighter on the Clifton Fire Department for many years.  He is survived by his wife of 47 years Vicky Shell of Clifton, his children; Gina Shell-Lamore of Kankakee, Scott (Kristin) Shell of Elmhurst, Jason (Joella) Shell of Bloomington, and four grandchildren: Will Lamore, Nathan Shell, Hannah Shell, and Harrison Shell.  He was preceded in death by his parents Alvin and Elsie (Lang) Shell.

To honor his wishes, cremation rites will be accorded by Knapp Funeral Home in Clifton. The family will receive guests at the funeral home on Friday, February 15, from 4-8 pm. A memorial service for Bobby Shell, celebrated by Pastor Dan Shipton, will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, February 16, at 11 am. 

Those who wish may leave memorials in Bobby Shell’s name to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Victory Junction Gang, Joe’s Garage in Towanda, IL, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Bobby Shell finds himself wheeling his Chevelle (1) at Santa Fe Speedway in 1970.
(Vince Mayer Photo)

Bobby Shell guides his Chevrolet (1) through the turn at Santa Fe Speedway in 1969.
(Vince Mayer Photo)

Mark it a Santa Fe Speedway victory.  The date is September 23, 1978.
(Vince Mayer Photo)