Joe ‘Tampa Hotshoe’ Sheppard

Joe Sheppard and his father Jack next to a Maserati 200Si
Born : August 11 1928
Deceased : October 13 2019
 

Biography Joe ‘Tampa Hotshoe’ Sheppard

 

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Joe Sheppard was born in 1928 and was the son of Harlow John (Jack) and Gertrude Sheppard of Iowa. Joe inherited the need for speed from his father Jack.  Jack Sheppard was a true entrepreneur who tried – and succeeded in – starting several businesses. From interior decorating, running a grocery store, to running a bowling alley. Joe’s father also had a deep interest in auto racing. He became quite the racing promoter in the late 1940s and early 1950s, managing races at Tampa’s Plant Field oval track. Jack Sheppard was the founder and owner of Sheppard Import Motors, a foreign car dealership.

 
Along with the success of his father’s business, Sheppard became a very successful racer. He competed against the great pilots of the 50. On many occasions, names like Juan Fangio, Stirling Moss, or Phil Hill had to climb the podium only to admit Joe Sheppard beat them., Soon, Joe Sheppard was nicknamed ‘The Tampa Hotshoe’ for his successes at race tracks all over Florida, Nassau, and even in Cuba.

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In 1956 Joe Sheppard along with Warren Smith planned to drive in the Sebring 12-Hour Race with Sheppard’s Lotus Mk 9 racing in class G (up to 1100cc). Pre-race publicity caused Warren, a B-47 pilot, to be sidelined by the US Air Force and was pulled as a driver. It was fate that Colin Chapman’s Lotus Eleven burned in a crash during training. That left Collin Chapman without a car to drive. But there was a solution by hand. Chapman teamed up with Sheppard as a co-driver. With a nice multiple-lap lead, the car failed to start after a pitstop and was disqualified.
 
Cocoa Titusville February 1959: Joe Sheppard in his Porsche 550 the way most opponents saw him when he entered a race.
 

Joe Sheppard and Porsche

Sheppard continued racing in Lotus cars before he switched to Porsche. It was in May 1958 that Sheppard entered his first race in a Porsche 550 Spyder. The Porsche 550 Spyder, back then equipped with the nose of a Porsche 718 RSK, a car that was just released. However, Sheppard was not convinced of the car and left it in the workshop after just a few races. He then bought a Porsche 550A Spyder himself around mid 1958. Sheppard entered his personal Spyder for the first time in the 6 hour race in Venice, Florida. He finished first ahead of Roy Schecter. Joe raced the red Porsche 550A throughout the season with podium finishes at most events, with his last race at Miami in May 1959 finishing first in all three races entered.
 
Picture credit Wim Oosthoek collection, Bob Bellows and unknown.