Joe Kelly (March 13, 1913 – November 28, 1993) was a racing driver and motor trader from Ireland. He was born in Dublin and was raised there, later moving to England. He died in Neston, Cheshire, England.
In 1950, Kelly – using his own Alta GP car, the last built – participated in the 1950 and 1951 British rounds of the Formula One World Championship. He was not classified in the results of either race, scoring no championship points, and his best grid position was 18th place, but his persistence with the Alta GP car paid off in 1952 with third place in the Ulster Trophy at Dundrod. His Alta was later modified to accept a naturally-aspirated Bristol straight-6 engine to become the Irish Racing Automobile. He also owned and raced a Jaguar C-Type sports car which he raced in Ireland at "The Curragh", known throughout the world as the home of Irish horse racing, and could also boast of having no less than two motor racing circuits in the late 1940s and early fifties. Known as the "Short" circuit and the "Big" circuit, both played host to great entries and attracted huge crowds. The Short circuit was first used in 1947 and catered for both car and motorcycle events. It was used until the late fifties, whereas the "Big" circuit was the venue for the famous International Wakefield Trophy car races which were held annually from 1949 to 1954. At a June meeting the lap record was broken by Kelly, this time driving a Maserati. This was the first purpose-built racing car to compete at the Curragh. Up until then the entries consisted mostly of MGs and home or garage built "specials". The crowd had become a great fan of Kelly and he certainly gave them a demonstration of high speed racing that day. The record which he set that day was to remain unbroken until 1954, when he again shattered it by almost 10mph, this time in a Ferrari sports car.
His own full-time driving career came to an end in 1955, following a serious accident at the Oulton Park circuit. However, he did compete in some hill climbs in later life driving Porsche and Ferrari sports cars, at Wicklow in Ireland. His Jaguar C-Type is still raced in historic meetings around the world, as is his Ferrari Monza.
Kelly was first a businessman; his racing took second place to making money. His car dealing and property trading came high on his list of priorities; he owned many very famous homes in Ireland and England. He was very well known in his native Dublin. He hit the Irish Press in the Fifties due to being the first Irishman to get a royal invitation to the first British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Following his withdrawal from racing Kelly concentrated on his business interests, which included the Irish Ferrari concession.
|1950||Joe Kelly||Alta GP||Alta L4s|| GBR|
| MON|| 500|| SUI|| BEL|| FRA|| ITA||-||0|
|1951||Joe Kelly||Alta GP||Alta L4s|| SUI|| 500|| BEL|| FRA|| GBR|
| GER|| ITA|| ESP||-||0|