It is with great sadness that we inform the PVGP community that Tivvy Shenton passed away on August 30, 2023. Tivvy had been ill and missed the 2023 PVGP after a complicated medical procedure. Ultimately, his underlying medical issues were just too much. Sadly, he lost his wife Yvonne just a few months earlier.
Tivvy was well-known and loved by everyone. He was a popular racer at our events for decades and then later as our Chief Tech inspector. Tivvy was one of the key individuals who created the Vintage Racer Group (VRG) in 2004. He raced several vintage race cars, most notably a white 1955 Jaguar XK 140 FHC, that thrilled the crowds at Schenley Park for decades. He was an annual winner and was generous with his craft often taking volunteers and spectators for track laps to raise funds for the PVGP charities.
Tivvy’s restoration shop in Danville Virginia, aptly named Tivvy’s Autocraft, specialized in the restoration and repair of historically significant English and European race and street cars. He serviced race cars for other racers and could be found working in the paddock, helping other racers. He was always generous with his time.
Early in his career, he held technical roles at Rolls Royce, Allan Mann racing, the BMW factory race team and with Ralph Broad of Broadspeed. He was also on the team that developed and built the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars for the movie.
PVGP founder, race director and former board member Mike Connolly was saddened by the news but spoke with glee as he described meeting Tivvy in the early days of vintage racing. Mike said “Tivvy brought incredible exposure to our event and was connected to racers through the VSCCA, the VRG and vintage racing as a community. He was a brilliant mechanic and could fix anything. It’s people like Tivvy that make vintage racing what it is today.”
Tivvy was interviewed in 2017 when he was inducted with the inaugural class of racers into the “Legends of Schenley Park” and Tivvy said “In my many years of experience at the PVGP, it has been the people: racers, customers, corner workers and volunteer staff who have made a real difference. They have stayed true to the ideals of the sport.”
Excerpt from PVGP Race Program article on Tivvy Shenton in 2015
It seems like his gorgeous Jaguar XK140 coupe has been a staple at Schenley forever. And, that staple has been blowing away nearly anyone who dared tussling with his big cat from Coventry – winning over seven consecutive group titles. He never seems to miss a line through a turn, a shift on the straight, and his moves are as fluid as they come. With such racing prowess, you’d think that Tivvy Shenton would be pretty impressed with himself and as cutthroat as they come. You’d be wrong.
Hailing from Britain’s West Midlands, Tivvy is a mild-mannered, good-natured conversationalist who can enrapt you with his stories as easily as he does with his driving. He started his automotive career through an incredible 5-year Rolls-Royce apprenticeship where he learned nearly every aspect of building a car and even worked on locomotives. Ironically, he doesn’t seem to originally yearned for speed himself, though he ran race shops in London and elsewhere, working on Le Mans prototypes and sedans – “tin tops” as he calls them. He started at Alan Mann Racing in 1965, which ran most of Ford’s “factory” racing programs and rose in prominence throughout the decade.
As racing grew more corporate, however, Tivvy became frustrated and struck out on his own. “All the sudden, drivers became prima donnas. It just wasn’t fun anymore.” In 1978, he immigrated to Vermont and opened his own shop. This is when Tivvy morphed into the dual life of running a garage and running like hell. “A buddy came down with sheet metal needs for an MG TC. Then another. And another. I was doing cars for everyone else, I figured I might as well do one for myself.” He began racing in 1986 behind the wheel of a Cooper Formula 3. His trademark white Number 130 Jag would come later.
Tivvy must have a special place in him for the Schenley track, because he can’t seem to get enough of it. “If I could do only one event a year, this is the one,” he said. “It’s a destination. People who race only once a year come to Schenley. Ironically, it’s the most challenging track in the country, but people come for it.” He also volunteers in Tech Inspection, making sure that drivers are as safe out there as possible.
And yes, the rumor is true: Tivvy did work on the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars. The experience was very memorable for him. “I have the utmost respect for those old-time special effects guys,” Tivvy said. “They could cut a fresh piece of lumber and turn it into a beam that looks hundreds of years old. They’re very clever.”
Tivvy Autocraft, is a full service shop in Danville, VA, specializes in older British and European high performance and racing cars. Life comes full circle sometimes, as he’s now restoring an Alan Mann Escort. His racing has diminished somewhat in recent years, but he always makes it a point to come to Schenley. We thank you, Tivvy, for the show you give us and your dedication to our event.