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We very much regret to have to inform Members of the death yesterday of Billy Skelly, one of the BRDC’s longest-serving Members, at the age of 88. Billy was first elected to Full Membership in 1952 and in due course became a Life Member.

Billy was born in Motherwell where his father had started a small garage business which became one of the strongest Ford dealerships in Scotland. In Billy’s early years the business also had sub-dealerships for Morris and Lea-Francis and it was to the latter that Billy was apprenticed and where his interest in motor racing began. His first racing car was a good-looking Lea-Francis Special with which he competed extensively in the various non-championship Formula 1 and Formula 2 races of the early ‘50s at such venues as Crimond, where he finished 3rd in a F2 race in July 1951, Winfield and Turnberry. In 1952 the Lea-Francis was replaced by a Formula 2 Frazer-Nash, one of only three single-seaters produced by the company after World War 2, the most successful of which was raced by Billy’s good friend Ken Wharton. Billy competed at the quite numerous Scottish airfield tracks and Irish road circuits through 1952, finishing 5th in the Wakefield Trophy at the Curragh.

Alongside the Lea-Francis and Frazer-Nash single-seaters, Billy also raced a Jowett Jupiter in a number of events including the 1951 Tourist Trophy at Dundrod and the 1952 BRDC British Empire Trophy at Douglas in the Isle of Man. He also ventured south occasionally, competing in the Production Sports Car race supporting the 1952 BRDC Daily Express International Trophy at Silverstone in the Jupiter.

After 1953 Billy raced only rarely as the garage business grew, acquiring a Singer dealership and the Scottish distributorship for Alvis before moving on to Ford. After selling his interests in the garages, Billy moved to the Isle of Man and followed his passion for art, in particular the Scottish Colourists, and very much enjoying his time as an independent art dealer on the Island. Two years ago the death of his wife Margaret, to whom he was devoted, was a considerable setback but over the years since hanging up his helmet, Billy had retained his interest in motor racing, remaining in touch with the Club and visiting Silverstone as often as he could. Two weeks ago he suffered a mild heart attack but, although he had been able to return home after treatment, he suffered the final fatal heart attack yesterday.

To his family and many friends in the sport the BRDC offers its most sincere condolences. A funeral service for Billy will take place at the Douglas Borough Crematorium, Glencutchery Road, Isle of Man IM2 6DB on Friday 9 August at 1.15pm.

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