Anthony Shelley, Kawasaki ZX6R, 600 Supersport

Anthony Shelley: a star is born

There are a septillion (1 followed by twenty-four zeros) stars spanning our infinite universe, and once every now and then new ones are discovered. It takes great effort in discovering new things these days, let alone a TRUE star. In anticipation we (motorsport- spectators and readers) have waited for this momentous occasion for a long time; most trailing his trajectory, until it was bright enough to be fully appreciated and applauded. The star was always there, not so much its luminance, until today.

A star was born on 13 May 1996. His enthralling career spans over a great distance, and many spectators have realised his true talent in life from a very young age: nine.
Once the helmet is over his head, the cheering world becomes indistinctly, his view becomes limited and he can almost hear his own breathing. With his mind focused, he expectantly waits for the lights to drop. BANG! And out of the starting blocks came a bullet that knocked a 10.4 on a quarter mile at the renowned Tarlton International Drag Strip. That was in 2006, when Anthony "Antz" Shelley, was only 10. That day he also met Rickey Gadson(?), the quarter mile world champion ...

But it came at a price. When most of us had already given up—Antz keeps pushing diligently forward with every ounce of energy he can muster, not slacking one second in his efforts; then he still has to content with school studies (early mornings and late at night, oh, what a drag). I believe he wants to be in the lime light someday; on a big podium spraying the bubbly over the admiring fans ...

His racing career was not always "moonshine and roses". He had a few bad spills. Motorcycle racing is no easy feat.
I remember THIS accident vividly: He came out of turn eight (at Zwartkops Raceway), when he crashed his signature 74 orange-and-green Kawasaki ZX6R. Within a split second Antz raised to his feet again, lifted his heavy 600cc race bike with the last bit of energy in his tiny body (where most grown men would asked for assistance), and before the dust could settle he was off again (with a hole in his race boot and all) to finish the last few laps of the race. Who would not like to BANK/SPONSOR, a dedicated young man like Anthony Shelley #74?

Present time: In the Zwartkops pit complex, his yellow-black-and-white number 74, KMSA/Full Throttle Kawasaki ZX6R blends in with the rest of the congested race crowd. A cacophony of vibrant spirits warms up the cold and windy track conditions. He and fellow scoot jockeys doesn’t have dedicated garages with rubber flooring, spectator barricades, or even cushy branded sofas. No, they all share the same lot. Over the garage floor run dozens of electrical wires connecting tyre warmers and helmet fans, caution in your step is advised. (It reminded me of what I have read/seen in the Daily Sun the other day about illegal Kasi (township) electricity connections.) Like loosely tinned sardines, they all share the same dream, to be the best one day, and nothing will stand in their way, absolutely nothing. And so they continue to shape each other, to be the greatest 600cc Supersport division—EVER!

Race one: Anthony took second place with a best lap of 01:02.650 (on a standard Kawasaki ZX6R), just a fraction slower than top podium contender Lance Isaacs #2. Lance raced a best time of 01:02.622, also on a Kawasaki ZX6R. Places three, fourth, five and six, belonged to Cam Petersen #4 (best lap of the day: 01:02.576, on a MV Agusta F3), Brent Harran #3 (also racing a MV Agusta F3), Nicholas Kershaw #55, straddling a Kawasaki ZX6R, and to close the gate, Dean Vos #49, racing a vibrant blue Yamaha R6.
The backorder included Blaze Baker #51 (9th), Nicole van Aswegen #21 (Triumph Daytona 675R) (11th), Michael White #58 (13th) and Janine Mitchell #79 (Yamaha R6) (17th).

Race two: And the whole landscape changed when Anthony Shelley took the race lead (with a very quick 600cc train of his Pirelli tail). The crowd absolutely went ballistic in their screaming efforts, cheering him on, vigorously, until the chequered flag brought him home for his first national Super Series 600cc Supersport win—A TRUE STAR WAS BORN. His diligent efforts paid off at last, churning out a magnificent race win. An elated Anthony raced slightly slower than his first attempt: 01:03.056 (so did everyone else). Second place went to Cam Petersen, followed by Brent Harran, Nicholas Kershaw, Dean Vos, Lance Isaacs, in sixth, Rhyno Stander #24 (7th), Brendon Goode #71 (12th), Darien Kayser #89 (16th) and Loumari Grobler #17 racing a Kawasaki ZX6R (18th).

Anthony Shelley was the overall winner for the day, and later nearly bathed in the champers. Congratulations to Wayne Shelley, Grandpa Shelley and his mother, Monica Ellis. And to very special Amelia van As, for always believing, supporting, and cheering Antz on, no matter what.

It is not always easy to spot true talent. Then, you meet a vibrant young boy (17), that has the heart, right mind-set, innate dedication, commitment and passion to cause a tsunami right through the Zwartkops pit complex, just by taking a top podium spot in the second 600 Supersport motorcycle racing event. If you listen carefully you can still hear the reverberation of a dedicated crowd influencing his great win; fuelling his hunger to be the best. Let’s raise a glass, to his first national motorcycle racing championship win—CONGRATULATIONS!

In life we sometimes look for answers to set our minds free from the unforgiving and congested world. Inspiration is almost around every corner, every turn, in every hyped-up motivation book or seminar, and still we stay these relatively empty shells, that slog from Monday to Monday (if you live in the city of course), hoping that an enlightened moment will strike very soon. Right in front of thousands of spectators, rose that inspiration, and touched many: Anthony Shelley, 17, a bright new star on the horizon, racing ceaselessly, giving us hope, redirecting our thoughts and liven our spirits. Now, this is true inspiration, from a boy that is only slightly taller than his race bike.

Here’s to all the steadfast girls and boys of the 600 Supersport motorcycle racing division: ‘Semper Pugnans; Semper Fidelis (Always Fighting; Always Faithful/Always Loyal). You are all great stars’ —Godspeed!

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter (Super Series, 600 Supersport, Zwartkops Raceway, South African Motorsport, 2013/08/31, 120 images) Main Image: Anthony Shelley, 600 Supersport, Kawasaki ZX6R.

Super Series, 600 Supersport, images: 63/120

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