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See You At The Races!!!

 Tributes To Loved Ones

by Norm Bogan

"The Tulare Traveler"


On February 24, a number of race fans, family and friends gathered to memorialize Dan Frank, who passed away suddenly in Tulare, California.  Dan was born and raised in Sacramento, California, coming into this world nearly sixty-one years ago, at the height of World War II.  As a youngster, Dan participated in all the youthful activities.  He was close to his parents, inheriting many of their fine qualities.  After losing his father, Dan was devoted to his mother, always available to take care of tasks that she couldnít perform.

Dan was an adventurer, traveling throughout the world, meeting many people, who became lifelong friends and toiling to make this planet a better place to live.  Spending a couple of years in Libya in a quest to bring irrigation to the desert, Dan met a fellow worker from Sudan, Eisa Tioa Tutu in 1980.  Their friendship was so strong that Dan referred to Eisa as his brother.

As a young man, Dan always had a yen for speed.  He followed drag racing and became involved with a friend in a Land Speed racer, in which they established a new world record for their class.  The following year, his friend went back, attempting to break the record and perished in a crash.  For Dan, the death of his father, followed by the death of his good friend, had a sobering effect.

Danís passion became sprint cars, both winged and non-wing.  He loved the hard chargers, with one of his all time favorites being A.J. Foyt.  While never really admitting to a favorite, he always savored the performances of Randy Tiner, Dave Bradway Jr., Tony Stewart, Lealand McSpadden and Damion Gardner.

A circle of racing friends often traveled with Dan to tracks in southern California, Knoxville, Iowa for the Nationals and other venues throughout the country.  They journeyed year after year, since the late eighties and yet these compatriots, knew little about Danís private life, but never questioned his commitment to sprint car racing.  I recall driving down Main Street in Pella, Iowa and finding Dan leaving an antique store.

Through the years of watching sprint car racing, Dan developed a keen eye and often recognized raw talent.  Dan helped a number of young unknown drivers that operated on a shoestring, because he saw a good driver behind a rough exterior, offering not only encouragement and sometimes-financial aid, but also leads for sponsorship that would allow the driver to step up to a higher level of competitiveness.             

After moving from Sacramento to Tulare several years ago, Dan befriended Steve Faria, promoter at the Tulare Thunderbowl, local businessman and drag racing enthusiast.  Frank wanted to see Faria and the racetrack enjoy success, canvassing a number of businesses around town to make space available on race day to display a sprint car in hopes of peaking interest in the citizenry.  Dan also knew that Steve was swamped with work, so after leaving his regular employment as a stainless steel tubing bender, Frank would stop by Fariaís shop and work at machining parts for his friend. 

Dan had an analytical mind and would mull around an idea on ways to help racers to better organize their equipment.  He designed and marketed a plexi-glass fuel jet holder, which cataloged the jets by size, making it easier to have matched sets.  Selling these for the racing teams, Dan also made sure a number the lesser financed teams had one in their tool boxes.

About four years ago, Dan met Ruth Hyatt working in one of the concessions at Kings Speedway in Hanford.  Ruth said that Dan was such a gentleman, a really sweet person, who had so many good qualities.  Ruth remembered Dan taking a group of young boys to the races, hoping this would give them some direction in their lives.  As the kids enjoyed the racing, Dan sat back and just beamed with satisfaction that he was able to share this experience with these youngsters.

Dan was devoted to his Mom, Trudy, especially after the passing of his Dad.  Trudy lived in an area that had troubles with the telephones during stormy weather, so often he would call one of her longtime neighbors and ask is they would check on her.  Often a racing weekend would entail a stop by Momís house to take care of a few honey-dos.  Several relatives testified to the fact that Danís parents blessed him with a fine upbringing and he strived to live his life in their example.  Ruth said that Dan was the light of her life and cherishes memories of their time together.

So while this tribute is slanted toward the racing fans that shared a common bond, calling Dan their friend, we all learned that his was a multi-talented man.  He traveled in a number of different circles and was respected in all of them.  For me, I would love to have an opportunity to sit down with Dan and talk about his other interests.  Rest in peace my friend as you make the journey to that Speedway in the Sky.    







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