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
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