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Racing Commentary

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January 25, 2008


Is it possible that there is a racing fan on the East Coast on whom Frankie Schneider has not made a lasting impression? I think not. “The Old Master” has been a lively topic of gab with the rail bird set – for his antics both on and off the clay – for 50 years.

I first saw Frankie in 1962 at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York. I had just gotten my license, and we drove out there from Boston to see one of those 100-lap open modified competitions on Sunday nights on the half mile. Frankie was red hot dominant out on those high banks. In fifteen of those shows he had eight wins, four seconds and two thirds.

The afternoon we went out was drizzly, and when we got to the track, the cars were still on trailers waiting to see if there would be racing that night. At the head of the line was a painfully clapped-out old Cadillac towing a trailer with a red and white coupe aboard. It was Frankie’s deuce.

Needless to say, that sight had us kids in a twit. We went up to the car to look it over, fully expecting to see exotic components and meticulous workmanship. That car was as basic as tar, as unadorned as dirt, every part battle-scarred and sandblasted from thousands of laps. What I remember most were the nerf bars. Frankie had simply taken two old driveshafts and welded them in place. He hadn’t even cut off the U-joints.

Eventually the skies cleared, and the pits opened. Frankie proceeded to blow everyone’s doors off – and our minds along the way.

Over the years I raced against Frankie from time to time. I’ve also talked to him about various things I was writing. I was really looking forward to having him sign some of his The Old Master books in our booth last weekend at Motorsports in Atlantic City.

When he showed up at our booth, Frankie said “Do I know you?” I explained that he had helped with our book Paved Track Dirt Track on Old Bridge (NJ) and Nazareth (PA) Speedways. Then he asked if we had raced together.

I said “Yes, we have. And let me tell you about one of them. About 1970 I towed down to Nazareth and you and I were running side by side, you upstairs. We came around the fourth turn and I suddenly spun out. I got bogged down in the mud and they threw the caution. When you came around again under yellow, I looked over at you and you looked over at me, shaking your head. Can you imagine what that did to a young kid like me, Frankie? I’d towed all those miles from Massachusetts all the way down there only to have you, the Old Master, shake your head at me.”

Frankie replied “Where the hell’s Massachusetts. Never heard of it.”

He always was beautiful and he still is.

© 2008 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

.: Previous Tearoffs :.

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica

11/15/07 - Hangin' Tough

11/1/07 - Tightly In or Easily Out?

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - What's in a Name?

9/15/07 - Official Overpopulation

9/1/07 - The Look of a Driver

8/15/07 - Being Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer


























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