Archiver > INRANDOL > 2005-08 > 1125010816

From: "Billy J. Baker" <>
Subject: Frank Funk and Winchester Speedway
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 19:00:16 -0400

Union City Evening Times, Tuesday, May 24, 1938

Frank Funk Making a Grim Battle in Winchester Hospital For His Life. -
Is a Pioneer In The Auto Dirt Track Racing. - Has Built Many Tracks Over
The Country.

Just 24 years ago May 30 next the man who is fighting a grim battle
with death at the Randolph county hospital at Winchester, Ind., gave
America the first specially constructed speedway. That man is Frank
Funk, a name well familiar all over the nation in speedway racing
circles and well known to the thousands of Miami valley auto race patrons.
Funk lies in a critical condition the result of a highway accident
near his home at Winchester.
Auto racing has made Funk and he in turn has made auto racing, which
is an important part of the sport menu throughout the mid-west.
The site of the world famous Winchester speedway, which holds every
recognized record from 22 seconds for the half mile up to 100 miles, and
which at every race meet has attracted crowds ranging fro 10,000 to as
high as 15,00, was one a corn field.
Recently Funk told how the speedway idea struck him. "Back in 1914
the site of the present speed bowl was a corn field. I was always
tinkering around some mechanical car motor when one day on the rad I saw
the then unusual feat of two cars tearing down the open dirt road. The
thought struck me that if we cleared enough cornstalks and weeds to lay
out a round path and could round up enough owners, a small race could be
staged on Memorial Day. That the idea was a popular one was shown by
the crowd which came by buggy, bicycle and traction car, and we were so
pleased by our success that we have been racing ever since."
The banks were increased on the turns from year to year and the speeds
increased as well. He next experimented with track treatment. During
the early seasons he had used mineral oil. This was impractical, as it
penetrated, and from race to race it was necessary to oil the entire
track to control the dust and afford a surface for the drivers. By
mixing various compositions during the past two years he has been able
to compound a surface that retained its form race to race.
Road builders and highway engineers became vitally interested in the
Winchester course as the material that stood up under the terrific
speeds of the racing cars would solve their problems of road building.
Funk aided them materially, and his findings were always available to
the state and county officials from all over the nation and became a
laboratory and proving ground in road building.
With the spread of fame across the nation of Winchester under his
guidance he was in demand all over the nation for building racing
tracks. He constructed the $50,000 Ft. Wayne, Ind. oval, patterned
after Winchester, and succeeded in returning the record for
five-eighth-mile speedway to the mid west. This was done also by
Everett Saylor of Dayton last summer.
Other speedways built under his supervision were Huntington, Ind.,
Woodbridge, N. J., and Jungle Park, Ind.
All through the years racing participants found a friend in Frank
Funk. And of the thousands of drivers and car owners, who had raced for
him in the past, never was there a complaint against his treatment of them.
Funk, Dr. J. K. Bailey of this city and Foster Shultz of Greenville,
O., were responsible for the establishment of the Central States Racing
association in 1935. They set purses large enough to attract the
drivers and car owners of repute to races in the scope of C. S. R. A.
operations, and also created additional purses to care for those who
suffered the misfortune of breakups.
That the Funk plan operated successfully can be seen in all C. S. R.
A. meets attracting the leading star drivers from all over America. The
Central States group has grown so vast in prominence that it is
recognized as the "fastest auto racing circuit in the world."
His season's inaugural at Winchester will be staged next Sunday
despite his serious illness. It has always been his wish that no matter
what happens to him, "the show must go on." And it will.

[Frank Funk did survive his accident injuries and lived on.]

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