World of Outlaws Late Model Series Star Chub Frank Celebrating 30 Years Of Racing In 2008
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
CONCORD, NC – March 14, 2008 – Time sure does fly when you’re having fun behind the wheel of a race car.
Just ask World of Outlaws Late Model Series star Chub Frank, who is celebrating 30 seasons as a dirt-track driver in 2008.
“The years have gone by in a hurry,” the 46-year-old Frank said wistfully. “Thirty years? I never would’ve thought I’d do this for so long.”
It’s been one heck of a motorsports journey for Frank, a down-home, hard-nosed racer from small-town Bear Lake, Pa., who embodies the rags-to-riches racing tale. He started at the absolute bottom of the sport’s ladder in a Spectator division car he got from the junkyard and has steadily risen through the ranks over three decades to reach his current status – a fulltime professional driver with an Everyman quality, a hero known far-and-wide as ‘Chubzilla,’ a winner of dirt Late Model racing’s biggest events and a favorite to capture the 2008 WoO LMS points championship.
When he ran his first race as a 16-year-old at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y. – a track then promoted by his father – did Frank envision that 30 years later he’d be campaigning top-notch equipment, working out of a spacious shop that includes a bar filled with mementos from his career, traveling the country in a gorgeous hauler and making his living as a dirt Late Model driver? Not a chance.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect it to go this far, to get to this level,” Frank said of his career. “I grew up driving packer trucks around (his father’s) track and I wanted to drive race cars, but it wasn’t like I thought I’d make a living at it.
“When I started racing, it was just something fun to do. My brother and I built a ’69 Impala and I went out there. I had like $75 in it!
“Everything we have now costs a little bit more,” he added with a smile.
The high cost of running his own race team leads Frank to joke that he’d “try to be a professional golfer” if he could start life over again as a teenager because “there’s a lot less overhead.” But, in the final analysis, he concedes that he’s very happy with his career choice. He worked, among other jobs, as a gas station attendant/mechanic, custom-trailer builder and jack-of-all-trades at his brother’s salvage yard before making dirt Late Model racing his fulltime occupation in 1990, and he wouldn’t trade his current position for any in his past.
“I don’t think there’s anything else I’d like to do,” asserted Frank. “No job is gonna get you more excited about going to work than driving a race car – the adrenalin rush is just unbelievable. Even after all these years, it’s still a lot of fun. We still enjoy traveling to different tracks, meeting new people – and driving that race car.”
Of course, there’s a good reason why Frank remains so fired up about racing: even with 30 years of it under his belt, he arguably hasn’t yet reached his peak.
“It’s taken the whole 30 years to get where we’re at right now,” said Frank, who has been an owner-operator for the bulk of his racing career. “It’s been a building process. We didn’t have anyone helping us with our Late Model stuff, so we had to build it up gradually. We bought cars, sold ‘em, and then updated the next year. Little by little, we kept updating and accumulating stuff and got to where we are today, with equipment that we feel is as good as anybody’s out there.”
Frank began driving in the Super Late Model division in 1985, while in the middle of a dominant five-year run (1983-1987) of Limited Late Model championships on his home circuit of Stateline Speedway and Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa. He won his first Super Late Model title in 1989, at Stateline, and then started venturing out to bigger events across the region through the ‘90s.
“We just kept trying to better ourselves,” said Frank, who was dubbed the ‘Shoestring Traveler’ because he used a bare-bones Suburban and open trailer to haul his car until 1996 (he went to a cube van and enclosed trailer before eventually upgrading to the conversion motorhome/stacker trailer he has today). “When you run with the best guys in the country you get better or go home, and it’s actually worked out for us.”
After winning several major shows during the ‘90s, Frank gained plenty of attention by capturing four consecutive STARS/Renegade Series championships from 2000-2003. He became a WoO LMS regular when the World Racing Group re-launched the tour in 2004 – the same year he won the prestigious World 100 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway – and has been the only driver to better his finish in the series points standings in each of the past four seasons (sixth in 2004, fifth in ’05, third in ’06, second in ’07).
Coming off a 2007 WoO LMS campaign in which he led the tour in A-Main victories, with six, but fell short in the points battle to Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Frank is confident that he can take that final step and bag a rich national title. It would certainly be a crowning achievement of a career he’s carved out his way, on his terms.
“If I had my choice, I would rather have been able to get (to national contender status) a lot earlier than we have,” said Frank, whose familiar Rocket No. 1* cars carry primary sponsorship from Lester Buildings. “I wish it wouldn’t have taken us this long to get where we are now.
“But it would definitely be satisfying to win (the WoO LMS championship) after everything we’ve done to get here. You have to be dedicated and figure out how to cut corners and save money if you’re gonna run with the big dogs with your own team, and winning a (WoO LMS) championship would probably show we’ve done it pretty well.”
Frank paused, then summed up his 30-year racing odyssey thusly: “What’s funny is sometimes, when you’re driving down the road, you’ll hear somebody on the CB say, ‘There’s a lot of Daddy’s money driving along in that hauler.’ I just laugh when I hear that, because in this case, with our deal, it’s just not that way.”
Frank, who sits eighth in the WoO LMS points standings after last month’s pair of season-opening events at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park, gets back on the trail when the tour resumes on March 28-29 at Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss. The inaugural ‘March Through Dixie 100’ will pay $20,000 to win from a total purse of nearly $100,000.