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Change in direction

Frank looks back on Hall Of Fame?career

Photo by Scott Kindberg Chub Frank is pictured during a 2018 interview at his garage in Bear Lake, Pa.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story first saw the light of day in 2018 when Bear Lake resident Chub Frank was interviewed following his induction into the Dirt Track Racing Hall of Fame. This is part of a regular “Remember When” series.

BEAR LAKE, Pa. — The first weekend in May was one to forget for Chub Frank.

After hauling his familiar No. 1* car more than 600 miles to Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, South Carolina for a $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series race, Frank wrecked on the first lap of his heat.

“That made the rest of the night go bad,” he said.

And bad it was. On the first lap of the feature, Frank met the same fate as he had in the heat race.

“The guy in the front row spun out,” Frank recalled, “and (I) probably got the worst of it. I said, ‘I can do this at home. … I’ve had enough. I’m done.’ I didn’t fix the car. I just loaded it up and took it home.”

And with that, the man who was one of the 12 original contract drivers when the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Tour really got fired up in 2004 and who finished in the top 10 in points every year, took a figurative hard right turn rather than a figurative hard left.

Frank’s glorious career behind the wheel was about to head in a different direction.

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Frank’s trophy-filled “One Star Bar” is housed inside his massive garage. One peek gives a visitor an up-close-and-personal accounting of just what he has accomplished and what makes him one of the most decorated drivers in the industry.

Frank, who began racing at Stateline and Eriez speedways in 1980, won limited late model titles from 1983-1987 and claimed the Stateline Super Late Model championship in 1988 and the Eriez SLM title in 1989. After that, Frank won four consecutive STARS points championships; went on to claim 16 World of Outlaw wins and leaves the circuit 10th on its late-model all-time wins list; and is a member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. Frank’s best years with the Outlaws came in 2006 when he finished third in the series standings, only 34 points behind champion Tim McCreadie, and a year later when Frank was runner-up to Steve Francis.

“I never planned on (having that kind of career),” he said. “We were just having fun. Even when I raced on the road, it was more about having fun. The money was good, but it was about having fun.”

Frank’s schedule will be considerably less taxing this year. He plans to race some at Stateline, Eriez and probably make a trip to Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania in June.

“I’ll race when I feel like I want to race,” Frank said. “The thing is with the price of fuel that (hauler) will probably not leave here if it’s a 40 percent chance of rain or more. There’s no reason to race. If you’re points-racing, you have no choice, but when you’re not, it doesn’t HAVE to leave.”

Ultimately, the decision to cut back his schedule “comes down to finances.”

“It’s probably a good year not to do it because the price of fuel is going to be up. That’s going to hurt,” he said. “It’s not going to hurt the big teams, but it would hurt someone like me. We’re the only owner-driver out there. Everybody else has a car owner or a family deal with big money behind them.

“It’s not that you can’t beat them, you just can’t beat them consistently. First of all, you can’t keep up with the maintenance. You can start out prepared when you leave the shop or in the springtime, but eventually, it’s going to catch up with you, because you just can’t keep up, especially with no help.”

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Frank literally grew up at Stateline, a track that was once owned by his father, Jerry, which gave the former a chance to learn every aspect of the business — from the driving to the track maintenance. To say that experience has paid dividends would be a huge understatement.

Would he do it all again?

“I probably would,” Frank said. “It would be a lot nicer to be able to drive for somebody else. At the time, it was great when you’re running for yourself, because you don’t have to answer to anybody, but that’s one opportunity I never really actually had, to be able to drive for somebody.”

But, in a pleasant irony, he did drive for somebody — his many fans. Frank was so popular on the Outlaws circuit that his “Chubzilla” T-shirts were always in great demand. In fact, one year at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Frank got in a wreck, but he still came home with the same amount of money as the second-place finisher, because of the amount of merchandise that he sold.

“That kind of grew. That was big,” Frank said. “Kids would buy those shirts up left and right.”

Which brings us back to the beginning of this story and his decision to make fewer “left” turns during the racing season, so he can have an opportunity to do things that have been put on the back-burner the last 40 years or so.

Like a vacation?

“You know what a vacation is?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s unhooking the truck and going camping … and drinking some beer.”

Hear, hear to a great career.

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