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The Fourth Turn Third Rail of Remembrance A Memorial for the participants from the "Greatest Show on Wheels"

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Old 02-15-2008, 05:37 PM   #1
CNS121
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Smile "Fritz" Wilson

.
"Fritz"
.
Fred C. Wilson

1929 - 2007


"The Grand Old Man of Stock Car Racing" . . . That’s what Ted Douglass (1942-1998) called Fritz Wilson in the glorious days of Colorado National Speedways mud slinging and dirt ball throwing.

However, when most people heard the name "Fritz," they knew it was none other than "Fritz Wilson," I think one of the more recognized names in the Rocky Mountain area auto racing, so there was no mistaking as to who they were speaking of. Those of us who watched Fritz race will remember his smooth, get after it driving style on the track; and his true humanity off of it, my kids will testify to that.

So where to begin?
Fritz began racing motorcycles when he was a teenager and graduated to stock cars in 1947. He won the first stock car race he entered that season.
Whoa, hold it, wait a minute . . .

How about the main event at Lakeside Speedway that Fritz won on three wheels, but was disqualified. That one I remember, I was there sitting in the main grandstand near the start/finish line. It was 50 lap main event, but I do not recall what lap it was when the left front wheel came off Fritz' Chinese Carnival Red #6 '32 Ford Victoria . . .
The race is under way, Fritz is rounding the south turn in front of the pits, has starts into the back stretch, the left front wheel of the #6 car comes off and rolls to the infield, Fritz is still headed down the back stretch as the left spindle touches down and showing sparks out like the Fourth of July on through the north turn. From that point on Fritz is ignoring several black flags holding on to first place and then the checkered flag comes out. The left front spindle on Fritz red modified stocker did not touch the track surface until Fritz stopped in the infield.

What a performance, forget the disqualification, what a show, the crowd went crazy, it was like thunder the cheers and hollers that rang out from the grandstands of Lakeside Speedway. However, CARC official denied Fritz the win, the trophy and the points. But I believe he received the prize money, maybe for best of show. It may have unwise and careless, possibly, but Fritz was known for his daring moves and exemplary car control.

The reason the steering was not effected during the aforementioned main event is that Fritz' '32 Ford Victoria used a '36-'37 cross-over steering, which uses a left side pitman arm to the drag link to the steering arm to the right side, so all the turning was dependent on a still working right front wheel.
Championships -
Lakeside Speedway 1956 and 1957 CARC Track Championship
Englewood Speedway 1967 and 1975 Late Model Track Championship
Colorado National Speedway 1977 and 1983 Late Model Track Champion
Other accomplishments -
Fritz won the Sahara Late Model Open in 1975 in Las Vegas
International Pikes Peak Hill Climb, 1965, second place in the Open Wheel Division.
Fritz was also known for sweeping the field on several occasions at CNS, Lakeside, by setting quick-time, winning the trophy dash, the heat race, and the main event.

Fritz retired in the late 80’s a Colorado racing legend.
Honors -
Lifetime member of Colorado Auto Racing Club.
Inductee to the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Member of the Road Knights Car Club in Loveland.
Some Fritz’ rides I remember, just a few of many -
An almost worn out H-M 1956 Ford two-door NASCAR Sportsman at CNS In the 60's.
#7 Lakeside National Bank modified stock car.
Bob McDowell's blue #14 Lakeside modified stock car.
Frank Caputto’s #59 Jet-X '55 Chevrolet.
Fritz and Daytona . . .

Fritz raced in the Daytona 500 in 1959, the first year of the new speedway, he took part in the Grand National Series (now NASCAR) for three seasons, 1959-60-65. Though he never won a race in the series, he earned three top-five and four top-10 finishes.

Fritz is remembered for quite a feat in the 1959 Daytona 500. Fritz qualified third position, and was the first driver to lead in the inaugural race. The Daytona 500, the 3 of 44 on the series that year, wasn't successful for Fritz, he was forced to retire on the 15th lap engine failure, finishing 56th in the 59-car field. His earnings $100. The eventual winner, Lee Petty, collected $19,050. The 1959 Ford Thunderbird that Fritz drove was placed in the Daytona 500 Museum. Fritz is also credited as one of the drivers who helped pioneer the art of drafting in stock car racing.


Quote:
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"Fritz was one of the best drivers to come out of Colorado"
.
Quote, Jerry Van Dyke, Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.
.






. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It has been said that late at night if you are over by the old speedway, you can hear the ghosts, the bark of the "Flathead," the zing of the "Stovebolt 6," the deep throated rumble of the "Offy," the snarl of the "V8-60," and faintly hear the announcer say, “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the line up for the main,” the place would erupt with the echoing of the cheers and boo’s and you remember who.

Last edited by CNS121; 02-15-2008 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 02-15-2008, 06:08 PM   #2
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THE BEST DRIVER DENVER HAS EVER SEEN OR HAD
MAY HE REST IN PEACE.......
Fritz will ALWAYS be in our HEARTS
RIP my friend RIP WE LOVE YOU.....
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:38 AM   #3
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Fritz and 49D

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Fritz and 19D, no 49D
Remember when Johnnie Pachello towed two 19D’s to Lakeside? One was the "Six Shooter" the other was the "Flathead V-8", originally Pachello's #62D, the flathead car became a backup car in case the "Six Shooter" got crunched. The flathead powered car had on either side below the cowl line, a '36 Ford V-8 emblem with the letters "SB" just above the V-8 emblem. "SB" ? "Second Best"

Remember when Fritz’ #6 '32 Ford Victoria was out of commission, the "Fritz Wilson" backup car was 49D. Johnnie Pachello took the flathead powered car and changed the 19 to a 49, real easy to do. So Fritz had a ride.

I would have thought they would have used brown wrapping paper with a #6 painted on it and taped to the car to cover up 19, so that Frtiz with whatever points he accumulated for that race meet would go to him and the 6 car. When I talk about this with my friend Pat Frazier (before Pat passed away in 10/2006) he thought the same thing.

Pat and I were there the night that Fritz drove 49D, you should have seen the Wilson brothers in 19D and 49D chasing each other in the main event, what a show that was. By the way CRM had a photo of Fritz with the 49D car.






. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It has been said that late at night if you are over by the old speedway, you can hear the ghosts, the bark of the "Flathead," the zing of the "Stovebolt 6," the deep throated rumble of the "Offy," the snarl of the "V8-60," and faintly hear the announcer say, “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the line up for the main,” the place would erupt with the echoing of the cheers and boo’s and you remember who.
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:09 PM   #4
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I remember those days well with the 19 & 49 Don and Fritz had a blast and put on a great show. Those were the Days!




. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
# 71 Mod Coupe Owner&: Driver "" "In Memory of The Colorado Legend Fritz Wilson R.I.P.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:50 PM   #5
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One of Fritz's cars is out here in Mooresville, NC at the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. The car he raced was built by a North Carolina chassis builder and it's on display in the museum.




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Old 04-30-2009, 11:37 PM   #6
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Today , FRITZ WILSON has been gone for two years , WE MISS YOU.
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Old 05-01-2009, 05:07 AM   #7
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Fritz will always be in our hearts and greatly missed




. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In memory of Jim Coffey, James Matlock, Junior Reeder, Harvey Webb Sr, Lucky Beickman, Dale Deter, Dick Gastineau, Cliff Hudson, RIP my fellow racers, RIP Mom
"Racing is life. Everything else is just waiting." - Steve McQueen
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Old 05-01-2009, 05:48 AM   #8
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my grandpa played golf with fritz forever it seemed like and i heard nothing but good things. i was to young to see him race but from the stories i can imagine how great he was




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Old 05-01-2009, 06:45 AM   #9
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The memory that most stands out is one of the nights that some people tried to get what is now PPIR up and going, now this is going back to the days of Beacon Hill, Raceway and etc. Fritz and the guys where racing hot and heavy, and Fritz went off the track into no mans land and came back on the track with all kinds of stuff and finshed the race. He had cat tails, weeds, mud and maybe even some critters. There was only one race there if I remember right. The horse barnes were still there and they paved inside the horse track. We all had fun and froze our butts off. Now those were the days. Fritz we miss ya.
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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I came to Colorado a couple years after Fritz retired, but I can remember old Ted Douglass talking about him in the tower at CNS.

I wish I'd had a chance to see him run, too.

John




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Old 05-01-2009, 07:20 AM   #11
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WOW doesn't seem like that long already. Fritz RIP one of the best racers from Colorado
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:32 AM   #12
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FRITZ WILSON

I am blessed to have raced against Fritz on several occassions. He won most of the time but one time when he was put out of a race and I managed to finish it. Fritz was a well liked driver, and I will always remember the times I races against him.

Fritz, we miss you a lot.

I also new Ted Douglas. A great announcer and freind.

Rest in peace both of you.

Don DeJaynes

P.S. Scott Wilson, when you have time, send me an e-mail @ fan41@q.com.
I have some stuff about your dad.
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:03 AM   #13
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WOW 2 yrs already...
Fritz I MISS you so much everyday,Not a day goes
by that I dont think about you.
You will Always be in my thoughts each and everyday
I will never forget the time's my kids and I would come up to
see you and Cindy,Boy did we Love to hear your Storys....
Man how I miss those days
We Love & Miss You
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:39 AM   #14
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Boy... the memories do come flooding back when it comes to Fritz Wilson.. The man was and will always be purely and simply a legend in the local racing circles.... His smooth, yet aggressive drving style was fun and amazing to watch... Some nights in the pits, after the races he could relax and enjoy seeing the fans, signing the ton of autographs that he always did. But one night in particuar he was having much too good a time and he and Lynn Jones, found two small bikes, repleat with banana seats and they went to racing them through the pits!!!.. Both of them were a little on the drunk side, mind you, but it was hilarious to see.. Fritz was a true character, one of the best damned racers I have ever seen, plus a real great person with the fans... even on those really bad nights, he would stay true to form and be sitting there, smiling and signing away on programs, hats, shirts or what ever.... RIP Fritz.. I miss you immensely, as does everyone that you touched during your life time.




. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hope everyone enjoys a great off season. Congrats to all the champs and ROTY's

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Old 05-02-2009, 09:12 AM   #15
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There's an article over on the ARM site that has a lot of Fritz Wilson reference in it. cheytown_oldtimer
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
John E. “Johnny” Rostek (Ft. Collins, CO) When you ask someone what drivers from Colorado drove in NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifying races in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the most common response would be: “Fritz Wilson, and…<long-pause>…there’s someone else?” I will get back to that later in this article.

Johnny Rostek (1925-1969) owned and operated Rostek Construction and the Lamplighter Motels, Inc. based out of Ft. Collins, CO. His wife, Shirley L. Rostek (1925-2008), was the bookkeeper for these two booming enterprises. Later, Rostek owned the Charco Broiler steakhouse in Fort Collins. They were also the proud parents of two lovely daughters: Sharon and Cathy. Sharon has an extensive collection of her father’s racing mementos, and in the past, she shared many of them with us at the “old memories” site.

In the beginning (circa 1950s), “Johnny” drove race cars and won a lot at Speedway Park (Ft. Collins, CO), Intermountain Speedway (Cheyenne, WY), Pikes Peak Speedway (Colo. Springs, CO), Lakeside Speedway (Denver. CO), and Englewood Speedway (Englewood, CO).

In October of 1958 at Meadowdale International Raceway (about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, IL), “Johnny” drove his #19 ‘57 Ford in a 222-mile USAC stock car race on the 3.27 mile long track that provided him with a variety of turns and elevation changes. The track’s signature feature was the Monza Wall, a 180 degree steeply banked turn that led onto the 4,000-foot main straight. Race winner, Fred Lorenzen, pocketed over $3,500 in this 70-lap USAC stock car race driving his County Line Pizza-sponsored 1958 Ford. Lorenzen averaged 89-87 MPH as he defeated ’58 Indy 500 winner Jimmy Bryan in a ’57 Mercury and Chuck Daigh in a Holman-Moody ’58 Ford. Behind these top three finishers were: Les Snow (57 Chevy), Marshal Teague (57 Chevy), Whitey Gerken (57 Pontiac), Norm Nelson (57 Mercury), Bill Lutz (57 Chevy), John Rostek (57 Ford) and Red Duvall (57 Ford).

Johnny also competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb several times, winning the Sports Car Class in 1959 with a Mercedes 300SL gull wing. His other assaults on “the hill” were most likely in a Ford Galaxy 500, as that was most often his car of choice at local tracks like CDR (Castle Rock, CO).

In February of 1960, Johnny made his NASCAR debut by driving in one of the Daytona 500 qualifying races. After starting 10th in his #19 Ford, he crashed on lap-5, finishing 39th, thus eliminating himself from the actual Daytona 500 race that Junior Johnson won. Therefore, both Johnny and Fritz Wilson competed in Daytona 500 qualifying races during the late 1950s or early 1960s. Nevertheless, Fritz is truly the only Colorado driver to actually participate in “a” Daytona 500 race during the late 1950s or early 1960s.

In early 1951, Bill France announced that the NASCAR Grand National division would stage races in Phoenix at the Arizona State Fairgrounds (ASF), a one-mile dirt-track. Between 1951 and 1960, four sanctioned NASCAR events were held at the ASF track. Marshall Teague won the first 150-mile race in his 1951 Hudson while taking home $1275. The other three winners at ASF were Tim Flock (1955), Buck Baker (1956) and John Rostek (1960).

Yes! In April of 1960 and in only his second NASCAR race, Johnny led 58-laps and won the NASCAR 100-lap Copper Cup Championship at ASF while setting a race-record of 71.899 MPH in his #19 ‘58 Ford. According to the Phoenix Gazette, he received just $500 for the only NASCAR win of his career.

As of January 2008 and according to Bill Marx of the Sporting News, “Of car numbers with at least 1,000 starts in NASCAR's top series, no car number has had less success than the No. 19. In 1,176 starts, the No. 19 has been to victory lane three times -- John Rostek at Phoenix in 1960 (his only win in six races) and Jeremy Mayfield in 2004 (Richmond) and 2005 (Michigan).” While on the other hand and according to Jayski, the “Quickest wins by a driver: …McMurray won in his 2nd start at Lowe's today which is the new Modern Era record and ties the all time record, set by John Rostek, who won in his 2nd career start in April 1960 at Arizona State Fairgrounds.”

In June of 1960 at the NASCAR California 250 (a paved 1.4-mile oval at Marchbanks Speedway in Hanford, CA) driving his #19 ‘60 Ford, Johnny started 2nd, finished 3rd ($750), just ahead of Fritz Wilson who started 5th and finished 4th ($500). Note that only three NASCAR races where run at dirt farmer B. L. Marchbanks’ track. Danny Weinberg won the first race in 1951 on the original dirt-track In 1960 and just ahead of 2nd place Johnny Rostek; Marvin Porter won this NASCAR race on the new high-banked 1.4-mile paved course. In addition and in the final 1961 race, Fireball Roberts set the NASCAR race record at this track when he led all 178 laps of a 250-mile race, finishing two whole laps ahead of the second place driver.

In July of 1960 at the NASCAR Empire 200 (a paved 2-mile track at Montgomery AFB, NY) driving his #19 ‘60 Ford, Johnny won the pole-position with a speed of 91.65 MPH, led laps 7-13 of this 100-lap race, and finished 7th ($425) behind these NASCAR greats: Rex White-race winner, Richard Petty-2nd, Lee Petty-3rd , Ned Jarrett-4th, Buck Baker-5th, and Lennie Page-6th.

In January of 1963 at the Riverside 500 (a 2.7-mile road course at Riverside International Raceway in southern California) driving his #19 ‘62 Ford, Johnny started a respectable 27th in an impressive field of 44 cars, only to crash late in the race, finishing 13-laps down in 16th place ($500). This race marked the end of Johnny’s short, but very exciting, NASCAR career.

On December 29th of 1969, Johnny was killed piloting his own plane that crashed upon takeoff from the airport in Vermillion, S.D. He was only 44 years young.

I had to write my tribute to Johnny Rostek for several reasons: (1) Johnny was an even greater person than he was a legendary racecar builder, owner, or driver; (2) Between 1964 and his death in 1969, Johnny would visit my Dad (Lou Wendzel) occasionally on Sunday afternoons at our home in Cheyenne to talk about the good-old-days that the two of them shared together at Speedway Park; (3) Johnny would always tolerate and answer all of my “young-kid-questions” concerning his various racing adventures; and (4) Everyone that reads this article will now remember Johnny Rostek as easily as they do Colorado’s other favorite son, the great Fritz Wilson. ~VB

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