I met Dave Franks in the late 90s. I don’t remember exactly how we met, but he was looking for a car to go racing, and I went with him to buy this derelict old Austin-Healey Sprite.
In the space of a year, Dave took that moldy old car and he made it into a jewel. He did things right, and when he arrived at the racetrack, everyone noticed that fact.
Dave and I started racing together. Our cars were about evenly matched, and Dave picked up racecraft quickly. By the middle of his first year, it was all I could do to stay ahead of him, and soon I was chasing him. Dave was a smart, clean driver, and his fellow competitors noticed that, too – a few years ago they awarded him the Wemme Trophy - the highest honor for overall achievement in our vintage racing organization.
The other thing to say is that Dave was a friend you wanted to have, especially in moments of stress. When I asked him to take on a leadership role in our racing club, he said yes. He became a racing steward – the people who resolve disputes – and he was respected by the drivers enough that they accepted his judgments.
Dave always had a calm, smart word when things were going badly. I think that quality is what I will miss most now and going forward.
I mention all these things because auto racing, at least to those of us who do it, is a powerful metaphor for life.
It’s often said that tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone, and that’s the reason to make the most of every day. It’s fair to say that Dave Franks made the most of the days that were given to him. He certainly made my days better, and I will remember him as a friend and a mentor.
By Jeff Zurschmeide
Area 13 Director,