One-Win Wednesday – Frankie Schneider
Everyone in NASCAR talks about the great drivers – Petty, Allison, Earnhardt…but what about the little guy? What about those drivers that toiled their entire career just to capture a solitary win in NASCAR’s top division? They deserve a little credit, too – and that is exactly what we are going to give them. Every week on One-Win Wednesday, we’ll take a brief look at one of NASCAR’s ‘one-hit-wonders’:
One-Win Wednesday Driver: Frankie Schneider
With the closest three-way championship battle in the history of the Chase coming to Texas this weekend, it is clear that winning the 2010 title is going to take more than just a fast car – it demands a smart driver that can avoid mistakes and knows exactly when to make a winning move. Not surprisingly, those are the exact virtues that made our OWW so successful behind the wheel. This week, we take a brief look at Frankie Schneider.
Outside of a few long-time Modified fans, not many people have even heard of Schneider, let alone know that he was one of the most prolific drivers in American racing history – with a reported 750 checkered flags in his three-decade career. Frankie won 100 races in 1952 alone.
To win that many times, you have to race a whole lot, and the Lambertville, New Jersey native would take a lap in anything he could get his hands on – stock cars, modifieds, midgets, sprint cars – you name it. And he raced as much as he possibly could; Schneider ran his first event in a street car (and finished seventh, at that), and sometimes would enter eight races per week.
Now, you might think that someone mad enough to race that often in that many different types of cars would be a bit of a lunatic behind the wheel, but exactly the opposite was true – in a time where bent fenders and no-holds-barred driving were the order of the day, Schneider was calm and collected behind the wheel, saving his equipment while the rest of the field ran themselves ragged, waiting for just the right moment to make his move and drive away from the field.
His smooth-driving style and amazing results earned Schneider a stately moniker of “The Old Master”, and while Frankie took checkered flags everywhere he went, only one of those came at NASCAR’s highest level:
The Win: 1958 NASCAR Grand National Race, Old Dominion Speedway
Frankie Schneider’s moment of NASCAR glory came in the 1958 NASCAR race at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia – the 13th race of the season.
Schneider qualified fourth in a race that had a pretty short field, with only 25 cars entered. Still, NASCAR greats like Lee Petty, Rex White and Junior Johnson were on hand – and even 25 cars made for close quarters on Old Dominion’s scant .375 mile paved surface.
Just as he did throughout his illustrious career, Schneider played it cool that day in the 150 lap event, letting attrition whittle down the field in the opening stages, and then making his move with 106 laps to go – taking his self-owned No. 62 1957 Chevy to the lead and never relinquishing it, coming home with the checkered flag and a lofty $600 in prize money. Jack Smith finished second that afternoon (the only other car on the lead lap), Rex White finished third, Lee Petty fourth and Johnny Allen (another one-win driver) was fifth.
What He’s Doing Now
In all, Schneider ran 27 NASCAR Cup Series races between 1949 and 1958, tallying 16 top-10 finishes, 11 top-5 results and the lone win.
Looking at Frankie’s prolific career as well as the results he posted in limited Cup series action (in 1957, he finished second in Raleigh while acting as the driver and the gasman for his team) it begs the question – why didn’t he race more at NASCAR’s highest level?
The answer, surprisingly enough, was very simple – it cost him too much money. Fielding his own cars on a shoestring budget, Schneider could make a better living running Modifieds, and that is exactly what he did after his Cup Series days – taking championships and checkered flags into the late 70′s and racing into the 90′s.
Schneider still lives in his home state of New Jersey, making appearances at local tracks to support his book – The Old Master: The Frankie Schneider Story. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hops behind the wheel every now and then, as well.