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Frank Warren
Born:    September 8, 1937
Note: There are conflicting reports of birth date: 1933, 1934, 1937
Born: August, GA   -   Resides in Naples, FL
 

Frank Warren is a retired NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver who raced from 1963 to 1980.

Warren had led 72 of the 88,863 laps finished in his career. Warren's total career earnings were $625,886 and while his average finish was 20th place in his entire career. The total amount of miles raced in his career is 103,495.4 miles (166,559.7 km). Limited only by his financial banking, Warren proved to be a highly skilled driver and mechanic with tenacious moves on the track

He was one of the last drivers to campaign a Dodge (Magnum) car in NASCAR up until the end of his days in top stock car circuit in 1980. Lack of funds prevented him from rebuilding his Dodge for 1981 season, when the smaller (110" wheelbase) cars were mandated. In the 1980s, he occasionally competed on the ARCA circuit, running a Chrysler LeBaron. Native Tan was one of his consistent sponsors.

Flat tracks and short tracks were Frank Warren's strongest tracks; where finishes of 17th place were considered to be routine. His weakest finishes came on road courses where he was expected to finish around 23rd place on average.

 

Frank Warren FACTS
Born September 8, 1937
Augusta, Georgia
NASCAR Cup Series career
396 races run over 18 years
Best finish 8th - 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
First race 1963 Pickens 200 (Greenville-Pickens Speedway)
Last race 1980 CRC Chemicals 500 (Dover Downs International Speedway)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 29 0


 

Naples resident and former NASCAR driver Warren presented with car replica

Former NASCAR driver Frank Warren of Naples had been "warned" that his old friend, Tom Baker, was stopping by with something special.

Still, the 75-year-old Warren couldn't believe his eyes when Baker, on his way to Daytona Beach for last week's Coke Zero 400, pulled in from Fremont, Mich.

"It was perfect," Warren said. "The paint, the lettering, everything was perfect. The car looked exactly like it did when I raced back in the late 70s."

The No. 79 black and gold Dodge Magnum may have been only a replica created by Baker over several years of toil, "But I'll tell you, when I looked at that car, it sure brought back a lot of memories," Warren said. "A lot of memories."

Though he last unbuckled from a race car in 1980, Warren's passion for stock car competition lives on. He drove in the days when one set of tires would have to last the whole 500 miles, and if the one car he owned was wrecked, he'd work however long into the night to make the next race.

"We had to make it to the next race. It was our living. We couldn't afford not to make it," said Warren, who started 396 NASCAR races in all. "Let me tell you, there were some tough times there."

Baker, a professional magician by trade, was hooked on racing back then, too. So much so that Warren became his favorite driver. When Baker found an old, abandoned Magnum for sale a decade or so ago, he couldn't resist. He paid the owner $120 for the jalopy, drove it home and parked it in one of his pole buildings for eight years before his dream of recreating Warren's No. 79 started to take shape.

"It's still a work in progress," Baker said. "Frank was a guy I liked a lot back then and still do. It's good to have the car now to kind of help keep the memories of the old-time, independent drivers alive."

"I'm very humbled that Tom has kept our relationship going and that he has spent so much time and money to make this car," Warren said. "Really, I don't know why he took to me so much. He just did. I was his guy, I guess."

Baker towed the vintage machine complete with Native Tan sponsorship on the rear quarter panel -- from Michigan on an open-aired trailer so that all the other race fans on Interstate 75 could see it. Another Michigander, Dave Bowers, had put in quite a bit of elbow grease on the project, too.

Of course, Warren wanted some pictures taken, and even dragged out his old firesuit for some of the shots.

"That driver suit has a story, too," Warren reflected. "When Marty Robbins had decided he wasn't going to drive anymore, he saw I had a gold car and he had a yellow driver suit. So he gave his suit to me."

Originally from Augusta, Ga., Warren had raced on small dirt tracks until he got into NASCAR events in 1963. He got his break in 1965 when a man named Harold Rhodes asked Warren to drive for him on what then was known as the Grand National circuit. Warren's first true stock car was a 1963 Chevy Impala, which Warren ultimately destroyed in a crash at Charlotte. He later drove Rhodes' Chevelle, only to wreck it at Rockingham.

"I went to Daytona in 1963 and sat in the grandstands," Warren recalled. "When I saw those cars come barreling out of Turn Four, I knew right then it was something I had to do."

Warren, who built his own motors, had some memorable finishes, too, such as eighth in the Southern 500 at fabled Darlington in 1967. In 1979, he ended up 10th in the Daytona 500 and cashed a check for $17,500.

But it was the people who fueled Warren's love for racing. He loved hanging out with Maurice Petty and J.D. McDuffie. He enjoyed being invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter, who served up a tasty dinner for several of the old-time racing legends that day.

"It's hard to pick out one race that was special, but I'll always remember that day at the White House with President Carter," he said.

After racing, Warren, who had vacationed in Naples, moved south from Charlotte. He enjoyed a 20-year career as a mechanic in Disney's Magic Kingdom.

"If you've ridden a ride in that part of the park, I've worked on it," he said with a laugh. "It was a great place to work, very interesting."

Also rewarding is the work Warren has done the last three years as an usher, and then a security officer at the Philharmonic Center for the Performing Arts in Naples.

"It's a great job for someone like me," he said. "I hope to keep working here for a long time."

Warren enjoyed reliving his passion -- thanks to Baker's creation.

"My passion was to race hard," he said. "I wanted to be competitive. Just to race to make a living like some guys do today, I wouldn't have wanted to do that. I wanted to be up there running with the big boys."

PICTURES


'66 Chevelle


Texas Speedway


Beautiful Artist Rendering


Augusta, GA Track


 

NASCAR DRIVER Cup Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1963 28 2 of 55 0 0 1 0 373 0 260 101 19.0 11.0
1964 29 2 of 62 0 0 0 0 266 0 735 68 14.5 13.0
1965 30 4 of 55 0 0 1 0 769 0 2,880 46 30.2 22.0
1966 31 11 of 49 0 0 1 0 1989 0 6,740 31 22.9 21.3
1967 32 12 of 49 0 0 1 0 1805 0 9,185 24 23.1 24.1
1968 33 10 of 49 0 0 1 0 1643 0 5,365 42 19.9 19.6
1969 34 23 of 54 0 0 1 0 3343 0 15,677 29 21.6 23.6
1970 35 46 of 48 0 0 2 0 7709 71 35,161 10 18.1 19.6
1971 36 47 of 48 0 1 10 0 8984 0 40,072 8 19.7 20.4
1972 37 30 of 31 0 0 2 0 7091 0 45,048 11 23.5 22.7
1973 38 26 of 28 0 0 0 0 6713 0 36,551 16 27.0 21.4
1974 39 29 of 30 0 1 2 0 7342 0 55,779 13 23.4 18.1
1975 40 27 of 30 0 0 0 0 7758 0 55,671 12 22.1 17.0
1976 41 30 of 30 0 0 3 0 8063 0 67,731 16 21.9 18.4
1977 42 29 of 30 0 0 1 0 6466 1 67,945 16 24.2 21.3
1978 43 30 of 30 0 0 0 0 8481 0 68,173 14 25.9 20.6
1979 44 31 of 31 0 0 3 0 8477 0 94,538 16 23.9 20.0
1980 45 7 of 31 0 0 0 0 1591 0 18,375 40 28.6 24.0
18 years 396 0 2 29 0 88863 72 625,886   22.6 20.3

 

 





 

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