a true gentleman

Frank and Evelyn

     In 1996 the NSRA Nat’s (National Street Rod Association) was held in Columbus.  I was part of the move in team responsible for the set up of the commercial vendors.  If you have attended a Nat’s you know that in addition to the outdoor vendors, there are a large number of vendors located in numerous buildings spread throughout the fairgrounds. Usually an NSRA staff member will be assigned to a specific building for move in and out plus the daily operation of the building over the weekend.

    Currie Industries was located in the building that I was looking after. Frank Currie started by designing differentials in his home garage. In 1964 he opened a 5000 square foot manufacturing facility in Placentia, California.

     The Curries competed in the first ever Rock Crawling Competition an came in 2nd. They have also actively been involved with JeepSpeed Challenge Desert Racing, King of The Hammers, Hot Rod Power Tour, Super Chevy Events and the Great Race.

     Today Currie Enterprises occupies a 40,000 Square Foot complex in Corona, California. It was in Columbus that I first met Frank Currie. I immediately liked and bonded with Frank. He was openly friendly, and a joy to be around and over the course of the weekend I found myself returning to the Currie booth numerous times. We talked briefly about the ‘32 Ford Roadster that he was building that he hoped to run at Bonneville. He never mentioned that the Roadster was going to be a streetcar, I just assumed an all-out Bonneville salt flat race car.

Frank's '32

     We met again at the NSRA Nat’s in Louisville and by this time the ‘32 had been on a road trip from California to Bonneville and back (2218 miles), ran over 200mph on the salt and became a member of the 200 mile club. The ‘32 was titled the fastest street legal Roadster in America and Hot Rod Magazine chose the 1932 Ford as The Hot Rod of the Year in 1998.

     In Louisville, it kept crossing my mind that wouldn’t it be great to have the fastest street Roadster and the Hot Rod of the Year as a feature at Performance World. The more I thought about it I came to the conclusion to forget about it. But I could not get the thought out of my mind so the next time I talked to Frank I asked if his schedule would allow, would he consider bringing the ‘32 to Toronto in March. My gut told me that even if he were available, the cost, travel time, air fare, hotel, gas and appearance fee would be prohibited. Performance World had already signed contracts for a couple of feature vehicles, and I knew that management would question me as to why we needed another feature.

     We were able to come to an agreement that Frank and the ‘32 would be part of the feature package for Performance World 1999. Frank decided that he and his wife Evelyn would drive from California to Toronto pulling a trailer. By the time they got back home it was close to a three-week trip. In discussions with Frank at PW he happened to mention that he had competed in the Great Race and had won it once and won numerous segments. He nonchalantly said that he participant in the Great Race 20 times and it was something he liked doing and it was no big deal.

     A week after the show I got a call from a spectator that attended the show on Saturday saying how much he enjoyed the show and wanted to thank us for bringing Frank to the show. He was so taken aback by Frank that he came back to the show on Sunday to spend more time with Frank.

     As I said earlier Frank was that type of guy and a pleasure to be around.

 

                           Frank passed away in 2016, he was 87.

I would love to hear your Hot Rodding experiences. Please comment below or email me at sled1949@rogers.com

                                                                                                                                           For now,

                                                                                                                                                         Gary Challice

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