Press Release (for general media purposes, dated 9/10/2021)
The Frank Riddle Memorial Sprint Car Race Returns in 2021
By Richard Golardi, Columnist, Hoseheads.com
The Frank Riddle Memorial Sprint Car Race, which is scheduled for its 10th annual edition on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at Citrus County Speedway in Inverness, Florida, is being held to honor a man who is a sprint car racing icon and a Florida racing legend. This memorial race was held at Desoto Speedway three times previously, in 2007, 2008 and 2014; and at Showtime Speedway once in 2016; and also at Citrus County Speedway in 2013, 2015, and 2017–2019.
The BG Products Southern Sprint Car Series has confirmed that the Frank Riddle Memorial this year will be a regular season, 40-lap winged race for the pavement-only sprint car series. Series sponsor BG Products is providing sponsorship of the sanctioning body, the Southern Sprint Car Series, as they have since the series took over the sanctioning of the Frank Riddle Memorial in 2016. The Frank Riddle Memorial race winners include Troy DeCaire, Shane Butler, Dave Steele, Joey Aguilar, Mickey Kempgens, and John Inman.
Frank Riddle was a family man, a working man, a businessman, and a racer. He was inducted into the Little 500 Hall of Fame in 1996 and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2010. This last honor came three years after he died in 2007 at age 78. Frank is known for winning the Little 500, one of the most prestigious and grueling auto races, twice in the 1980s when he was in his mid-50s. In his career at Anderson Speedway, he had sixteen starts in the Little 500, with two wins, five top ten finishes, and seven top five starting positions.
Frank Riddle’s status as a fierce and talented race car driver was initially earned in Florida while competing at tracks around the Tampa Bay area. These tracks included Phillips Field, Speedway Park, and the half mile dirt oval at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Early in his career, Frank raced stock cars, modifieds, and super modifieds.
When sprint cars replaced the modifieds at Golden Gate Speedway in 1969, car owners sought out Frank to drive their cars, as he had already shown his abilities at “the Gate” and other local tracks. When the Tampa Bay Area Racing Association was formed, Frank was a regular sprint car competitor on both the dirt and pavement with his fellow Bay area racers. He had 95 lifetime Florida sprint car feature wins during his years of racing in the Sunshine State, which places him third on the overall Florida winners list, behind only Wayne Reutimann with 97 wins and Dave Steele with 101 wins.
Tall and lanky, Frank’s friends called him “Bones,” or “Old Bones,” and when he raced at Golden Gate, he called himself “the old man around here.” The press called him “Old Pro,” and “the Flying Trainman,” and “the dean of Florida sprint car racers.” His facial wrinkles always made him look at least 10 years older than his actual age, and he used that to his advantage. He’d lull his opponents into thinking he was too old and past his best days, and then he’d go out and beat them. He earned the 1980 USAC National Sprint Car Series Rookie of the Year title at 51 years old. At that time, it made him the oldest ever USAC Rookie of the Year.
After he retired from his job as a CSX railroad engineer in 1987, he spent his time farming at a small farm in Thonotosassa, and later retired from racing in 1997 at age 68. That year, he made his last trip to Anderson to drive in the Little 500. He is one of the racers responsible for motivating Floridians to make an annual trek to Central Indiana and the Little 500. Each year, the highest finishing Floridian at the Little 500 earns the Frank Riddle Award. This is why the BG Products Southern Sprint Car Series and Citrus County Speedway are honoring Frank Riddle, naming the race the “Frank Riddle Memorial.”