Franklin “Frank” Frederick Brennfoerder was born March 19, 1929 to Herman and Bertha Brennfoerder at Ruskin, Neb. Frank had two older sisters one of whom lives in Edgar (the other is deceased) and he graduated from the Nelson High School in 1948. His interest in automobiles started at an early age working on the different cars he drove to school.
Frank started his racing career in August, 1949 at a Hot Rod race in Nelson. He got his first win at that race in Nelson, which was during the Nuckolls County Fair. A piece from the local newspaper states, “Those who came a saw are now believers. The hot rod races held here last Friday afternoon were...real red-blooded entertainment.”
His car was built on an older Plymouth chassis modified for a Ford Model A body and used a Chrysler engine. It was co-owned by Nelson “Red” Melvin of Angus, Neb. The newspaper article goes on “...the six leading money winners in Friday’s races were Shuck of Edgar; Kucera of Ord; Hoff of Hastings; Holster and Tout of Lincoln; and Brennfoerder of Nelson. The later won handily, much to delight of the partisan crowd.” Under the sanction of the Nebraska Hot Rod Racing Association, Frank raced at Hastings, Deshler, Nelson, Seward, Fairbury and York in Nebraska, and Belleville, Kan.
Frank’s racing career was, like a lot of others, interrupted by Uncle Sam. He served in the U.S. Army between December, 1950 and August, 1954 with duty near St. Louis, Mo., and overseas in England and Germany. During 1951, while stationed at the Scott Field Air Force Base near St. Louis, Frank raced stock cars at Lake Hill Speedway, a 1/5 mile high banked track near Belleville, Ill. He was a regular on Sunday nights driving for Al Knith of Mascoutah, Ill. A write up when he was named “Driver of the Week” stated he had several semi-feature wins, seconds and thirds in features and a number of wins in heat races between Lake Hill Speedway and tracks at Mt. Vernon, Ill., and Valley Park, Mo.
While home on furlough in 1951, Frank drove the number 00 Groves and Madsen roadster out of Superior, Neb. The car was a creation typical of the day, a T-body design. The race was at Fairbury, and Frank replaced Tom Egan in the seat; Tom was recovering from injuries received in an accident.
On another occasion while still home on leave, Frank drove the radical Francis Schultz rear engine car at York, Neb. Frank set second quick time, and then proceeded to pull off a trio of seconds in his heat, the trophy dash and feature. Frank had a smile on his face when he stated that he was faster in qualifying than Andy Anderson in the Goodrich Belle of Belleville. Schultz of Norton, Kan., was killed at Wayne, Neb., later in 1951 while driving his own creation.
Back home in late 1954, Frank finished the year driving a 1932 Ford coupe for Art Stueben of Crete at Lincoln Speedway, which was part of the Capitol Beach Amusement Park. The years from 1955 through 1963 saw Frank driving a number of different cars, including track roadsters, sprints and coupes throughout the Midwest.
The early ‘60s saw the evolution of racing on the local scene move from modified stock cars to the supermodifieds. During the winter of 1963-64, Frank built a supermodified utilizing square tubing for the frame. The first night out in 1964 saw him win the trophy dash against some stellar competitiion including, Lloyd Beckman, Joe Saldana, Roy McCain, Marv Sohl and George Odvody.
Frank very easily listed 30 tracks on which he has raced in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota. He has no idea how many feature races or track championships he has won - he just didn’t think about keeping a record.
Frank built a number of the cars he drove, including those owned by others. He was the consummate racers -highly skilled and knowledgable, he could build the complete car, including engines, in an era when, if a racer needed a part he had to build it. He built engines for LaVern Nance in 1980 and 1981 when Sammy Swindell was Nance’s driver. He helped Harvey Kropp design Eagle Raceway one Saturday afternoon around the kitchen table at Frank’s house. He was a corner worker at Knoxville for a number of years after driving his last race. Frank was a friend to everyone in racing - his shop and home were always open to help a fellow racer.