An American club racer of midgets and sports cars who, aged 43, tried and failed to qualify a Cooper-Climax T51 for the 1963 Mexican Grand Prix. Subsequently he became an Indycar mechanic, worked for Howard Hughes and was a USAC official.
Frank Dochnal died 11 years ago, he was 90
Frank J. Dochnal was born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. On leaving school he trained as a mechanic and later served in the US Navy during WWII. After the war he started competing in local Midget races, making his debut in 1945.
In 1955 he moved to Claifornia where he took up road racing with an Austin-Healey 100 later upgrading to an Austin Healy Le Mans in 1961.
In 1962 Frank was in England when he came across a Cooper T51 (F2/23/59) which was for sale. He bought it and had it shipped to back to the States. The car on a Thursday and he raced it for the first time on the Saturday at Riverside. Starting from the back of the grid he passed the whole field to take the win.
Frank continued to race the T51 in 1963 and was invited to race in the inaugural Mexican Grand Prix. Unfortunately in rained in practice and Frank lost control, hitting the barriers backwards and damaging the right rear suspension. Unable to repair the car, Frank had to watch the race from the sidelines.
He took the car home where he sold the engine and gearbox to Richie Ginther and, in 1964, the damaged chassis to Ed Mackey. Mackey installed a 1400 cc double overhead cam Alfa Romeo engine coupled to a VW gearbox.
In 1965 he went to work as a mechanic for J.C. Agajanian staying with the team for eight years before moving back to California. He was then offered a job by Howard Hughes in the research department of one of his companies.
He stayed involved with racing and was appointed as a technical official by the United States Auto Club. His second wife, Anna-Marie died in 1997 and Frank moved back to St Louis.
The only American-born driver to win the Formula One World Drivers' Championship (Mario Andretti, an Italian American driver, won the World Drivers' Championship in 1978, but was not born in the United States). He also scored three wins at each of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring sports car races.