Frank Wearne

27/5/1913 - 21/2/1985

Record updated 27-May-08

Frank Wearne was an American racing driver. An Indianapolis 500 specialist, he participated in the race 7 times with a best finish of 7th in 1940. He only made two Championship Car starts in races other than the Indy 500.

Frank Wearne
Frank Wearne was born in Belle Plains, Iowa, though he lived in Pasadena, California. A sprint car and midget racer he specialised in the Indy 500 racing there on seven occasions. He made only two Championship Car starts in races other than the Indy 500.

In 1936 he drove the famous Atlas Chrome Special, thought by some to be the first race car built by Frank Kurtis, though it is probable that he only fabricated the body. When the Ascot Speedway closed in 1936 the car was bought by Neeley Burkitt and Frank did a deal with him to drive the car for $25 a week plus a share of the prize money. Racing in the Oregon and Washington areas had become very competitive but Frank secured the Championship for Burkitt.

He made his first trip to Indy the following year, qualifying in 33 spot. He was also due to qualify the Wehr 2 Cycle Rotary Valve engined entry but the car was withdrawn. His riding mechanic was Johnny McDowell who went on to race at the Brickyard. McDowell was killed in a crash at the Milwaukee Mile in 1952. They retired after 247 miles with carburettor problems but were classified 24th. 

Wearne was married to Elsie Crandell who, after they divorced, went on to marry Cal Niday in 1942.

He finished 10th in 1938 and 9th in 1939. In 1940 he finished 7th, his best finish at the Brickyard. He qualified 6th in 1941 driving the  Bill Holabird Shaw Offy. In the race he finished 8th.

In total he raced at Indy seven times in the 1930s and 40s, finishing in the top ten on five occasions.