Frank J Dochnal (merged)
Posted 04 January 2002 - 19:24
He was born on the 8th October 1920 & is still alive!
Anyone who knows anything about US zip codes can tell us possibly where he now lives :
Zip Code: 34243
I managed to retrieve this of a voter registration display of all places! I would've put it with me other thread but I thought as there's at least four/five who probably need this info, I'd put it separately!
All I can say, btw, was he was 42 when he tried to qualify. Draw from that what you will...
Posted 04 January 2002 - 19:53
Now just tell us about his racing career, and what car he DNQ in
Posted 04 January 2002 - 19:59
1963 Mexican GP. In a privately entered Cooper T53 Climax, Dunlop Tyres, Number 20, he crashed in unofficial practice & that's it - presumably the car was gone - no money - no mechanics - end of meeting for FJD & that's it - back into obscurity he went....
Posted 04 January 2002 - 20:57
Posted 05 January 2002 - 07:21
I was of course referring to the chassis number (but not expecting an answer)
Originally posted by David McKinney
....and what car he DNQ in
Also, a driver always had to earn a licence to compete at international level, which means racing in lesser events first. So the mysterious Mr D must have done something. Mind you, we are talking Mexico...
Posted 22 August 2002 - 21:10
Did anyone ever try to get in touch with Dochnal? He doesn't appear in Florida phone listings (as in people.yahoo.com) any more. Did we miss our chance? Or has Richie now tracked him down to Missouri?
Originally posted by Richie Jenkins on the "Whare are they now" thread on 7 Aug
Dochnal - not sure it was Missouri. It's where he is now though.
I notice that the only google results for Frank Dochnal are the 101 web sites listing his DNS. There seems to be nothing else about him except possibly this entry of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery (St. Louis, Missouri).
Dochnal, Frank J, b. 11/24/1909, d. 08/10/1987, US Army, CPL, Plot: W 0 741, bur. 08/12/1987
But that would make him 53 when he ran in Mexico!
Do we really know so little about him?
Posted 22 August 2002 - 21:46
Posted 22 August 2002 - 22:20
Our Frank is 100% still alive & living in Missouri, yes, no longer in Florida. 8th October 1920 is the correct birthdate but PM Kuwashima or Takahashi at F1 rejects as they know more. That's all I can say.....
Posted 22 August 2002 - 22:31
His one and only race was November 1963 so this isn't our man. Dochnal seems to be a Missouri name.
Originally posted by WGD706
I found a Frank Dochnal listed on the Social Security Death Index; born 17 Aug 1911, died Jul 1963. Last known residence not specified; Social Security number 497-07-3607 issued in Missouri.
Richie - I'll do as you suggest.
Posted 22 August 2002 - 23:42
We did in fact track Dochnal down (a long long long process going through several relations of his!), and a friend of ours, Stephen, working for our site has spoken to him, asking for an interview/information about his career etc. He said he'd be willing to help, and may even have some pictures, but that he was extremely busy with his business (at age 80-odd ). We have since been unable to contact him again; and just as I speak I have found out that the phone number may be lost by Stephen in a computer crash....
Rest assured if/when we get to talk to him again, TNF will be the first to know!!!
Posted 24 March 2004 - 11:41
Just a quick note to say that we have finally put on the net our biography and interview with that other forgotten man of F1, Frank J. Dochnal, now 83 years old and living in St Louis, Missouri. His moment of fame for those not in the know: he appeared out of the blue at the Mexican GP of 1963, crashed his car in practice, and thus couldn’t make qualifying, subsequently disappearing into obscurity.
It was quite a search, a lot harder than our efforts to find Tom Jones - as we actually had some leads to go on with Jones whereas we had barely anything on Dochnal (I think our first info came from Richie Jenkins here on TNF). The interview was conducted over a year ago actually, by the guy who did the searching, Stephen Slater. Since then we have been waiting on Frank to send us some pictures from his racing days, which he did only recently - hence the delay.
Some points of note to come from this... Dochnal was 43 when he made his attempt to race, and this was his final race of any kind as a driver. He drove (according to him) a Cooper T51, not a Cooper T53P as many F1 records show. What chassis number, you tell me! He was a long time club racer in California - anyone have any record of him?
Here’s the link for the Dochnal biography.
Here’s the link for the Dochnal interview.
Here is a picture of the T51 in question (there’s a larger one on the website). Any knowledgeable comments welcome (especially if someone can confirm it's a T51, or say it’s definitely not a T51, or say where the picture is taken, or something like that!) Also, any mistakes you might find in the bio or interview please let me know...!
Anyway, so who’s next?
Posted 24 March 2004 - 11:48
Posted 24 March 2004 - 12:00
You have just brought the light where it was needed, both for Dochnal himself, his family and friends and also for us the aficionados. Excellent job!
Posted 24 March 2004 - 13:08
*Phew* - I managed to keep the whole thing a relative secret all this time, goodness knows how. After all the work done by the three, I'm just glad it's up for all to see.
Posted 24 March 2004 - 14:43
Posted 24 March 2004 - 15:16
Posted 24 March 2004 - 17:10
Posted 24 March 2004 - 17:34
Could you do a larger scan of that Cooper and I'll try to figure out what it is. Doug Nye or David McKinney would know straight away but I'll have to look at photos. Definitely not a T53 - it's older than that.
Posted 24 March 2004 - 18:52
As for that Cooper - looks from the body shape to be even older than a Type 51.... Was the intrepid driver's full name Frank Optimist Dochnal????
But - again - well done indeed. Brilliant.
Posted 24 March 2004 - 19:21
Well done to all concerned
Without checking, I think I'm right in saying that the T51 was the first customer Cooper to come equipped with that vestigial fin on the top of the engine-cover.
Of course nowadays virtually every T45 racing in historic events also has the fin, and maybe some T43s too.
The light-painted wheels are more in keeping with an earlier model, but that's hardly a major departure.
My vote goes to a T51
Posted 24 March 2004 - 19:27
Pretty clear the color photo was taken at Riverside International Raceway, in the old paddock west of start-finish straight. I believe that is Box Springs Mountain (915 meters) up there.
I think the red and white sticker on the side is from the Pacific Sports Car Club, an association of accomplished racers including (by memory) Scooter Patrick, Davy Jordan, Kas Kastner, and D.D. Michelmore, among many others.
A real treat. Thank you.
Posted 24 March 2004 - 21:20
Posted 24 March 2004 - 22:14
So, which one? Jamie - do you know if that was Frank's colour scheme or could those be the colours it wore when he bought it. If those are the colours it wore in the UK, I bet Ted Walker could help us track it down.
Posted 25 March 2004 - 14:48
It may be that any "ex-Maggs" comment that was made at the time was misinterpreted and that the Cooper was one of the T51 cars that were raced by the Essex Racing Team in 1960, and for whom Maggs drove.
The mysterious Robert O'Brien might just be "Robert O'Brien". The Spa race was only a week after Le Mans and there were a number of American drivers in Europe. Possibly one of them, disobeying family orders, sneaked a drive. In 1951 Johnnie Claes co-drove at Le Mans with Bill Spear in a Ferrari so there was link between him and the Americans. As Claes switched to the works sports Gordini for the 1952 Belgian GP he may have lent his Ecurie Belge Gordini to Spear or one of the others. Just an idea.
Posted 25 March 2004 - 23:09
Posted 26 March 2004 - 06:41
1. F1 chassis, delivered in 1960 and not raced until June. Four short races only (holder of the Snetterton F2 lap record, A Maggs, 1m 40.6s)
2. F1 chassis, ex-R R C Walker/Stirling Moss. Winner of Melbourne, New Zealand, Pau and Buenos Airs Grands Prix etc
Both cars are at present fitted with Climax FPF 1500cc engines,which we would consider separating
Accompanying the ad is a tiny photo of the two cars, one dark, the other light. Impossible to tell, but the dark one (with light-cloured wheels) could be the one that went to Dochnal. The car Maggs used at Snetterton (and elsewhere?) was however the lighter one.
The second Essex RT F2 driver in 1960 was J H D Whitmore
Posted 26 March 2004 - 11:23
Posted 29 March 2004 - 15:49
Posted 30 March 2004 - 02:14
I hesitate to interrupt the admirable pell-mell (or do I mean "higgledy-piggledy") arc of this 'thread', but in a pile of paper between me and what I was looking for, I found another mention of Frank J. Dochnal. He is listed at Turn Two on the Marshals' assignment list for the Formula One Grand Prix of the United States at Riverside, California, November, 1960. I was certain I'd heard that name before.
Just thought you'd like to know.
Other names on the list include Ed Niles and John Queen
Edited by Frank S, 16 November 2013 - 03:40.
Posted 09 August 2008 - 18:35
A few rows about Dochnal:
<<... last of the 22 entries was an American, Frank Dochnal. He had entered an old 4-cylinder Cooper-Climax, this being Maggs' car before he drove a V8 car.>>
End of the story. No other words on Dochnal.
Posted 08 July 2010 - 01:11
Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:53
If he is able to provide more info or photos that would be nice.
Posted 12 April 2011 - 08:45
I have some more info on Frank Dochnal as I now own the Cooper T51 he drove in the Mexican GP. This is the info that I have:
In 1962, American Frank Dochnal, traveling in England, came upon F2/23/59, which was for sale. He fell in love with the car and bought it. Dochnal had raced midgets and sprint cars in and around Missouri, and later raced an Austin Healey 6 and Austin Healey Le Mans after he moved to California. But the Cooper was a big step, especially considering that he was already in his forties. Frank had the Cooper shipped to the U.S. He received the car on a Thursday and by that Saturday was already racing it at Riverside, where it had run in the Grand Prix two years earlier. As he had not had time to qualify the car, Frank was required to start at the rear. Undeterred, he stormed through the field to win in his very first race!
Frank continued to race F2/23/59 into 1963. That was the first year of the Mexican Grand Prix, which was not a very long tow from Southern California. Frank contacted the organizers and was invited to race the Cooper at the inaugural Mexican G.P. Once in Mexico, Frank found himself on the track with the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, John Surtees, Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Phil Hill, Pedro Rodriguez and others. Interestingly he became quite popular with the F1 regulars as he was the only one in the paddock with a coffee grinder and pot to make fresh coffee every day! While out running on the track for pre-qualifying it began to rain. Frank lost control and backed the car into a barrier, damaging the right rear suspension. They could not repair the damage as they had no facilities to repair broken magnesium, and Frank did not have spares. That evening Frank decided to retire from driving. That weekend he watched Clark win the Grand Prix and then towed the Cooper back to California.
Back in California, Richie Ginther was working on a building up a “special” race car. He acquired the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax engine and gearbox from Frank. What Richie did with those pieces is not currently known. However, Frank next sold the car to another Southern Californian, Ed Mackey. Ed purchased F2/23/59 from Frank in 1964.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 07:12
Thanks to the Henry Ford gallery, we now have a good Dave Friedman photo of Frank Dorchnal in his car during practice for the 1963 Mexican GP and a second one static.
The car was #7 (Walt Hansgen had this number on the program but was DNA).
Regarding colour, there is this film.
Edited by rudi, 06 November 2013 - 09:09.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 22:21
Thanks to the Henry Ford gallery, we now have a good Dave Friedman photo of Frank Dochnal in his car during practice for the 1963 Mexican GP and a second one static.
The car was #7 (Walt Hansgen had this number on the program but was DNA).
Regarding colour, there is this film.
That's brilliant stuff! Thank you a lot for sharing it. In that movie Frank's Cooper T51 is shown from 6:12 till 6:15 and has a dark green colour with white stripe around the nose. Frank wears white helmet and red overalls. What is also interesting that both -- in the photo and in the video -- Frank is pictured alongside Jack Brabham who is overtaking him. These two, Jack Brabham and Frank Dochnal, were the oldest drivers of the meeting. What is also interesting is that Frank's car had №7... And accidentally or not, but I would say that number 7 wasn't his lucky number: this became his last ever race after he crashed the car in the Esses, and his last ever day of life was 7.7.2010...