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Frank Bailey or Mike Bailey (Bali)


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#1 BALI

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 03:35

I'm trying to find information on Frank Bailey or Mike Bailey who drove sprint cars in the 1940's. I believe Frank Bailey was killed in 1947 while racing.

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#2 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 09:05

Frankie Bailey

http://www.motorspor...hp?db=ct&n=6267

#3 fines

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 09:54

Hmm, Frank or Mike Bailey? What's the connection, I have them both hailing from New Brunswick - where they brothers?

Anyway, of the two Frankie was by far the better known. The Motorsport Memorial page gives quite a good report of his career; one could add that he started out racing for "independent"/"outlaw" organisations like ARA (Automobile Racing Association), AMRA (Atlantic Motor Racing Association) or GSARA (Garden State Auto Racing Association) in the New Jersey area before joining AAA around 1934. I have an Al Bailey racing at Woodbridge (NJ) in late 1933, maybe it was him, maybe a relative or not, else his first appearance in my AAA records is Cressona (aka Pottsville, aka Schuylkil) in PA on June 10, 1934 - he finished 5th in the feature won by Johnny Hannon from Malcolm Fox and Ben Shaw, so he was mixing it with the big guys from the start.

Still, it was a major surprise when he won the 1936 Eastern Championship of the AAA, the second highest ranking championship in the USofA in those days; he was also 3rd in the prestigious Hankinson Circuit Championship that year, at only about 22 years of age! Anyway, he couldn't hold on to this success, and the following years saw him struggle a bit, though he still won a few races - the last win I have for him is a 15-miler on October 8, 1938 at Danbury (CT), and I think Mike Bailey finished second in that race!

Before that, however, he made his debut in the AAA National Championship on September 10 in 1938 at Syracuse (NY), driving a 1932 Gerber, but retired after the first lap with a split fuel tank. In Phil Harms's records this performance is erroneously credited to George Bailey, so he doesn't appear in most copy cat Indy Car databases...;)

Frankie Bailey appears to have retired in late 1939, as a third place at Union (NJ) on October 15 that year is the last appearance of his name in my records for almost eight years. There is a picture in "The Eastern Bull Rings" by Buzz Rose (p29), captioned "1936 Eastern AAA champion Frank Bailey in his #48 McDowell at Williams Grove in 1946", but I think it is in error and actually showing Frankie in the W. C. Brown (or Ralph Robbins?) McDowell in early 1947.

On June 1 in 1947 he teamed up with Johnnie Matera and the famous Ulesky/Hal at Reading (PA), finishing 6th that day behind Mark Light, Hank Rogers, Tommy Mattson, Fred Carpenter and Eddie Zalucki on a day when all the super stars (Horn, Chitwood, Holland and Hinnershitz) were having trouble. He would drive this car for the rest of his career, and according to one source even bought it from Matera, but subsequent events do not bear this out. He had a few top finishes (3rd at Bedford/PA on Aug 9, 5th at Rutland/VT on Sep 5), but then at the Juniata County Fair in Port Royal (PA) on September 6 he either lost control of the car or collided with Warren Bates (accounts differ), in any case he left the track on the second lap of the feature, suffering injuries to which he succumbed the following day "at Lewistown Hospital". :(

Posthumously, Frankie Bailey finished 23rd in AAA Eastern points for 1947, with 113.5 markers. The same year, Mike Bailey was 34th with 55 points, and does not appear to have continued his racing career after that, which would be very understandable if Frankie was indeed his brother or other relative! Other than that, I have him only finishing 74th in AAA National Championship points for 1946. I still have a bit more detail on Frankie's "outlaw" career, and a few more details on AAA races if you want, but it's all mostly number crunching stuff and I'm not sure if that's what you're after?

#4 fines

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:22

Found an anecdote in Johnny Gerber's superb "Outlaw Sprint Car Racer", regarding his one and only Champ Car start: apparently, Frankie was unaccustomed to the long-distance format (100 miles), and his inexperience resulted in his early retirement! To quote Johnny:

Coming down for the start of the race, I noticed Bailey pumping air into the fuel tank to beat heck. The tank being nearly full of fuel, left only a small space for air. One stroke of the pump would raise the air pressure under those conditions. After one lap, he came into the pit with the fuel tank split and fuel leaking out. He was lucky it did not catch fire. Two pounds of air pressure is all we needed to fill the carburetors with fuel and he must have created at least 20 pounds.

I'm not sure if Frankie continued to drive for Gerber...

#5 BALI

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 14:05

Thanks very much. Yes Frankie and Mike were brothers. Their real last name was BALI....they drove under the name Bailey, so there father would not know. Are there any books....that i could find Frank Bailey information or pictures in?

#6 fines

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 15:54

Interesting news, thank you BALI - you're not by chance a relative? :D If so, perhaps you could tell us something you know and we might be interested in, e.g. something about their social background (why shouldn't the father know? Business interests??), a family anecdote or even something as mundane as a birth date and place?

As for pictures or information in books, ottomh I'm not aware of anything other than the before mentioned "The Eastern Bull Rings" by Buzz Rose. Apart from the (small) picture mentioned on p29, there's another one (even smaller!) on p44 purportedly showing Frankie in the Ulesky/Hal and a few other cars at Flemington (NJ) in September of 1947 (a week before his tragic accident), but I have a suspicion that it's in fact a 1946 picture showing Hank Rogers in the same car - the picture's so small, it's almost impossible to tell!

The same book mentions Frankie a couple of times in the text, but it's only mentioning his championship and a short note about the fatal accident. But I have just remembered two more, though rather tragic incidents: On August 24 in 1935, Frankie was possibly involved in a career ending crash for fellow racer Frank Hildebrand at the Orange County Fair in Middletown (NY), but reports differ again - some say Hildebrand crashed on his own. Even worse, on May 16 (I believe) in 1937, Frankie crashed with Bud Henderson at Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania and went into a crowd of trackside spectators - one was killed, and three others injured according to a report. :(

#7 BALI

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 03:20

Frankie Bailey was my uncle. Their father was Hungarian and could not read English, so they drove under the name of Bailey so he would not find out if their names appeared in print. Their father thought race car driving was too dangerous, in the case of Frankie, seems as though Grandpa was right.

#8 fines

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 22:16

Originally posted by fines
There is a picture in "The Eastern Bull Rings" by Buzz Rose (p29), captioned "1936 Eastern AAA champion Frank Bailey in his #48 McDowell at Williams Grove in 1946", but I think it is in error and actually showing Frankie in the W. C. Brown (or Ralph Robbins?) McDowell in early 1947.

The same picture can be found here:

http://www.thevintag...ntage_ow3-5.htm (lower right)

#9 fines

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 22:30

Another one here:

http://www.thevintag...king/vow5-4.htm (lower left)

That's the Ulesky/Hal, now owned by Johnnie Matera.

#10 fines

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 16:46

And yet one more:

http://www.thevintag...ntage_ow3-6.htm (upper right)

Again, the Matera = Ulesky/Hal. The quality of these pixeled pics is modest, of course, however they are all labeled "Frank Smith Photo" which means they are part of the Bruce Craig Collection. This was discussed here on TNF some time ago, but I believe this collection is still available to the public after Craig's death a few years ago, does anyone remember who has them now?

#11 fines

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 20:28

Originally posted by fines
Another one here:

http://www.thevintag...king/vow5-4.htm (lower left)

That's the Ulesky/Hal, now owned by Johnnie Matera.

You can tell that I was researching racing cars rather than racing drivers, because I managed to miss the picture of Mike Bailey directly atop that of Frankie! :lol: Mike is driving the D'Amore/Hal, another well known pre-war car from the Northeast, this one from Massachusetts.

#12 fines

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 18:49

Originally posted by fines
Even worse, on May 16 (I believe) in 1937, Frankie crashed with Bud Henderson at Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania and went into a crowd of trackside spectators - one was killed, and three others injured according to a report. :(

According to this (undated) newspaper report (with a rather nice shot of Frankie), the casualty list comprised three fatalities, and four injured spectators, plus Frankie in hospital: :(

http://www.thevintag...st/tn_1_057.htm (left)

Are you still out there, BALI? :wave:

#13 fines

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 18:56

A few more details to the accident, according to the Chester (PA) Times, May 17 in 1937: the accident was caused by two boys crossing the track, and being hit by Henderson :eek:, with Bailey following close and trying to avoid crashing into the Henderson racer, losing control and instead crashing through a fence into a group of spectators! This terrible disaster killed three boys, aged 13, 18 and 19 :cry:, and injured three spectators (14, 19 and 23) as well as Bailey (22)! Ironically, Henderson would be killed two years later, almost to the day, and also after crashing at Langhorne...

#14 fines

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 09:55

Lowell Sun, Lowell (MA), Dec 10, 1937:

Midget Auto Racer Cheats Death
BOSTON, Dec. 10 (INS)— Lucky to be alive, Frankie Bailey, New Brunswick, N. J., racing driver, had no regrets today over failure to win in midget automobile races at Boston Garden, where the Bailey automobile, traveling at a 50-mile-an-hour clip, turned over, pinning him beneath it.
Aside from a temporary loss of consciousness and a shaking up, Bailey was unhurt.
Bill Troutwine, Gloversville, N. Y., won the feature 30-lap race with Bob Sall, Paterson, N. J., second; and Ernie Gesnell (sic!), Hollis, L. I., N, Y., third.



#15 fines

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 22:32

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#16 fines

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 22:15

In 1938, Frankie finished 8th on the AAA Eastern Circuit (248.5 points), and Mike 12th (156) in his very first year of AAA Big Car competition!

#17 fines

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 09:42

Altamont Enterprise, Altamont (NY), Sep 21, 1934:

After the main event it was found that Frankie Bailey's car could have caused a serious pile up had the race been longer than a 30-lapper. His right rear wheel dropped off just as he entered the pits. The axle was sheared completely off.

The report does not say where he finished in this race (Albany-Schenectady County Fair, Sep 14), and he is not amongst the seven listed finishers, but he did quite well to qualify for the ten-car main event at all in his first year of AAA competition, something one Bill Cummings did not manage, despite being the current leader in the National Championship, and having won the Indy 500 a few months earlier! :o

#18 fines

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 23:51

Finally, something about Mike Bailey, father (?) of the sadly absent originator of this thread. The Altamont Enterprise, on Sep 2 in 1938, in their report of the Friday races at the Albany-Schenectady County Fair of that year:

Frankie Bailey, the New Brunswick, N. J., flyer, wasn't in action, but the other half of the Bailey Brothers, Inc., was. Mike Bailey had trouble all day long. On one of his trial spins he jumped off the track, dashed into the infield, narrowly missed a high-dive water tank, a troup of midgets, tore down a fence and finally came to rest nudging a parked car.

Phew! Quite a ride, it seems! He finally made up by qualifying for the consy, but missed the main event by one position, as he finished second behind Gus Zarka (who he?;)) in his new Hal.

On Saturday, things went better: Mike qualified for the third heat, and won it in respectable time from Johnny Ulesky and Hank Gritzbach. In the main event, though, he finished seventh and last, with three of the ten starters retiring. Still, that was a lot better than Zarka did this time, as the Pennsylvanian failed to qualify for the main event by finishing only third in the consy.

#19 fines

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 20:33

Altamont Enterprise, May 24 in 1940:

Frankie Bailey is making his reappearance on the dirt track for the first [time] since his accident at Langhorn a year ago when he crashed through the guard rail and killed four spectators. He has been doing some midget racing, gradually getting his nerve back for the big circuit. He passed up Langhorne this year and feels he may never be able to race on that track again because of memories of that fatal crash. He has filed his entry and will be on hand to join the speed knights here on Memorial Day unless his nerve fails him at the last moment.