Frank Lockhart (racing driver)

Frank Stallworth Lockhart (born April 8, 1903 at Dayton, Ohio – April 25, 1928 at Daytona Beach, Florida) was an American automobile racing driver active in the 1920s, considered by many historians to be a legend in the sport on par with 1960s British World Driving Champion Jim Clark.[1] During a "remarkable if all too short" career,[1] Lockhart won numerous races on dirt, board tracks, the 1926 Indianapolis 500, and set a world land speed record for a distance average. In all, he had nine AAA wins and two vice-championships in two years of competition.

Frank Lockhart
Frank Lockhart in Stutz Black Hawk (1928).jpg
Frank Lockhart in his Stutz Black Hawk at Daytona Beach (1928)
Frank Stallworth Lockhart

(1903-04-08)April 8, 1903
DiedApril 25, 1928(1928-04-25) (aged 25)
Cause of deathCar crash while trying to set a new land speed record
OccupationRacing driver
Known forLand speed record holder (1928)

Racing careerEdit

Lockhart was raised in Southern California. He became a famous West Coast dirt track racer. Lockhart had a strong engineering and motor building ability that he used to build custom cars throughout his career.[2]


Lockhart began his career in Frontenac-prepared Fords (Fronty Fords) at board track racing events, where he showed remarkable speed against the dominating Duesenbergs and Millers for two seasons.[3] His big break came when he was signed as a relief driver for Peter Kreis's eight-cylinder supercharged Miller at the 1926 Indianapolis 500.[2] He convinced Kreis to allow him to take some "warm up" laps, and he clocked quicker times than Kreis (120.919 mph {194.59 km/h}). He set a new unofficial track record on his first official qualifying lap (a three lap average was used to set a track record). He cut down a tire and crashed on the second qualifying lap. He also had mechanical problems on his second attempt. He slowed down on his third and final attempt, and qualified 20th overall with a speed of 95.780 mph (154.113 km/h). On race day, he moved from 20th to fifth by Lap 5, having passed 14 cars on that lap alone.[2] He moved up to second on Lap 16.[2] Lockhart took the lead from Dave Lewis shortly after a rain delay on Lap 72. Lewis and Lockhart battled for the lead for the next 20 laps, until Lewis dropped out.[2] Lockhart nearly stretched out a two lap lead before rain ended the race on Lap 160,[3] becoming the fourth rookie to win the Indianapolis 500.

Lockhart bought the car. He later bought a second Miller car, and he set track records almost everywhere he went. He won four more AAA championship events in 1926, and finished second in the standings.[2]


Lockhart's car was the first car equipped with an intercooler. The intercooler added 8 mph (13 km/h) to his speed at his first race at Culver City in March.

Lockhart qualified on the pole for the 1927 Indianapolis 500 in his Perfect Circle Miller. Lockhart led the opening 81 laps, and a full 107 before his car broke a connecting rod, setting an opening lap-leader record that stood for 64 years. He won five more AAA championship events in 1927, and repeated the vice-championship.[2]

Racing career summaryEdit

In his racing career he set the all-time qualifying speed record at Atlantic City, a record first exceeded at Indianapolis in 1960. He raced at 22 board track events in his career, with eight wins and fourteen Top 5 finishes, and is 25th on the all-time lap leader board at Indianapolis.

Indianapolis 500 resultsEdit

Land speed record and deathEdit

Lockhart took one of his tiny 91 cubic inch (1491 cc) supercharged, intercooled[3] Millers out at the Muroc dry lake and set a land speed record of 160.01 mph (257.50 km/h) for a two-way average in the mile (1.6 km), with a peak speed of 171 mph (275 km/h).[3]

Backed by Stutz Motor Company, Lockhart combined two supercharged 91 ci (1.5 L) DOHC Miller motors, producing about 380 hp (280 kW),[3][4] the smallest-displacement car ever to make the attempt,[5] to set a new land speed record in the 122–183 cubic inch (2–3 litre) class at Daytona Beach. On April 25, 1928, Lockhart's Stutz Black Hawk Special streamliner (named for the Indiana town that was home to Stutz's factory[3] ) turned a warmup run of 198.29 mph (319.1 km/h), with his first official pass at 203.45 mph (327.40 km/h),[3] well below the 207.552 mph (334.007 km/h) mark set earlier in the year by Ray Keech in his 81-litre (4178 ci) Triplex Special.[3][4] On Lockhart's return pass the Black Hawk Special cut a tire (probably on a seashell), went out of control and tumbled violently across the sand, throwing Lockhart from the car and killing him instantly.[2][3][6][7][8]



  1. ^ a b Morgan-Wu, Sarah; O'Keefe, James (2012). "Introduction". Frank Lockhart: American Speed King. Racemaker Press, American Racing History Series. pp. ix.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Retrieved March 15, 2007
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mike Twite, "Frank Lockhart" in Tom Northey, ed., World of Automobiles (London: Orbis Publishing Ltd, 1974), Volume 11, p.1210
  4. ^ a b Tom Northey, "Land Speed Record", op. cit., Volume 10, p.1164.
  5. ^ David Burgess Wise, "Stutz", op. cit., Volume 19, p.2230.
  6. ^ Bradley Price. "83 Years ago Today: Frank Lockhart loses his life in the Stutz Black Hawk Special (Automobiliac, April 24, 2011)". Retrieved 2011-12-10.
  7. ^ Dieselpunks. "Stutz Blackhawk Special (, December 10, 2010)". Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  8. ^ "A Tragedy Of Speed!!" (newsreel). British Pathé News. 7 May 1928.
  9. ^ Frank Lockhart at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
Preceded by
Peter DePaolo
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
George Souders