Question Time

Ask Frankie

Ask Frankie

You asked, he answered.

A couple of weeks ago, we asked if anyone had anything they would like to ask Frankie. The response was massive! Big thanks to everyone that sent in a question. Here are the answers.

Which of the cars you’ve built over the years are you most proud of and why?
My 240 cu in New Zealand car. It was always a dream to build an NZ style car and then ship it to NZ and compete over there. Then to win the 240 in my own car was the icing on the cake.

What is the car / cars you’ve seen from other builders over the years that you admire the most and why?
Probably the Chris Elwell space frame cars for daring to be different.

What are your ambitions for 2015 and beyond in your F1 career?
To keep competing at the top. I would like to win at least one more World Final to make it 3.

With the continuing progression of your kids in oval racing will you continue to try and compete at the highest level or start taking a back seat over the coming years?
I’m going to keep competing at the highest level if possible. It all hinges on finances. With Phoebe in V8 and Frankie starting ones next October there probably won’t be a lot left for me, ha ha!

Do you have any say in the rules of BriSCA F1?
Only the same say as all other drivers. If I am concerned about any safety issues with the cars etc then I do voice my opinion.

Which has been the greatest ever F1 stock car, and why?
Probably my down tube car (the ex Tim Mann tar car). I won more races and championships in that car than probably any other.

When are you building Phoebe an F1? Or would you help her build her own?
No plans to build her an F1 yet. We are rebuilding an old chassis for her for Tarmac next season so she will have 2 V8s to play with. If she is nice to me I might let her use my F1 for a few outings.

Do you miss milking cows with your grandad?
I miss everything about my grandad. He was a big influence in my life and I enjoyed everything we did together. He was awesome.

Has it ever crossed your mind to step away from the week on week quest for points to concentrate on world finals more? A couple of notable drivers won more world championships when they stepped back from racing every week and the stress on machinery and finance that goes with that commitment.
Yes it has, but I enjoy racing on a regular basis, and while all my fans enjoy watching me then I will keep entertaining them as much as I can.

What other sports do you like besides stock cars?
I enjoy watching Liverpool play, and especially going to Anfield with Frankie to watch them.

Some of your fans often tell me that if you spent as many £s as some of the other top teams that you would still be winning every week. Is this truth or myth?

Just wondering if your sister or Mother ever watch you race these days?
Yes, they both still do the odd meetings.

What are your top 5 moments from the past 27 years?
1 – Winning the Long Track in 1998.
2 – Winning the points in 1994.
3 – Winning my first 240 in 1997.
4 – Frankie JJ winning both his golds, and Phoebe making superstar in minis and then in V8s.
5 – Collecting the truck and car from the docks in New Zealand and driving it down to Rotorua. Proud of that.

One thing you would change on today’s cars to make the racing closer on either surface?
I think we are doing okay keeping things fairly close with the shockers and tyres last year, but I do think we need to look at fetching shale and tar cars closer together. Maybe starting with a maximum rear weight rule on shale as I believe this to be the biggest difference between the cars.

Do you think in the next 5 years we will see a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on the winning rostrum of a championship all from the Wainman family?
I think this would be very nice, with me at the top 🙂

You and Danny have never shied away from an on track battle, always willing to trade hits and trying to finish ahead of each other. If Phoebe and Frankie JJ move into F1s, would you do the same against them or would you adopt a less aggressive driving style?
Not sure, to be honest. Ask me again at the end of 2015, ha ha!

If you and your family hadn’t got involved in our great sport, what career road do you think you would have taken?
Probably football. I was in the school team and was picked to play for Yorkshire under-16s before minis and stock cars took over.

What inspires you?
My kids.

Do you think a F1 is getting to expensive for you to race now?
You only spend as much as you have, so competing is always going to be possible.

Being from a family who has experienced all the golden eras of F1, what do you think would be the single most important change of direction or rule that would increase car numbers, tracks and supporters.
I don’t think there is any one particular thing that would alter everything. I think the sport is doing well to be where we are in these times.

Do you think Sam was right in Gears and Tears – money talks!
Yes, but there is always the front bumper to even things up!

In my family I am the worst for losing my temper at racing. Who is the worst in your family?
Phoebe and Sam.

If the BriSCA Tardis had been built, which former champion or old time great in their prime would you have liked to have raced, either in current or old spec cars?
Stu Smith Snr in same car as me? Only one winner!

How long does it take to build a car from scratch?
Roughly about 6 weeks.

Are you building two new cars for yourself next year or fine tuning your existing ones?
I am starting a new shale car soon, not sure when it will be ready. The tar car is all good. Should have both engines sorted for next season which will make things a lot better and give me and the team more time to tweak with the cars instead of swapping engines all the time. Thanks to Mark and his family.

Your favourite car of all time that you have built and raced and the reasons why it is your number one, you can only pick one.
My little black tar car – Black Magic.

With Richard Branson’s squillion quid sponsorship into the sport, you turn to team owner. Danny and Phoebe got drives elsewhere, so which 2 current drivers are you going to give drives to in the factory Wainman chassis ?
Waggy and Rich Masterson.

Do you still go midnight bowling in the off season?
Yes, usually New Year’s Eve.

Will you ever go to race at Emmen or Sint Maarten?
Hope so yes, if we can fit it in.

Away from any form of stock car racing what other style of motorsport have you always wanted to try?
When I get the time to go, I’m looking forward to having a go in a sprint car in the USA after Josh using my car in the World Final at King’s Lynn.

What was your favourite car/track combination, and if you could have tried any of your cars at any track, what would you like to have tried where?
Crewe, and my latest tar car/engine on the long track.

If you weren’t a car builder and all the people involved in FWJ racing weren’t involved, who would you choose to build your shale and tarmac cars and why?
Shale car would have to be Ray “Phil Dog” Witts. Tar car, I would like to say Tom Harris, but his chassis are not strong enough for me so would have to go with Cecil Sayers.

Would you do a Gears And Tears style program again?
Yes, it really lifted profile of our sport.

What would you like to see the silver roof awarded to – Shootout Champion or the traditional, whole season National Points Champion?
Without going into too much detail…  Shoot out = silver roof. All season points = national points champion.

With your experience of car construction, do you think that a construction rule book could be written that eliminated the differences between a shale and tarmac car and so making a single car a more attractive option for both surfaces?
Yes, it would be possible, with some give and take.

Which of your achievements in the sport are you most proud of?
Being the only driver to win multiple world championships in the UK, Holland, and New Zealand.

What do you think of the current plot in Emmerdale? (I believe you are a fan!)
Love Emmerdale! The current plots are good, and we recently got some inside info from the film crew as they were here at the farm looking to buy something… ?

How does the body feel on a Monday morning after so many years of knocks and bangs racing week in week out?
Some weeks are better than others, ha ha! Luckily my physio is only in village.

Have you ever thought of inviting one of your fans to work with you for the day to get a birds eye view?
I get quite a few visitors to garage already, so that would be good.

Would you allow a time served fabrication and welding engineer to spend a day repairing the steel work on your car free of charge after a meeting if offered?

The King’s Lynn World Final where Andy Smith drove round the outside of you for a few laps. What would you do if you could turn the clock back?
Probably the same. He had the faster car, we both drove clean.

Who are your top 5 F1 stock car drivers of all time? You can of course include yourself.
515, 53, 391 (Andy), 391 (Stu Senior), and 212 (Dad).

Always wondered when choosing your race number 515 which is great contrast to 212, did you have any other options in mind, e.g. 121, 313?
I was always 515.

Apart from your accident at Hednesford, was there another scary point in your career where you may have thought about hanging up your helmet?

Are you having another open day?
Hopefully, yes.

One night stand, marry, go on a cruise with? Your options are Andy Smith, AJ Hemingway, Elliott Horn.
Cruise – Andy Smith.
One night stand – AJ.
I’m married already.

Can you hear the crowd cheering you on?
Yes, it’s what keeps me going.

Can I have a go in your car?
Yes, make a cheque payable to FWJ Tyres first.

Would you come one time to Lelystad to win the Dutch Open again?
Yes, if we can fit it in our schedule.

What is your favourite track and why?
Belle Vue. It’s a drivers track.

Who is the most rated other f1 driver at present?
Tom Harris.

What keeps you going?
My fans and my kids racing.

Do you ever think this is my last year?
No, I will only stop when I’m not enjoying it.

What was the best F1 you have owned and built?
The little black tar car.

Did you ever consider making the move to the F2s or any other formula? If so, why didn’t you do it?
No, I’ve always wanted to stay loyal to F1.

Out of every season you have had in F1, which would have been the best and why?
2005/2006, I won all major championships.

Who would you say is your biggest rival?
Of all time – Andy Smith.

Is there a chance of the black magic special car making a comeback?
The car is sat in my dad’s garage. Its owner Graham Moulds may be out next season in it.

What are your top 3 favourite cars you’ve built and raced,and why.
Black Magic, the down-bar car, and the 2005 tar car. All very successful and enjoyable cars.

If you won the lottery and had unlimited funds would you try anything radically new with your cars, or do you think the rules almost don’t allow any real innovation these days? Or would you just use more powerful engines like most of the kids?
The cars are all good. Would probably buy new engines.

Who would you class as the second best ever behind you?
John Lund.

What do you do when one of the other top drivers is one car length behind, the race is in the closing stages, and you know there’s a possibility of a big hit on the entry to the corner. Can you do anything to mitigate it, or is it just take it and deal with it if it comes ?
Same as I have always done and will carry on doing – take it as it comes, ride the wall, and try to win.

Favourite track ever?

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 current stockcar drivers would you like to be stuck with and why?
Rob Cowley – absolutely hilarious company.
Paul Hines – witty and good for morale.
Danny – someone to pick on and he’s my bro.

Do you think you will still be racing at Sir John’s age?
If I’m still enjoying it, yes.

Would you race in Scotland if you lived nearer?
Yes, would love more meetings up there.

Are you making the trip to New Zealand next year?

What was your highest point in your career? And what was your lowest?
Lots of high points. 8 world championships, 15 National Points championships, 7 British Championships, 3 Europeans, etc etc.
The lowest points… the 1994 World Final at Bradford, and the crash at Hednesford.

What was your favourite Christmas present when you were a kid?

Is Phoebe making the move to F1 next season?
Not yet. She’s doing a full season in V8s, and maybe some meetings in F1.

Do you miss Crewe?

Have you any thoughts on the chassis Mark Thornton builds,is smaller better?
It’s a nice piece of engineering. Not sure if it’s right way for an F1? Time will tell.

Which three other items on a car, if controlled, would make the cars cheaper to build and race, and also maybe level the racing playing field?
Not sure that any single items will do this. The biggest expense at the moment is engines. The myth that you need to spend £30k plus on an engine needs sorting before it puts more people off getting involved.

You had issues with Gaz Bott, and Chris Elwell in your early years. To be fair you more than sorted it. Why do you think they picked on you in the first place? Issues with your dad, or just trying to put the new kid on the block in place?
Trying to put me in my place, I think. It didn’t work, I learned from an early age that if you get hit when racing, all well and good, but if you get buried then you hit back but harder.

Thanks to everyone who sent in a question!