Chicago’s Godfather of American Road Racing

by

Fred-wacker

Lake Forest socialite Fred Wacker Jr. posing on his families name-sake street in 1959.

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There is so much to say about the Fred Wacker, that we can not even begin to touch on his incredible larger-than-life accomplishments. We will periodically drip small doses of his Chicago journey, focusing one of Fred’s passions outside of his two companies, jazz ensemble and yachting: motor-racing.

The early 1950s were an amazing time for American racing; a time when both enthusiasts and local governments were having a remarkable love affair with street racing. Small towns could close their streets for a weekend, invite some barnstorming sports car drivers to town to have a bit of a race, and tens of thousands of spectators would flood the town’s restaurants and hotels. There seemed no end to the tourism and local business dollars that could be raised for little more than the cost of some hay bales and few extra police officers on duty. As you can imagine, with no seat belts, no roll bars and anemic drum brakes, one had to be quite brave, highly skilled and maybe a little drunk to consistently wheel themselves at high speeds down tree-lined country roads ( hmmm…sounds like beginnings of TFD ). You could smell the danger in the air as well as the unburnt petrol fumes at every turn. What emerged was a new kind of hero. Enter: John Fitch, Phil Hill, Briggs Cunningham and yes; Fred Wacker. These were the heroes that set the new standard of American motorsport in non-American cars. This was the birth of the Sports Car Club of America and Elkhart Lake, WI, Torrey Pines, CA and Watkins Glen, NY were the birthplaces.

. 1952-Fred-wacker-Elkhart

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