PHOTOS FROM THE COLLESTION OF
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Mike and Ruth Franklin were introduced to racing in an odd way! While awaiting the birth of their first child, they made a trip to the doctor. It turns out the doctor they saw was none other than Dr. C. Marshall House, a racer in the mini stock division at FCS. Soon, the Franklins began attending the track, and like most good racers, were quickly hooked for life.
Photo by Rick Whitford
Mike kicked off his racing career in the spring of 1971. His first start came at Florida City in a flathead Anglia that he built himself. He won the class championship as a rookie, and carried the number "1" when this shot was taken in 1972.
The Franklins were a strong racing family. Ruth never missed a race, and Mike Jr. has been going to the track since the age of 6 months.
Mike Sr. also helped out his racing brother-in-law, Ted Merritt.
(photo by Ed Oberlies March 17, 1973)
Crunch time! Bob Manley in the #9, Mike Sr. in the #1 and "Robert is Here" Moelling get together with Phil Greenwood stuck on the outside.
Climbing racing's ladder... Mike rolled it on this night. The driver in the white fire suit helping to get the car back on its tires was fellow competitor Gary Greenwood.
After some new body work and paint, the winning ways continue. Mike repeated as class champion in 1973.
May 26, 1973
Weird fact: it may be hard to see, but Mike Jr. is a toddler in the arms of his mom who is seated in the stands. They are in front of the announcer's booth at the extreme left of the picture. I am shown 10 feet away, sitting with my parents. Small tracks are the best!
Mike Jr. caught the bug at an early age. He was a track champion at Hialeah as a teenager, then went on to run, and win, in Late Models. Jr. and Sr. owned and maintained their own equipment as they followed touring series around the south. Mike Jr. was one of the best LM drivers in Florida. He competed where the races were long and the money was high, on both dirt and asphalt.
All you Dads out there, this is how to do it.
1974 brought a TQ ride in the "Yellow Bird", owned by Oren Fields. Mike was fast right out of the box in this potent TQ.
July 6, 1974
Mike climbs out of the Yellow Bird after a two car flip with the other Fields TQ. 4-13-74
Starter Floyd "Smitty" Smith greets Mike after another win.
The 1974 season wraps up with a win on 12-15-74.
Mike ended up second in the SFRA standings in his rookie year.
The 1974 champions.
Left to right: standing Arnold Fields, Warner Graham (3'rd place) Mike Franklin Sr. (2'nd place)
Front row: Claude Hart, owner of the 8-ball, Oren Fields (1'st place)
After the track closed down, Mike raced this TQ where ever there he could. On this day in 1976 or 1977, the family was at the dirt track in Clewiston.
The red TQ in the background was the 77 driven by Fred Borgardt.
The Franklin family team was all over it in the 90's. Mike Jr. was the driver of their late model that found much success in traveling series and big races across the region.
In the early 2000's, Mike did a stint in the Pro 4 modified series too.