A Look at Frank Fox

Let's get started with a, "thank you" to Fred Nation for calling our attention to this fine article by writer and historian Mike McCormick. It originally appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star on Sunday, February 8, 2006.
The subject of the piece is 1911 Indianapolis 500 driver Frank Fox, the only man in the race using a prosthesis for a missing leg. This was the result of a highway auto accident. According to Mike's article, Fox was an oil speculator, automobile dealer, and horse breeder and is remembered fondly by local historians in Vigo County, Indiana
Fox was born in Pennsylvania and began working in the State's oil fields at age 13 in 1891. He progressed in that field through a series of career moves to Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Kiefer, Oklahoma, and Bridgeport, Illinois where he had advanced to managing an entire company in 1905.
By 1908 his passion for automobiles was demonstrated when he purchased a Pope-Hartford automobile franchise in Terre Haute. He also purchased the land containing a race track on the Vigo County Fairgrounds. From there the article takes a curious diversion to the story of Fox' role in assisting a DOJ investigation in the transportation of two suspected terrorists in Indiana who bombed the Los Angeles Times building months earlier. This took place in April 1911 and despite some legal questions Fox forged ahead with plans to compete in the first Indianapolis 500 in May 1911. He finished 22nd.
Fox failed to qualify for the 1912 Indianapolis 500, but immediately initiated a project to design and construct a car for the following year. The car was named "The Gray Fox," with Howdy Wilcox as the principal driver, but Fox filled in as a relief pilot.
Fox also operated a ranch for cattle and horses. He had several racehorses, the best known of the bunch was a pacer named LaPaloma, born in 1919. He was also a philanthropist and real estate developer. Fox rescued a church destroyed by fire despite not being a member of the congregation. He had extensive land holdings near Terre Haute and as the city expanded he initiated development projects such as the Edgewood Place Subdivision, which still exists today. His purchase of building materials in the volume provide the scale to manage costs and he also financed the purchase of homes by people seeking homes in the growing community.
Fox' interest in horse racing led him to establish the "Fox Stake for Two-Year-Old Pacers" in 1927. The first race was won by Red Pluto. The Fox Stake continues to operate at the Indiana State Fair today.
Sadly, Fox was severely injured in a second automobile accident and that hastened his death at 53 on April 19, 1931. He is a member of the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame, inducted in 1986.

Frank Fox.pdf1.63 MB