Monday, April 07, 2008

Some awesome living history... Frank Ruppert

Over the weekend I was very fortunate to get to spend a lot of time with a simply incredible car guy. His name is Frank Ruppert. While many of you La Carrera fans may not be familiar with his name, more than likely you have seen or read about some of his cars or drivers that he and his brother Frank C. Ruppert had part in sponsoring during some of the most historical La Carrera Panamericana races of the early 50's. Unfortunately Frank C. Ruppert (who is Frank's brother with the same name) is no longer with us but it would have been our pleasure to have listened to any input that he could have shared with us since he had so much to do with Ruppert Motors involvement and success's as well. Thanks to Frank C. Ruppert's daughters I was able to learn he was equally as amazing. One of them told me that Frank C. Ruppert did own many yachts throughout his lifetime and was considered one of the most accomplished yachtsmen and navigators on the West Coast. It seems both these gentlemen lived glorious lives.

I had the awesome fortune not only of getting to meet Frank in person so we could interview him for our soon to be released HD DVD about our La Carrera experience but Frank and his son and his son's wife treated us to brunch at his private yacht club. It goes without saying this was a first cabin experience and one we will not soon forget. Don't even get me started about visiting some of the car collections that Frank is involved with or his yacht.

Considering Frank Ruppert is without a doubt one of the most unforgettable characters I have ever had the distinct pleasure of meeting it's difficult for me to understand why everyone hasn't heard of him. Working with his brother Frank helped operated a Los Angeles Lincoln Mercury dealership and several other automobile business as well back in the 50's which took part in sponsoring some of the most famous names that have ever been known in the automotive racing hall of fame. Besides those sponsored, he was best friends with so many other racing greats on a first name basis. Not only did the cars and drivers that Frank was involved with win several of the early La Carrera's but in fact set records doing it many of which still stand to this day. There are too many to name but some of the most famous names in racing drove on that Lincoln team including Clay Smith, Johnny Mantz, Troy Ruttman, Bill Stroppe, and the list goes on and on. All of these drivers raced in other venues as well such as Indy and Nascar. One of Frank Ruppert's relationships was with the youngest driver to ever win the Indy 500. Not only did Frank travel with the teams back in those first history making races but he was instrumental in helping teams develop methods that have carried over into many other venues of automotive racing today.

Frank's son and wife brought the winning trophy which was awarded to Troy Ruttman and Clay Smith in 1951 by the Mexican Government which is a one of a kind trophy that requires at least two men to carry around. This is one trophy that you will most certainly not see someone hold above their head on the pedestal. To stand in the presence of this spectacular award is an honor all by it's self. Frank Ruppert has a mind like a steel trap and a wit that is it's equal and when he talks about the days of those great men and their machines you are a captive audience. Our interview with Frank is nothing short of magnificent and there simply isn't enough time in a weekend to enjoy listening to him reminisce about what are possibly the greatest moments that ever took place with respect to La Carrera Panamericana especially when you consider he was there in person.

This is just one of many old car magazine adds using one of winning Lincolns that was sponsored by Ruppert Motors.

Frank's participation in helping us document and express the true passion felt by anyone having "personal" involvement with La Carrera Panamericana simply cannot be told any better. I cannot wait to spend more time with a man who is indeed the true essence of La Carrera Panamericana. To meet and know Frank is to love him. Just wait until you hear him on our DVD.


Bret said...

Great stuff! I could have walked over to meet you! Looking at the picture, that is about a 10 minute walk from my house at the Venice pier!

Gary Faules said...

Had I had more time I would have really enjoyed visiting with you too. Have you ever dined at The Wherehouse? I don't think I have been in that one but I did have dinner with John Wayne in the one that used to be in Newport Beach back in 1976.

Francisco Ortiz said...

Incredible Person and Team!, thanks for the post and interview, I can´t wait to see it!