A famous character in a racing movie says, “All I want to do is race!” When you ask Zack Franks what he wants to do, you get the same answer.
The 17-year-old from Asheville, NC, surprised many last year at Newport Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Newport, TN, when he held off veteran drivers Wayne Webb and David Flynn for the title. Franks won the championship by a total of five points over his two fellow competitors. By the way, he missed the first two events of the season.
He competed in 14 events during the 2011 season where he won seven of those events along with 13 top-five and 14 top-ten finishes.
Franks impressive record also put him in the running for the ASA Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil Member Track National Championship where he finished second to 2011 National Champion Barry Beggarly. Franks had an average of 4.7075, only 0.2341 behind Beggarly.
What makes this more impressive is that this was his first full season of racing...ever.
“I wanted to race ever since I was five years old. When I was 11, I started racing go-carts,” Franks recalled. When asked if he raced up until he switched over to full bodied racecars, Franks gave a blunt answer. “No, I quit the go-carts because dad didn’t know much about them. But I ran really well. I finished second and third in my first two races.”
When asked if he only ran those two go-cart races, he simply said yes.
In 2010, he ran a few street stock events before moving up to the tough Late Model Sportsman division. “Everything went by real fast,” Franks said. “My dad (Junior Franks) said it would.”
Franks has a simple goal, “I want to do this full-time, I simply can’t get enough of it,” he said. “I also could not have done this without my dad. He has a lot of experience doing this and continues to teach everything that he knows.”
Zack’s father, Junior Franks, has competed in some NASCAR Nationwide Series and the former Sportsman Series with competitors like the late Dale Earnhardt.
Franks also enjoyed competing at Newport Motor Speedway. “Oh yeah, that track is a lot of fun,” he said. “It is the best. The racing gets so intense there, it is unreal.”
“Let me tell you something about this kid. Last year his dad put him in a street stock car. This was his first time ever being in a race car,” Ron Crane, General Manager of Newport Motor Speedway said. “About midway through last season, his dad decides to put him in a Late Model and in his first race he sat on the pole. We call him the ‘Wild Child’ and he has showed everyone what he is all about. He is a good kid, a little shy. But when he gets out on the track, nothing intimidates him but he is very appreciative of his peers. We are all very proud of him.”
Currently, he and his father are exploring their options for 2012. Those options include returning to Newport to run for the ASA National Championship or competing in super late model events.
By the way, if he does plan to return to Newport and defend his 2010 track championship, he will have at least one tough competitor trying to beat him. That driver is his girlfriend Taylor Nesbitt, who finished eighth in the standings last season.
ASA Racing PR