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Rick Fralick


Hi everyone, I’m Andrew Fralick, Rick’s oldest son. I’m not a writer or public speaker by any means, so please bear with me, and I hope you enjoy. This is a prestigious lifetime award, and I’d like to give you a little look into the life of Rick Fralick. This is abbreviated, and if you’d like to read more, check out FralickRacing.com
Rick was born in 1944, in Belleville ON. Growing up on the water was full of Tom Sawyer adventures with his brother Paul, which grew to outboard powered adventures. At 15 Rick built his first 3 point hydroplane. A ScatCat design with 10hp. They opened up the exhaust, and terrorized the neighborhood.

 

The Harmsworth Races in Picton were also during this time, and they never missed it. They had no car but found their way there. As usual they wanted to get closer to the action. They climbed fences into the pits until they’d get kicked out, and repeat. Rick retired to this same property in Picton about 10 years ago.

At 19 Rick saw an ad in the paper by Bill Boulter, looking for people interested in starting a race club. He and Paul went to the meeting that attracted about 25 people. They were now on their way to racing.

The next year at Green Point races, the same site as the Harmsworth race, his girlfriend Brenda pitted for him. Rick took 3rd in the 10hp class. It was Brenda’s first race, and they married 2 years later. Mom always told me that when Dad first mentioned boating, she pictured yachts, not race boats. Oh well, she enjoyed it none the less.

In 1967 Rick upgraded the tow vehicle. A vehicle he’s still driving today. It was a very practical choice. A roof rack for a hydroplane was added shortly after purchase. It was a new 327 Camaro with bucket seats.

In the late 60’s Rick watched many CBF races. In 71 he decided to step up to the CBF level. And headed to the Toronto CNE race, to view a motor for sale. Racing between the tight concrete break walls, with the churning water, was not inspiring. He remembers tonight’s fellow inductee, Jim Monahan, going fast in his D Stock when he couldn’t quite make the turn, hitting the far wall. But a deal was made on a B stock motor and a boat, and CBF racing started in 1972. Rick was #69, and his brother Paul was #68 in a C stock Hydro.

Some great competitors he remembers in those early years of BSH were; Tom Boulter, Tom Utman, Larry Burns, Bill Bolton, Mike Lundy, Gord McCrady Jr, Tom Davies, and of course John Webster. And also great mentors like Bill Boulter, and Brian Lancaster. Harry Wilson was likely his closest rival at the races. Side by side many times through their careers. Rick treasures a picture taken this summer, of Harry and himself, sitting in the Miss Canada IV at Picton.

In 1973 he built his first real racing hydro, a Hedlund copy. A fast little boat, but handling was terrible, and Dad fell out many times. In Welland in 74 he was in 2nd and did a 360 barrel roll in the turn. He took 30 stitches to his hand and lost his wedding ring. Brenda was not happy.

I was born in 72 and with a growing family, creature comforts were needed to keep everyone happy. He built the first enclosed trailer on the outboard circuit. Time to put a trailer hitch on that Camaro. The trailer doubled as sleeping quarters when the boat was removed. It attracted a lot of attention, and was the brunt of a lot of jokes. We were often rocked to sleep by guys having some fun outside at night.

As a result of the Hedlund incident, he purchased a second boat for rough water. A B/C class Lundy boat. In 1976 that paid off in Pierrefonds Que for the CBF Nationals. It was very rough and he won. His friends tossed him in after the race, and he was shown on the Montreal TV news. It was a real confidence booster for him.

In 77, Rick, an engineering designer by trade, figured he could do better and designed his own boat. He incorporated all the tricks he could think of; triangular tunnel, wider bottom, vented motor board, tapered coamings, throttle cut out, and more. Tom Boulter who was one of the top runners and good friend had a look at the drawings, and put his money down right then on one for himself too. They ended up handing really well and were very fast.

The following year a good friend of his, Bill Bolton, was ready to quit after destroying his Hedlund in a crash. What kept him going was Rick building him a Fralick boat.

That made 3 identical boats that resembled fine coffee tables rather than race boats. All hand painted with amazing graphics, and 70’s era pin striping. Tom went on to win 5 or 6 championships, and set the Canadian speed record at 68.4 mph. Rick won a couple championships, and bettered the speed record by 1 mph in 1983, but could only do it one direction due to course layout. So close.

Rick only made boats for family and closest friends. He was asked by a top US driver, Tom Good, to make him a boat but he turned him down. He was also asked to design an inboard, but passed on that too. Some of the tricks Rick did caught on quickly. John Webster saw how good the throttle cut out worked and instantly walked down the pits, and took a saw to his own boat right there.

I have to say though, and Rick admits, he was not the best or hardest driver on the circuit. But he liked to have the best equipment so he could take advantage of those times when opportunity knocked. There was a few embarrassing moments though.

Like in 1979 at the US Nationals in Dayton OH. 95 entries in class B Stock Hydro. He drew a very difficult heat, but nailed the start and was 1st at the turn. Going down the back stretch, he had a good lead. Soon a shoulder check and he realized he was about 300 feet past the next turn and watched the others go around it. I wonder if caught by thinking “I’m winning at the US Nationals!” So he cranked the steering and with determination after the mistake, passed about half the front runners down the next straight or two. After the 3 laps he made it to 2nd behind Donny Allen. Dad was faster, but couldn’t get around him. For years there were stories across the US of that Canadian guy who missed the turn at the Nationals.

Rick was often told by top competitors, John Webster and Ron France included, that he was the fastest boat in the class, if only he could drive. For this reason, Rick always liked the longer 1-2/3 mile tracks where speed helped you win. Not today’s 1/2 mile donut courses as he calls them.

With his boys getting older, one of Rick’s big pleasures was introducing us to boat racing. It was not forced on, but we had a natural eagerness. I was driving Dad’s B Stock at 4 years old while breaking in motors with Dad in the back of the boat. At 7 I had my own boat and started racing at 9 in CBF.

Then Stock Outboard racing died out in CBF for a few years during the mid 80s because of insurance problems, gas prices, and the economy.

Rick was one of the people to get racing back on the water in the late 80’s, calling up previous racers to attend tunnel boat races at Dunnville and Gravenhurst. Thanks to Mike Werner and Norm Woods, they were able to get Stocks on the program in a limited way to build our numbers. It was a slow process taking a few years.

During this time Rick was secretary of the Toronto Outboard Racing Club. And then was Membership Director for 10 years or so. In 1994 TORC was able to put on its first CBF race in almost 10 years. We needed a clock though, and Rick designed and built the first electronic clock in Outboard. He also did much of the leg work to get race boat displays at the Boat Show, Sportsman Show and Cottage Show in the Toronto area through the 90’s. In 1990 the TORC newsletter was resurrected by the Fralick’s. Rick writing most the content, and Andrew doing the layouts, with Graham filling in from time to time. This was a 20 year affair with a couple exceptions.

Rick’s first wife Brenda was always a huge help with his activities, lending a hand at home and at races. Always our loudest cheerer on shore. She also spent many days on the judge’s stand and became a chief scorer. Once or twice she could be seen in a race boat at a test session too. Brenda passed away in an auto accident the summer of 99, a loss we still feel today. The family received a CBF award that Fall in recognition of the family’s contribution to the sport. Eventually Christine came into Rick’s life. Also a huge help, they married in 2007, and have enjoyed many adventures together in and outside of racing.

With the boys in A class during the early 90’s. Rick could see the need for boats to suit the new OMC engine. He designed his first pickle fork hydro with his sons help. Rick also saw raceboat plans were needed that were current for people to build from. Dad and myself drew plans on CAD so people could build one. Building these boats was one of the best experiences Rick had with his family. We worked hundreds of hours in the shop, and there was hardly a moment that went by when we were not laughing and joking. We put every new trick in the hull we could think of; inset motor board, stepped sponsons, aerodynamic fuel tank and more. And the plans shared all the tricks.

In 95 Rick decided to try 25 Hydro with the new Mercury 25XS engine. This required a larger boat for the 70+ mph class, and again plans were created with more new tricks. Plans for Fralick Boats have been sold all across the world now, winning races and Championships near and far. The three of us have won about 22 CBF Championships in Fralick hulls.

Also in the 90’s was another need. Getting used equipment out of basements, and in the hands of racers. The sport was growing. A TORC Swap Meet was started. Held in a garage downtown Toronto at first, it quickly out grew the location, and Rick has hosted it since with a few exceptions. Lots of good times have been had by many at these events.

So, Rick was fundamental in re-growing the sport; plans, newsletters, trade shows, swap meets, and more. But there was nowhere for local racers to buy the supplies and safety gear they needed. So he started to sell all those items and setup a store at races and online. He’s been carrying around a motorhome full of stuff for 20 years now, and still does today. It gives him great pleasure to have that part, throttle cable, or kill switch that failed on a racers outfit, and get them back on the water for the next heat.

With a career winding down, Rick raced ASH and 25SSH at the Toronto Outboard Racing Club’s 60th anniversary event in Gravenhurst in 2012. Turned out that was his last full year on the racing circuit. In 2013 he was proud and very happy to be able to run his still pristine 1977 BSH “Green Slime” in the John Webster Memorial race at Gravenhurst also. This was the 41st anniversary of Rick’s CBF career.

In 2013 Rick had eye surgery at the beginning of the season and let me race his 25 Hydro for the season. As always, he had the fastest equipment. I won every race we started. Dunnville, the one race I didn’t start, and kept me from my first ever perfect season, was cut short by a crew chief error. Rick was still adjusting to his eyes, and when installing the throttle cable, he missed the bracket the cable clamps into. It functioned fine on shore, but under vibration on the water it would slip back and quit. I never made the start line. But we always had a positive outlook on things, we just had a laugh, a pat on the back, and carried on winning. But taking the Championship in style like that, Rick figured maybe it was time to retire. At 69 years old he had very few regrets, and still wins through his boys victories, they are family victories.

So there is a recap of some highlights, there are many others… I’d now like you all to help me congratulate and welcome Rick Fralick up to be inducted to the CBF HOF.

 

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