Thread: Profile... George Freeman
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Old 04-16-2009, 05:17 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Lakewood, Colorado
Age: 55
Posts: 1,063
Post George Freeman

It was a warm Sunday afternoon when I caught up with George Freeman. And what was he doing, but some minor machining as he modified the throttle linkage for his current project, a 1926 Ford Model T.

George Freeman is one of the grand gentlemen of Denver’s auto racing history. He’s been a “car guy” for just about all his life. Growing up in North Denver he was introduced to auto racing by his uncle Charlie Freeman who took George to his first race at Overland Park when still just a youngster. He’s been playing with cars ever since, including a ’26 T when still a kid. By 1938 he was getting involved with midget race cars. Following a stint in the navy during WW II George took up again with midgets, but also built track roadsters with the new Colorado Auto Racing Club. George served on the Board of Directors, the Safety Committee, and Technical Committee with the CARC in addition to President and two terms as Vice President.

George’s contribution to racing was primarily as a car owner/builder, and limited his driving to occasional warm up laps. His automotive world extended to his profession as well in an automotive service business. George and partners named Joe and Gene spent 30 years in that business at 14th and Santa Fe, in Denver.

In between building race cars, George also built a few houses in a growing Denver, and today continues to live in a house that he built.

Here’s some automotive history that not many know about; George also manufactured a unique piece of speed equipment, the Freeman/Groth/Stefarri, or FGS, two piece intake manifold for Ford Flatheads. Wonder if any of those are still around.

George admits to not remembering dates very well, so some of the years noted are best guesses.

One of George’s early race car adventures was in 1939 as a team member of Buddy Martinson, owner and driver of a #6 V8-60 midget that Ernie Barkley built for him. This combination was pretty successful as they ventured out to Atlantic Speedway in Southern California where Buddy showed the west coast guys the way to the finish line. George himself then built a V8-60 midget for Orville (O.J.) Dunklee and Myron Spencer that was driven by Tommy Rice.

George preferred the #24 for his cars, but early on, that number was already in use, so he used the #14x. This was at first on track roadsters that he built from T roadster bodies. George’s roadsters looked good, ran well, and he had good drivers, including Bob Russell (one of the racing Russell Brothers) and Tommy Rice.

In 1950, the CARC ran both roadsters and stock cars at Englewood Speedway, and George had cars in both classes. This 1933 Ford is probably the car listed in the 1950 CARC program. This 3 window coupe was red and yellow, as were most of George’s cars. Harold Gilbert (who often drove under the name Charlie Brock so his parents wouldn’t find out) is shown after winning the A dash.

During the 1951 season, George fielded two cars with the CARC at Englewood. George bought this #28 coupe from Ralph Acierno. Bobby Wallace was the driver. Wearing their #24 club jackets, L to R are; Joe Choate, Bobby Wallace, and George Freeman.

Glen majors drove this version of George’s #24 at Englewood Speedway during the 1951 season. You can just see the front of the #28 “WHITE CROSS Insurance” sponsored car behind #24.

The CARC moved to the paved fifth mile oval at Lakeside Speedway beginning in 1952. George didn’t have a 1952 photo in his scrapbook, but I’ve come up with this somewhat fuzzy copy, showing George’s #24, now a 5 window coupe. Norm Engblom was listed as the driver. Shown getting a little sideways in turn four, maybe with a little help from a couple of cars including the #12 of Pee Wee Sullivan.

This new 1953 red and yellow ’34 coupe, with a ’37 engine, was featured in the July 19th CARC Official Program. Look how cherry this car is – still has the door handle in place. Fenders continued to be in place, but trimmed for tire clearance. George and his good friend Joe Choate were co-owners, with Charlie Brock as their driver, consistently ran in the “A” class at Lakeside Speedway. This is Charlies’s (really Harold Gilbert) fourth year of racing. The point standings at this date shows them in tenth place, behind a list of drivers that reads like a who’s who of CARC racing. Interestingly enough, this group was also featured again in the next year’s program (1954) using this same photo.

This 1953 skirmish (below) in the south end of the track has Charlie, er Harold, in #24 spinning into the rail, and getting tangled with eventual track champion Keith Lane in #45L. From this rear angle, you can see that the paint scheme George used on the deck somewhat matches the scallop design on the front of the car.

The flagman’s protective barrier took lots of punishment over the years. This time it’s Charlie Brock, and Don Clark in his #6 “Little Monster” ’32 coupe putting it to the test. The two tone scallop paint job on both of these cars was a popular race car scheme during this era. Note that the stock grill and hood sides are no longer in place on #24.

Oops! This time Charlie is testing the guard rail in turn four just about where home plate was on the old ball diamond that first occupied this site. The original announcer’s booth can be seen just above, staffed by the CARC Powder Puffers who played records during intermissions. I’m guessing that George had to straighten a few things out before the next race.

Note that the rear bumper has been reduced in size. During the 1953 CARC awards banquet this team of George, Joe, and Harold was recognized for their perfect attendance.

By 1954, the CARC no longer required fenders as can be seen here. Still sponsored by Superior Tire, but now showing a different phone number. Bill Jones was now the driver. L to R; Joe Choate, Bill Jones, and Keith Deems (pitman).

George and Joe debuted a new car for 1955, this sharp two toned ’34 Ford 3 window coupe. Bill Jones was again the driver. They would field a car one more year, 1956, with Ralph Acierno listed as the driver.

Superior Tire Service on Morrison Road was George and Joe’s long time sponsor, up through their last year at Lakeside, 1956. This early season 1955 photo shows a clean F-100 company pickup that George and Joe used to sell re-cap slicks at the track for Superior. On race night these guys were busy! Just behind the hood of this truck can be seen the Lehrer’s Flowers sponsored #1 of Norm Engblom.

Once a car guy, always a car guy, and George is no different. He continues to dabble with things automotive and still meets with others from the good old days during their weekly breakfast get-togethers, where the stories of those days never end.

- Written by Bill Peratt
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