Frank Duane Albert, a motor sports veteran who was a mainstay at Northern California sprint car races, died July 23 of lung cancer, his family said. He was 69.
Mr. Albert was an auto mechanic for more than 50 years, mostly in the trucking industry. He was the fleet maintenance supervisor at KAG West, a tank truck hauler in West Sacramento, since 1992. He previously spent 17 years as shop supervisor for Peters Truck Lines.
He started racing during his early years in Eureka, where he rebuilt and drove a 1954 Chevy-powered Ford pickup at a local drag strip. He also raced midget cars, sprint cars, modified stock cars and supercar modifieds. He served as president of the Humboldt Timing Association at the Samoa Drag Strip.
After moving to Sacramento, he volunteered his mechanic skills in the pit at Northern Auto Racing Club contests at Calistoga Speedway and West Capital Raceway in West Sacramento. He was named outstanding pitman for the champion car raced by Richard Wyrsch at West Capital in 1972.
Mr. Albert later started a business he called a "race car parts store on wheels." With his wife and son, he drove a trailer stocked with auto parts, fuel and tires to sprint car contests throughout Northern California. Besides selling supplies, he gave away countless hours of free mechanic help and advice.
"He did it just because he enjoyed it," said his wife, Barbara. "He loved all the friendships he made at races. The customers became our friends."
Mr. Albert was recognized for his contributions to auto racing. In 2005, he received the Motor Sports Press Association's top honor, the Gordon Martin Award for lifetime achievement. He was honored by the Northern Auto Racing Club in 1987 and was inducted into the West Capital Raceway Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Born in Sacramento in 1942, Mr. Albert moved with his family to Fields Landing, a coastal town near Eureka. His parents, Robert and Ida Albert, owned and operated a commercial fishing boat and a motel and crab stand on Highway 101.
He became an Eagle Scout at 13 and interned as a mechanic at a local Ford dealership before graduating from Eureka Senior High School in 1960. He worked at service stations and was a service manager for a Goodyear tire retailer before settling in Sacramento in 1967.
He married the former Barbara Bush in 1961 and had two children. He hunted pheasant in the Clarksburg area and during a trip to Montana.
Mr. Albert was a friendly, unassuming man who spent weekends at auto races, racers' swap meets and car shows. He enjoyed attending the Fortuna Autorama show in Ferndale and Hot August Nights in Reno. He had many close friends from childhood and attended his 50th high school reunion in Eureka.
"He said three things were important to him: family, work and racing, in that order unless it was a racing day," his wife said. "He always had a great sense of humor."