Charles Loren “Fearless” Fondoble
1907 – 1996
Loren Fondoble at right above, is pictured here with his car and his pit crew. He was a prominent early automobile racer who lived in a number of places in Kansas including Palco, Ogallah, Arkansas City, and Wichita before moving to Washburn, Missouri where he was residing when he passed away. He was listed in Who's Who in Auto Racing in 1937.
Roy Eaton collection
Loren Fondoble, right, at the garage behind his home on South Sycamore Street in Wichita, Kansas. The man at left was Fondoble’s next-door neighbor, Tandy – Swart family collection
Loren Fondoble raced his #10 Ford Riley with I.M.C.A. from the 1930s until he retired from the sport around 1950. The following obituary was written by Loren’s close friend, Emmett Carpenter, and was published in National Speed Sport News:
Charles Loren Fondoble was born April 24, 1907 at Ogallah, Kansas. He started racing at an early age in a home-made Model-T Ford with a 16-valve Laurel Roof head. He had good success with his driving the No. 77 although handicapped by the head which was unreliable.
When the Riley head came out for the Model A, he obtained one of the first four ports, building a new chassis, No. 10, to house it. He started with a Model B Ford block but later switched to the Funk Airplane block which was patterned after a Model B Ford but with pressure oiling.
Fondoble ran the Riley successfully in the Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Missouri area against such drivers as Mike Salay, Harry West, the Musick brothers, Everett Saylor, and the I.M.C.A. regulars.
Fondoble reworked the car after World War II and, while it was apart, drove for the Swart brothers in their Schofield which was very fast. He was tagged with the nickname “Fearless” at that time and, although he always blamed this writer for it, I suspect the culprit was really Bill Swart, who tagged me with the nickname “Bullet” Carpenter at Dodge City in 1934.
Fondoble finally got the Riley running until it broke a rod at Ft. Smith and put a hole the size of a Stetson through the block. He had a 700-acre farm in western Missouri so he parked the car there under a tree where it rusted away for 35 years.
I recall going to Belleville with him in the Fall of 1947 where he ran third to Mike Salay in the Frankland Stagger Valve and Harry West in the Murray (Earl) Dreyer. That night, we drove to Pueblo and he kept nodding off to sleep while driving his tow car. I was following and would blow the horn to wake him up.
He ran second the next day at the Pueblo Fairgrounds. We left the car at a local garage and went up to the Halfway Campground on Pikes Peak to get a good spot to watch the hill climb the next day. Fondoble was worried about sleeping out there with all of the money he had won so we tilted a good-sized boulder and held it back while my wife put the money under it in a sack, and we slept there. Man, was it ever cold. If memory serves me correctly, Unser won the climb in a car owned by Russ Snowberger.
Fondoble later turned to farming in Missouri where he raised cattle and, for a while, orchids. He recently suffered several heart problems and passed away on October 29th. Burial was in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.
Loren Fondoble was married to Dagmar Elizabeth Lettow in Carroll County, Arkansas on August 15, 1949. The couple is buried in the Antioch Cemetery 1˝ miles north of the town of Jacket in McDonald County, Missouri.
This photo of Loren Fondoble in his Model-T Ford #77 equipped with a Laurel Roof head, was taken at Dodge City, Kansas c1930 – Lehman collection
“KANSAN TO RACE HERE – Shown above, making a final check of the engine of his racer before a recent Midwest meet, is Loren Fondoble. Fondoble, veteran dirt track driver from Wichita, Kans., has notified local speed officials he will compete with his Cragar Special in the second annual championship auto races to be held here on the State Fair track, Sunday, June 15.”
I.M.C.A. publicity photo as published with caption on page 8 of the May 29, 1947 issue of the Lincoln (Nebraska) Star newspaper
#10 Loren Fondoble in his own red Cragar special at Belleville, Kansas in August of 1946. This car was also called the “Sunflower Special” in races sanctioned by I.M.C.A. – Jack Earle collection
To view an incomplete listing of the races entered by Charles Loren Fondoble