Earl V. Fridley

Who Changed his Family Surname to Findley in the 1930s

1900 – 1972

 

Earl Fridley was born on April 4, 1900 at Brunswick, Missouri to Frank Henry Fridley (1875-1950) and his wife, Jessie (Crocker) Fridley (1876-?).  His family moved to the Fridley family farm southwest of Hope in Dickinson County, Kansas in the early 1900s where Earl grew to manhood.  That 80-acre farm that had been in the Fridley family for at least three generations.

Earl Fridley was married to Rocelia Mae "Dollie" (Dodds) Findley (1906-1969).  They were the parents of four children:  Earlene LaVern (Fridley) Neuway (1925-2014); Virgil E. Fridley (1927-2008); Charles Leroy “Charlie” Fridley (1929-1998) and Fred R. Fridley (1930-2010).

Fridley and his wife moved to Missouri in February of 1924 where Earl took a job in a machine shop.  That apparently did not work out as he had moved back to the farm outside Hope, Kansas by May of that same year.

Fridley was arrested on several occasions for passing bad checks.  On one such occasion in July of 1924, the Dickenson County, Kansas Undersheriff had gone to the Fridley farm to arrest Earl.  Earl’s mother picked up a pitchfork and told the Undersheriff that Earl would turn himself in the next day; but not right then.  The Undersheriff grabbed the pitchfork away from Jessie Fridley and took Earl back to Abilene, Kansas with him.

           Earl Fridley traded the Fridley family farm at Hope, Kansas in the summer of 1925 for a garage in Mound Valley, Kansas where he could work as an automobile mechanic.

The following is Earl Fridley’s incomplete race driving record.

 

October 28, 1922 – ½ mile dirt oval – Kansas Free Fairgrounds in Topeka, Kansas

Finish:  Although Fridley entered these races, his name does not appear in the published results indicating that he did not finish in the money.

Feature race winner:  Glenn Royer of Council Grove, Kansas in a Buick owned by Ernest “E.C.” Miller who was also from Council Grove.

 

September, 1923 – ½ mile dirt oval – Forest Park in Ottawa, Kansas

Finish:  Fridley won the feature race.

Feature race winner:  Earl V. Fridley of Hope, Kansas.

 

October 9, 1924 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

Car:  Fridley’s own Ford special #11.

Finish:  Although Fridley entered these races, his name does not appear in the published results indicating that he did not finish in the money.

Feature race winner:  Harold Roller of Abilene, Kansas who was driving his own Fronty Ford #7.

 

August, 1926 – a dirt racetrack in Iowa, the name and exact location of which is unknown

Finish:  The results of these races have yet to be located.

 

September 3, 1926 – ½ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds at Belleville, Kansas

Car:  Earl Fridley entered his own Fridley special for Max Ryan of Formosa, Kansas to drive plus a Chevrolet for Fridley himself to drive.

Finish:  Max Ryan won the 2nd heat race, finishing in front of Charles Gibbs of Topeka, Kansas who was driving a Keene Saxon.  Fridley’s name does not appear as a driver in the published results indicating that he did not finish in the money.

Feature race winner:  Pat Cunningham of St. Joseph, Missouri who was driving car #X-3 owned by the Lawhon Brothers (George & Ernie) of St. Joseph, Missouri.

Lee Hillery of Winona, Kansas, driving Leo Cecil Wright’s Wright special #99 (on the outside) is seen here slowly gaining on Fridley who was driving his own Chevrolet special #17 during a race at Oakley, Kansas on July 4, 1928.

Oakes photo from the Hillery family collection

 

 

July 4, 1927 – ½ mile dirt oval – Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds at Davenport, Iowa – Sanctioned by the Mississippi Valley Racing Association (M.V.R.A.)

Attendance:  3,700

Finish:  Although Fridley entered these races, his name does not appear in the published results indicating that he did not finish in the money.*

Feature race winner:  Gus Schrader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the Boyle Valve #1

 

July 4, 1928 – 1 mile dirt oval – American Legion Racetrack at the southwest edge of Oakley, Kansas

Car:  Fridley entered his own Chevrolet special #17.**

Finish:  Fridley ran the 6th fastest time trial of the 7 cars that participated in time trials.  His time for the distance was 57.6 seconds which was slower than the times turned in by Bill Epps of Oakley who was driving the P.E.B. special #44 owned by brothers Pierre & Ernie Bertrand; _____ Barch of WaKeeney, Kansas who was driving a Ford Frontenac #7 owned by Walter Frank Krhut of Collyer, Kansas; C. R. Hoag of Denver Colorado who was driving a Hinton special #11 owned by William Hinton who was also from Denver; Lee Hillery of Winona, Kansas who was driving the Wright special #99 that was owned by Leo Cecil Wright of Russell Springs, Kansas and Leslie “Speck” Neff of Winona, Kansas who was driving a Chevrolet Roof special #13 that was owned by John W. Neff who was also from Winona.

            Fridley was credited with last place in the 10-lap heat race after he dropped out of the 6-car race after having completed only 4 laps.  That race was won by Bill Epps of Oakley who was driving the P.E.B. special #44 owned by brothers Pierre & Ernie Bertrand.

            Fridley was credited with 5th place finish in the 6-car, 25-mile feature race after he dropped out of that race having completed only 16 laps.

Feature race winner:  C. R. Hoag of Denver Colorado who was driving a Hinton special #11 owned by William Hinton who was also from Denver.

 

July 28, 1928 – ½ mile dirt oval – Cowley County Fairgrounds at Winfield, Kansas

Car:  Fridley entered his own Fridley special #11.

Finish:  Although Fridley entered these races, he did not complete time trials and his name does not appear in the published results indicating that he either wrecked or suffered mechanical trouble and did not finish in the money.

Feature race winner:  James F. Pickens of Arkansas City, Kansas who was driving a Ford special #440 owned by Joe Hutchinson of Arkansas City, Kansas.

 

Earl Fridley decided that changing the family’s last name might change their luck (although some suggest that it had more to do with the numerous bad checks that he had written) so Earl changed the family surname to “Findley” sometime in the 1930s.  Although their birth certificates were not changed, Earl’s wife and children embraced the new surname and changed their names to Findley as well.

Findley moved his family to Bushton, Kansas c1945 where he founded the Farmers’ Friend Cable Hoist Company.  He then moved his family to Burrton, Kansas in 1949 where he became a gas and oil pipeline welder.  With sons Virgil and Fred, he founded the E. V. Findley & Sons Construction Company at Burrton, Kansas in the late 1940s.

Findley had moved his family to Hutchinson, Kansas by 1950 and he passed away in April of 1972 at Burrton, Kansas.  He is buried beside his wife in the Burrton Cemetery.  Earl V. Findley’s middle name is thought to have been “Virgil”, but that remains unproven at this time.

If you know anything more about Earl V. Fridley, or his involvement in auto racing, please contact Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net

 

 

* The Quad-City Times newspaper of Davenport, Iowa referred to Fridley as “R. Fridley of Salina, Kansas” but an extensive search of the Salina area has failed to turn up anyone else named Fridley who drove racing cars in that era.

 

** The Oakley Graphic newspaper referred to Fridley as “Bob Fridley of Salina, Kansas” but an extensive search of the Salina area has failed to turn up anyone else named Fridley who drove racing cars in that era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You:

Vergi Geurian