Skip to main content

Frank Coon

FRANK COON and JIM TRAVERS are listed together because, professionally, one could hardly be mentioned without the other. Known variously as “The Keck Kids” and “The Rich Kids,” they jointly ran the ultra-successful racing team of sportsman Howard Keck. Already a powerhouse in West Coast midget racing, they arrived at Indianapolis in 1948 with an Emil Diedt-built front-drive car that used several revolutionary innovations such as magnesium wheels (Halibrand) and fuel injection (developed by crew member Stu Hilborn). After top-ten finishes with Jimmy Jackson in 1948 and 1949, the car placed third in the rain-shortened 1950 Indianapolis 500 with Mauri Rose. Ever the innovators, they collaborated with Frank Kurtis on the building of the first of the so-called “roadster,” a nickname given this low-slung creation with an offset engine by its driver, Bill Vukovich. After dropping out with a steering failure while leading the 1952 Indianapolis 500 with nine laps to go, Vukovich bounced back to win in 1953 and 1954. In 1957, two years after the untimely death of Vukovich, the pair formed Traco Engineering, a very successful business that “hopped up” Chevrolets for sprint cars and sports car racing