"DOC" FOLDEN..... DOCTOR OF SPEED
|If you were into racing back in the 30s,
40s, or 50s, you knew at least one of the many famous local
racers, both motorcycle or especially Midgets and Stocks. Names
like Charlie Stewart, Johnny Harris, Joe McCall and others were household
names to those who followed the races at the old Dunbar Fair Grounds.
But this page is about "Doc" Folden, who did it all.
He was at one time in the 30s, the only "expert motorcycle racer"
in the state of WV according to the American Motorcycle Association.
He was ranked 12th in the nation, pretty good for an ole boy
who lived on West Washington Street. Doc was one of those people
who lived his dreams, and not just followed someone else from the
stands. His circle of friends included all of the better known
racers both locally and across the nation. Doc was indeed hell
bent for leather. |
That's Doc third from the right
This 1951 article explains much of
Docs accomplishments. See the large image here
|This is the famous "Nagasaki Nightmare"
that Doc built using a "Harley 74" motorcycle engine.
These midget racers were fast, but about the only safety equipment
used was a helmet. No one used roll bars, which back then,
was considered to be a little less manly. This car had a hand
fuel pump. This means that every time or so around the track,
Doc had to pump the handle to keep fuel going to the carburetor.|
Close up of the Harley engine,
which drove the rear wheels by chain.
|Doc owned a steel fabrication shop in
Kanawha City. This allowed him the luxury of building his cars
and combine business with pleasure. He also built an airplane
there. Doc owned another airplane, a Johnson Rocket. On
January 4, 1955, he was attempting to land at Kanawha Airport when
something went horribly wrong. The plane crashed and Doc was
killed. There was really no official explanation, but those
in the know said it probably had something to do with a serious down-draft
|I may in the future, feature other well
known racers of the day. But for right now, I wanted to
remember Doc Folden, a man who's life was cut far too short.... but
doing what he loved most: Moving very fast as often as possible.|
Some photos courtesy of Richard Folden & John
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