01 Nov VALE FRANK CECCHELE
The WA Sporting Club is mourning the passing of Life Member Frank Cecchele. This following words are provided by his close friend and long time member, Gordon Mitchell.
Frank has been a member of the WASCC since the mid to late 1950s which was shortly after he immigrated from Padova, Northern Italy.
He initially worked at a garage located where Cecchele Motors still stands at Cnr Newcastle and Palmerston Streets, Northbridge and eventually was able to buy the business and gradually turn it into the fine new and used car sales and European car parts and repair specialist business it was best known for.
In the early days, even before the “D” circuit came into use at Caversham, Frank started competing enthusiastically in a Fiat 1100.
Marrying Ester probably lead to his early decision to focus on the race preparation of cars rather than driving them. He made a big impression preparing Alfa Romeos for Gordon Stephenson to drive successfully at Caversham (see picture above – Frank in white overalls talking to Gordon in the LHD Alfa Romeo GTA). The most famous of these was the Alfa Romeo GTA in which Gordon had many a dice with the likes of Stan Starcevich in the black Holden EH S4 and Ted Lisle in the first 1071cc Mini Cooper “S” we got to see race in WA. Frank also fettled the Cooper Climax open wheeler that Gordon drove, but his legend status was well established when Gordon wrote off the Alfa GTA on a tree at the Mt Brown Hill Climb in York. Not deterred by the all aluminium body shell of the GTA which most thought would be unrepairable, Franks set about repairing it and somewhere in the process became the owner of the car which again returned to the track to thrill the crowds. Later came the ex Brian Foley Chesterfield Filter Alfa Romeo GTAm which came with a quadcam Alfa V8 that sounded sensational and which Gordon Stephenson also drove as well as having periods when Neville Cooper and Max Fletcher drove for Frank.
In 1980 Gordon Mitchell struck up an on-track partnership with Frank, using his turbocharged Rover V8 motor in the GTAm and that was followed a couple of years later by the 2 Fiat 131 Abarths and finally the Fiat Uno Turbo that last raced in 2002. That marked the end of racing for Frank after decades of entering and preparing some of the best and most unusual Italian cars that the WA race fans could ever expect to see racing on our tracks. Frank’s cars usually finished at the pointy end and his race tuning and preparation was always impeccable enhancing his reputation to almost legendary status that few others have able to match.
Over the years Frank’s cars have won many State Championships, Torque Trophies and Gold Stars and he was eventually made a Life Member of the WASCC in recognition not only of that, but also his long term sponsorship of the Club by buying the naming rights for the Cecchele Motors Esses for close to 20 years.
After an incredible 60 years of operating Cecchele Motors from the same site, Frank is survived by his wife Ester, his daughters, Gia, Laura and Anna and his sons Steven and David.