Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Writer Goes the Distance for Biography of Tulsa's Jack Zink

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Writer Goes the Distance for Biography of Tulsa's Jack Zink

Article excerpt

Bob Blackburn got to know Jack Zink in 2001 when Blackburn, looking for interesting exhibits for the new Oklahoma History Center, needed to fill an area devoted to sports and decided it needed a racecar - and not just any racecar.

All of Blackburn's sports friends pointed him in the same direction: Tulsa's Jack Zink.

A call to Zink's ranch west of Tulsa resulted in a two-hour meeting at the Faculty Club in Oklahoma City, which netted Blackburn a four-wheeling tour of the ranch in the Osage Hills where Zink let him drive.

It launched a friendship as the two worked their way through the research that resulted in the Zink exhibit at the museum.

It also set Blackburn on the path that would result in more research at Zink's ranch, in newspaper archives and in Indianapolis, where Blackburn was privy to archival materials and photos highlighting the exploits of the Zink Racing Team. Coupled with many more interviews, Blackburn's work culminated in his To Indy and Beyond: The Life of Racing Legend Jack Zink.

Blackburn's research revealed that Zink built his first vehicle, a wooden car powered by a two-horsepower engine, at age 13. Zink started building custom midget racers while a senior in high school. Studying engineering at what is now Oklahoma State University, he continued to build and drive racecars. He raced his first stock car in 1950. He continued his racing career while working for his father's John Zink Co., which built custom-engineered incinerators, burners and other combustion equipment.

John Zink backed his son's racing passion, with the understanding that Jack would not be at the wheel of any of the high-powered racers. In 1955, the John Zink Special won the Indianapolis 500. Jack, who headed up the Zink Racing Team, was only 26 years old. The team repeated the feat the next year, when a new version of the car took the checkered flag at Indy.

The Zink team competed at Indy for several more years, but focused its attention more on the developing NASCAR circuit. …

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