Six-day racing in California had a slow start with a lonely six-day race taking place in San Francisco in 1917. The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam spawned a renewed interest in cycling for those young cyclists who had Olympic aspirations for Los Angeles in 1932. Freddie Schultz, from Huntington Park was one of those young riders who saw bicycle racing as a way to have fun and perhaps become a professional. Schultz was part of a group of Southern California riders from the Los Angeles area who were fast and furious on the track. Other riders included Russell Allen (Huntington Park), Geary May (Hollywood), Neil Davidson (Los Angeles), Bus Parker (Long Beach), George Antrobus (Los Angeles), and Eddie Testa (Los Angeles).
Freddie Schultz in 2001
Both Freddie Schultz and his close riding buddy Russell Allen attended Huntington Park High School, where they got their start on the track, honing their bike handling and racing skills. Freddie competed for Huntington Park H.S. in the Southern California and California State Championships as well as locally organized event in the Los Angeles area.
In those early formative days, the racer Geary May was a role model for these young men. May had won the California State Championships in 1924, the competitive Los Angeles Championships in 1925 and the USA National Championships in 1927. Schultz was also mentored by Bobby Walthour II and would stay at the Walthour's home in Nutley New Jersey when riding races in Nutley and at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In 1932 at 17 years old Freddie Schultz was already an accomplished carded amateur bicycle racer. Freddie got his first major recognition when he raced in the San Diego 5000 mile Bike Race held at the Navy track Field. He was part of a three man team that included Willie Austin, Geary May and Schultz. They performed very well there being in the top three teams for most of the competition.
In 1932 Freddie started the racing season as an amateur but when he turned 18 he became a professional (W.C.A. License 0427). In November of '32 Freddie competed in his first professional six-day race, the Los Angeles Six held November 14-20, 1932 at the Winter Garden Auditorium, not far from his home. He was partnered with George Antrobus and finished in sixth place. A few months later in January 1933 Freddie again raced at the Winter Garden Auditorium and came in 4th place partnering with his mentor Geary May. We have referred to this as the Missing LA 6-day Race because it did not make it into the historical statistical information list. There are several six-day racing internet databases: Memoire du Cyclisme from France and Bernd Buslapp's Sechstagerennen website as well as Dutch 6-day historian, Jacq Van Reijendam from Breda, Netherlands who publishes an annual 6 Daagsen Statistieken yearbook. We will ensure that this 6-day race is not lost anymore.
Throughout his racing career Freddie Schultz raced in 8 six day races: four in Los Angeles in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1937, two in San Francisco in 1934 and 1937, one in Louisville 1935 and one in Vancouver 1934.
6-day racing is not sport for a fragile person as there are many crashes. In one race Freddie was partnered with his lifelong friend Russell Allen who was involved in a terrible crash. A 10" wooden splinter went through his ankle and he had to go to the hospital. Schultz rode for 17 hours awaiting the valiant return of Allen. The injury was so severe though, Russell had to eventually abandon the event, ending up in a Hollywood hospital fighting an infection.
On the six-day racing circuit Freddie was known for his sprinting ability (he was known to fly like a rocket on the bell lap) and while he never won a professional six-day race he did win a lot of sprint/prime money. At that time, the Madison was conducted with a push from the buttock, not with a hand sling as it is done today. Because of his height, 6' 3" it was difficult for him to find a partner. He had the longest legs of all the six-day racers and was often described as a "giant". At times he was partnered with racers who were short in stature like Jakie Gruber, thus making the push from the rear a bit difficult. A good example of the push can be seen in the Vancouver Six-Day Bike Race poster that shows Freddie pushing his partner Fred Wagner.
In 1934 Schultz rode in the Vancouver Six-Day race held from September 17-22. This was the third six-day race Schultz had participated in, in six months. The race was won by Eddie Testa/Cecil Yates (USA), Polly Parrott/Frank Turano (USA) were second and Jack McCoy/Henry "Cocky" O'Brien were third. Schultz had to abandon the race on day six when he seriously cut his hand braking his bike. In personal correspondence with Freddie's daughter Marilyn, she mentioned that the Vancouver race was very special for her father. The original poster, now framed, can be found on her living room wall.
An interesting story, associated with the Vancouver 6-day, occurred when one of the California 6-day riders found a Vancouver Fire Department helmet under the stands at the arena and brought it home as a souvenir. Marilyn Schultz noted that somehow the helmet ended up in her father's machine shop and sat on a shelf for 50 years until Marilyn met a Vancouver fireman on vacation in Carmel, California. His name was George Shepherd and his father was a retired Fire Chief. Marilyn sent the helmet back to Vancouver where it was reunited with its original owner. His family was tickled to receive the old style black leather helmet with the Vancouver Fire Dept. shield on the front.
Freddie Schultz was a life long cyclist. Fellow riders marveled at his ability to effortlessly climb the steepest hill. He had perfect positioning on his bike, his style was described as "poetry in motion". At sixty plus years he rode the first "Death Ride" in Markleeville California, a 1000 mile tour of the Sierras, averaging 100 miles per day over a 10-day period. Freddie was also a charter member of the infamous "Como Street" riders who would met in Irvine California, every Sunday morning for decades. It was an informal training ride for most of the good riders coming out of Southern California. Como Street was named after a nearby railroad stop in the 1930's and 40's.
Freddie Schultz continued to ride his bike seriously until six-months before his death in 2002 at the age of 88. Earlier that year he could still be seen riding 35 miles a day with his cycling buddies, on his handmade custom built "Simo Cycle", a road bike built by Giam Simonetti.