Right after World War II, as the Cold War was heating up, interest in rockets by the American public ramped up immeasurably. We had seen the German V1 and V2's, we had watched as Chuck Yeager flew the X-15 at unthinkable speeds, and we would soon be immersed in worry when the Russians put a satellite into orbit before we were capable. This interst in rockets inspired Oldsmobile to use the term Rocket 88 with its cars, and many local stock car drivers would get in in that act, numbering many cars as #88 and often using pictures of rockets on the sides. Some went so far as to have tin "rockets" mounted on the racer's roof. This page looks at some of those rocket cars [that would be considered corny in today's jaded racing world].


LaQuerre Family Photo
Possibly with a young Joey LaQuerre seated inside, the Armand LaQuerre Rocket 88 is recorded for posterity by a family photographer. The car would
have raced at early venues like the local East Montpelier track, at Northfield, VT, and possibly tracks like Morrisville or Webster Flats, Lyndonville. Note
the actual rocket on the roof of this bad boy.

Photo  via Rob Davis
Very likely, LaQuerre had muscular Barre granite cutter Norm Chaloux drive the Rocket 88.



Bob McDowell Photo via Phil Miller
Leo Nadeau was from either Massachusetts or New York. He ran a wide variety of tracks such as Pine Bowl, Pico, Schuylerville, and Stateline.
This is the best shot of man himself that I could find.

Brooks Family 8MM via Bud Brooks
Leo Nadeau, at speed, at the old Fairmont Park Motor Speedway in 1950.

Hoffer Family 8MM via Ron Hoffer
Leo Nadeau at the Hudson River Speedway in Schuylerville, NY. Likely, 1951.

From Dan Ody's 8MM
Old Speedways DVD's

Leo Nadeau, at speed, at the Stateline Speedway
in the early 1950's.

From Dan Ody's 8MM
Old Speedways DVD's

This might be Leo in troouble at the Stateline Speedway in the early 1950's.

LeFrancois Family Photo
via Jerry King Collection

The Rocket 88 is seen, in the front of the infield at far left, at Pico Raceway in 1952.



From Bouvrette Speedway 8MM Film via the LaBreche Family
This young man's car at St. Jerome, Quebec's grand old Bouvrette Speedway bears evidence that even Canadians were aware of the Sputnik
satellite launched in 1957. I'm not sure what the goat has to do with it.


George Lombardo

Shany Lorenzet Photo via Dave Dykes
George Lombardo drove for dozens of teams in his career at southern New England tracks. This happened to fill our bill.

Shany Lorenzet Photo via Dave Dykes
George Lombardo portrait, early Cromwell helmet and all.


Pete Brockett

West Haven Speedway Site Photo
A more modern car, Pete Brockett's rocket on his West Haven Speedway car was probably more a
function of rhyming his name than with anything else.

New England Modified Site Photo


The Rutledge Rocket 

YesterdaySpeedways.com Photo
John Clapham stands with the highly - unusual Rutledge Rocket. I wish I knew more about it. I THINK it was Canadian, very radical in design,
and ran mostly out Western NY / Ontario way. I once saw a photo of Clapham, sitting in thecar, psyching up for a qualifying run. I
sure wish I had been doing this work then; would have grabbed it. Obviously this in not post WWII stuff here. I believe the Rutledge group
was active in other speed activities besides stock car racing - most notably supermodifieds.

Photo Source Unknown
I would gather this was not an unfamiliar sight in those days. The car was probably almost a supermod inside a Corvair body. Look where he sits.


Marv Inman 

Photo Source Unknown
Marv Inman drove this sedan at Manahawkin Speedway. His life was around the Atlantic shore as a bayman in New Jersey.
 I have yet to figure out why so many early '50's teams used this exact number, but the rocket reference is unmistakable.


Frank Ellinger

Photo Source Unknown
Frank Ellinger is clearly another rocket man. I know absolutely nothing else about him.


Ken St. John

Courtesy of Neal Davis
Ken St. John, with a flathead at Bear Ridge Speedway. Obviously car weight was not an issue there.


Burns and Wilson 100

Courtesy of Rick Parry
The familiar NY team of Burns and Wilson fielded this one for Bernie Ingersoll at Midstate Speedway.


Rene Charland

Courtesy of John Chris Grady
Da Champ, Rene Charland - with a car I know nothing about.


Buck Baker

Photo Source: Indy Big John
Even the famed Elzie Wylie "Buck" Baker got in on the act - in 1954.

Photo Source Unknown
Early 1970's portrait.


Jerry "The Rutland Rocket" King

Jerry King Collection
Jerry King earned the nickname "The Rutland Rocket" running this car at Stateline Speedway in the 1950's.


Mystery Rocket Cars


Courtesy of Shelley Reid



Bob Mackey Photo Courtesy of Mike Watts, Sr.

Airborne Park Speedway had an X-15 in the early days, but I don't know who owned it.

John Grady Photo Courtesy of Dave Dykes

Joe Poleski, at Eastern States Expo. These cars honored the sound barrier - breaking X-15 rocket plane.

Bob Mackey Photo Courtesy of Mike Watts, Sr.

Herb Corse, with his X-15 in the early days. It is likely at Dog River Speedway, Northfield, VT.


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