How did you end up building a Hydrogen Peroxide Rocket Go Kart?
A short time after I crashed that Z16 I received a call from Joey Chitwood Sr. he said his truck driver had quit and was wondering if I would be interested in driving his truck that hauled his equipment for his thrill show around the country to county fairs. Well I didn’t have anything else to do so I took his offer, and went on the road. A few weeks later I started doing precision stunt driving in the show. That wasn’t long after that I started crashing motorcycles through what we called a wall of fire. I did that for some time. Then I started racing Go Karts again. We had big race at St Petersburg Florida I saw a guy that had what was called an adjustable expansion chamber that he used for his exhaust system on his Go Kart, that help produce more torque at different RPM. I ordered a kit from this guy for my Kart that needed to be welded together. So I went over to Big Daddy, Don Garlits shop to have him weld it together for me.
He told me he didn’t have time. But he told me he knew a good welder that would have no trouble welding it by the name of Glen Blakely So I went to his shop and we started talking about my Turbonique Go Kart. And he said he would build me a go-kart.
I was going to buy a hydrogen Peroxide motor from Dick Keller But one day I was at Tampa Speed way standing there talking to a bunch of racers when the racing announcer saw me and said over the P.A. system. See that guy standing there that’s Captain Jack he going to build a Hydrogen Peroxide Rocket Powered Go Kart that’s going to go over 200 mph. This guy by the name of Orville Porter came running over to me, and almost talked me and shouted out I already have a thousand pound thrust hydrogen peroxide motor I will sell you, so Orville sent me a picture of it, and I bought his rocket motor immediately.
Soon after that Glen got work and built me my Hydrogen Peroxide Kart. He built the frame out of 4130 chrome molly tubing Glen also built the fairings over the tanks and two adjustable canards on the front of the Kart To give it a streamlined look and to help keep it on the ground, It took about 4 weeks to get it build.
Jack when was the first time you drove the Peroxide Kart?
Glen Blakely and I took the Kart to sunshine speedway in Clearwater Florida A friend of mine told me he was worried that I would get sucked right off kart at high speed So I ran the kart without the body panels. And we put the canards at a steep angle to hold it down on the track at high speed.
Tom Jones the track manger and Fred Sibley where also there to give us a hand. The first run I made I shut off early the thing went 170 mph. The track was right next to a horse ranch and there was a white horse that had his head through the wooden fence he tore the fence down and stampeded the rest of the horses. Because of all the noise the rocket made.
I called Larry Carrier the owner of Rockingham raceway he said oh I remember you, but if you’re looking to get booked into the track for the upcoming race season, I already spent my money for year. I said no I would like to come out and run Rocket Kart for nothing Fred Sibley gave me a seven-foot ribbon parachute so I wanted to test that, and get some exposure and hopefully you would book me track next year.
When I got to the track I saw that there was allot of big name racers there, including John Paxton with the Courage of Australia Rocket Car. All of a sudden they started advertising over the PA we had a Go Kart that can go over 200 mph. Some those there hillbillies started laughing when they heard that. Larry came over to me and said don’t hurt yourself now, and you make sure you shut off that thing off early. As soon as I did a burn out on the line with rocket, those hillbillies quit laughing.
It was so quite you could hear a pin drop. I made my run and shut the rocket off early and still went 170mph the crowd went wild, they had never seen anything like that before. Larry ended up booking me about 15 times that year. On his other IHRA Sanctioned tracks.
The next place I ran was at The Empire Drag way in New York, I had never see a track as smooth as that track I planned ongoing 170mph again so I lifted the throttle and hit it one more time. The run felt fast so I was anxious to get my time card I could not believe my eyes when I read it 215mph in 6 seconds in fact I went quicker then Shirley Muldowney that day.
After the race my wife and I went to a party at Carl Moors beautiful home. Carl was the chairman of the board of IHRA. There were a number of professional drag racers there. My Wife had a few too many drinks. She really liked her Scotch. Anyways she and I were standing together when Richard Thorp came over to us and said I want to drive that Go Kart. My wife said you don’t have the balls to drive that Kart. All of a sudden Richard pulled his pants down. The place was packed. We all soon found out Richard Thorp didn’t have any underwear on.
Well my wife she was just a little gal and she kept on drinking Scotch when she went into the bath room she locked the door but when she tried to leave she count unlock the door. So she started beating the door down well so I thought we had better go back to the Motel before she got into any more trouble. That turn out to be a big mistake because she was done raising hell when she got the Motel she took her frustrations on fire extinguisher that was in a glass case on the wall with her fist, well the glass broke and she severally cut her hand. So now we ended up going to the emergency room at the hospital her hand was bleeding real badly. After about a half hour I saw a Doctor walking down the hall so ran down there grabbed a hold of him and dragged him down to where my wife was. It seems the Doctor didn’t appreciate it, so he called the Cops, well all of a sudden I get arrested and they hauled me down to jail. They started to take everything out of my pockets and said why are you doing that he said because we are going to jail. And I said what I can’t I have to race my rocket powered go kart tomorrow I can’t go to jail. Just then the Police Captain said, are you Captain Jack McClure? I heard the ads on the radio. I really lucked out they let me go.
The next day we went out to the track and we all had hangovers, especially my wife she was sicker than a dog. Richard Thorp looked at us all and said are ready to let me drive Rocket Kart yet?
Jack did you ever have any trouble with a track promoter?
Well One day Billy Herndon the owner of the local drag strip called me to tell me to come over to his house to meet Ira Leache the promoter of US 30 Drag strip. I told him about my Rocket Powered Go Kart. Ira told me he brings in a number of acts to the track that he calls his freak show Ira went on to say that he had a guy that had a motorized bath tub and he would drive it down the drag strip while taking a bath. I started laughing and told Ira I was no freak show.
Well I talked Ira into hiring me into running at his Drag strip When I got there I found out he also booked in Art Arfons to run against me with his Green Monster Jet Car. I told Ira I can’t run against that Jet it would blow me right off the track. Ira says you have to. We do things a little bit deferent around here. We bet on all the races so you have to run side by side. Just then this big black guy pulls up in a pink Cadillac and gets out wearing an all white suit. And said I came here to make some money. Things started to get real tense Ira said he had spent allot of money promoting a side-by-side race with The Green Monster Jet Car. I told Ira I didn’t feel like getting killed. After all the dust settled we all agreed to make single runs and who ever had the quickest elapsed time would win. I went 213mph on the return road in front of the spectators Big Willie the local drag racing celebrity picket me right out of my Go Kart and put me on his shoulders. The crowd stood up and started screaming, they just went wild. I became their new drag racing hero. I left laughing, and no one got hurt.