Rocket Man “Capt” Jack McClure

Updated: Jan 21

This completely insane man and his tiny machines got the crowds attention, the infamous Captain Jack would jump into a Rocket Powered Go Kart and drive it over 225 mph in the quarter mile! Everyone said this guy was either completely crazy or he had a death wish. Jack was neither of them, Jack was an entertainer and showmen!

In the late 1950s go karts got really big, and McClure dove in head first. McClure said. “I was successful as a racer and developed a friendship with Mickey Rupp. I sold the karts and eventually became the distributor for Rupp karts in the South.” At the time racing karts with twin engines were the kart to have. McClure decided to run his twin engine kart at drag strip to see what kind of times it would run. His first drag kart was a twin engine comp kart that was modified and it ran 100mph in the quarter. The next Evolution would be a four engine kart that would achieve 125 mph in the quarter mile. After running the quad engine kart for a time, McClure heard about a Company down in Florida selling compact rocket engines.

McClure's rocket ran standard racing go kart tires. Rears tires were tubeless and on 6″ rims, the fronts were tubed on 4″ rims. It only had rear brakes and stopping was aided by a 5′ Deist drag chute that was built for Bonneville motorcycles. His first rocket motor was a 1000lb thrust but was soon replaced with a 1500lb thrust motor that he would run on the kart until McClure sold it in 1973. This whole completely ludicrous Machine with McClure in the seat weighted around 450lbs.

The kart went 220mph in the quarter. Those tiny tires were spinning probably around 10-12,000 rpm!

This little beast would eat around 70lbs of 90% hydrogen peroxide rocket fuel per run and pull over 3 G’s on takeoff!

Capt Jack McClure and the kart was normally the top billing at most of the drag event and he made sure people would remember him and is crazy kart!

-McClure. “We were at a big funny car show at OCIR in 1973,” McClure said. “My friend Ky Michaelson showed up and asked what I was running for fuel pressure. I told him and he said that I should crank it up to really put on a show. I told him that I didn’t have the fuel to do that, but he said we should do it anyway. We did and the kart was quicker than every funny car there.” McClure would run 6.22! and even in 1974, the best Funny Car performance was a 6.23 run! His best mph were in the 220mph range.

Capt Jack was a mighty promoter and was pulling in near $2000 per week at the height of his Racing fame.

He would eventually run as 5.89 in the quarter-mile on his kart at 228 miles per hour, recorded at the famed Beeline Dragway in Arizona back in 1973.

In 2017 Capt Jack at the age of 91 was still strapping into a rocket kart and going down the 1320!

~Blanton Payne

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