The Great Turbonique Myth Uncovered

Back in the early sixties I saw a picture of Captain Jack McClure driving a Turbonique Rocket Powered Go Kart, beating TV Tommy Ivo in his Top Fuel Dragster. I was left with the impression that Jacks Rocket Powered Go Kart was a genuine giant killer, through the years many other people have said to me, did you see that picture of that Go kart beating Ivo?

In March of 2006 While I was attending the Drag Racers Hall Fame Banquet in Gainesville Florida with my wife Jodi, Jim Deist, and Billy Herndon. Billy owned the track, where my rocket car had made a number of exhibition runs in the mid seventies. Billy and I were having a great time talking about the good old racing days. When I asked Billy about the famous Captain Jack, Ivo race. All of a sudden Billy started laughing hysterically. He said Ivo Never forgive him for staging that race. I said you mean Jack was given a head start in that race? Billy said we did it just to give the Go Kart a chance

To beat Ivo but Kart still didn’t win.

Billy went on to say Ivo never did forgive he for that publicity stunt. After the photo showed up in a number of magazines and in Turbonique’s promotional catalogs.

I then started laughing and told Billy Ivo was also at the banquet. So later on in the night.

I saw Ivo and told him to come over to our table. When walked over to our table I said to Ivo, tell me how felt to get beat by a Go Kart? At first he looked confused then he saw Billy sitting at my table. He soon put two and two together, and looked striate at Billy and said you S.O.B. I will never forgive you for that one. So the myth has been busted.

Captain Jack’s Turbonique powered Go Kart never did beat Ivo.

Tommy Ivo’s recollection of racing Jack McClure

What “really” happened at Tampa drag strip all those many years ago in 1964.  Was, that I was making single runs on a paid in appearance, as was Jack McClure doing with the rocket powered  go kart.  So, although the cart wasn’t any kind of a match for my dragster in a quarter mile race, we thought that just for the fun of it.  We would make a run side by side run down the track to give the fans a little fun thing to talk about and spice up the days races for them a bit.  In fact, when we usually did something like this with a slower car, which was such a lop sided race.  I would give the other car a head start, based on our E. T.’s that we were running that day and catch up with them right at the finish line.  I usually put a little smaller spread in between the two times for a little insurance that something wouldn’t go wrong and I’d get beat.  How embarrassing would that be? But alas, the parts dragon took a bit out of Jack and his cart broke before we got to race.  He then came over and asked if we could line up the two cars together on the starting line anyway, and take a picture when I made my last run in a mock race.  But oh noooooo, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and once again opened my big mouth an inserted my foot.  I suggested that, “Why don’t we set the go cart out a couple of car lengths on down the track, so I could get a good plume of smoke going up off my tires and it would make a much more dramatic shot out of it”.  Yaa right!!!  His photographer snapped the picture before I got up alongside of him, with the result that it appeared he was winning the race and became “Jack the giant killer”.  As it said on the caption of the picture in at least a dozen or more magazines I saw it in after that.  Believe me, I kept my two cents to myself after that —- but it “did” make a “great” picture of it!!!  <grin>

BUT, and here comes that “but” again.  Jack found out what I’ve known for a long time.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch!!!  He got his picture alright, but when I flew by him in almost touching range, the headers were pointed directly at him.  They were swept outward at near ground level, as they were in those days and it just about blew him off the go cart, he told me after the experience.  I can easily imagine that, because people in the stands that are a great deal more distant than a few feet, can feel it rumbling through their whole bodies.  I would say it almost re-parted his hair, even with his helmet on!!!  Take that!!!  

 Billy Herndon was the track owner/manager of Tampa Dragway at the time and was the one that came up with the original idea.Ivo —— Now that I’m thinking of this again, I remembered I “still” own him a pay back.  So I’ll end this now, because I need to send him a “ticking” package the mail, that’s been way, way to long in being sent!!!  You’d better have a pile of water sitting at the front door Billy from now on, to douse the “ticking” package in and disarm it when it arrives!!!  <evil grin>

Just kidding!!!

TV Tommy Ivo

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