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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The Rocketman Checks In

One of a Kind List of Rocket Cars

By Ky Michaelson

As long as we are talking about rocket car history, I would like to put my two cents in. I was there almost from the start. In fact, if it weren’t for me, Rocket Cars probably would never have been sanctioned by NHRA.

You may ask yourself how Ky could make such a statement without getting into a lot of background. I'll try to keep it short. One day I had my Rocket Dragster sitting in my driveway when my neighbor, Tony Fox, came over to my house and saw my car. He told me that if I would build a new trash compactor for him, he would sponsor my car. As it turned out, we received a lot of publicity from running the car.

To get national exposure, we went out to Bonneville to set world records. We invited a number of people from NHRA and in the industry to come out and join the party. They had a great time and I believe they all left thinking Tony had a ton of money. Now put the two together: NHRA and money. I believe they thought they had a new fish on the line. That's how I can make the statement. If it wasn't for me, Tony and NHRA never would have gotten together and NHRA never would have gotten the big potential sponsor they thought they had.

I would like to add a little humor here. One time Tony had his helicopter pick up, if I remember right, Bernie and Wally and take them out to lunch. Tony wrote out a check and it bounced.

I would also like to comment on the fastest run on an NHRA track. Dave Anderson's speed of 344 mph is not the fastest run on an NHRA track. Ed Ballinger holds the record at 348 mph. Both cars belonged to me when they set the records. If you don't believe me, contact Bernie Partridge. He will tell you about the love letter that he sent me. By the way, Ed shut the car off at least 250 feet before the lights. Kitty O’Neil drove this same car on the Mojave Desert to a speed of over 400 mph in the quarter mile. She backed it up with a 396 MPH, 3.22 ET pass. This run was also the quickest quarter mile run in history. The car ran out of peroxide before it went through the 500-meter traps, but it still clocked 450 MPH. We had 1250 PSI in the tank on the last run and burned 30 gallons of peroxide.

We had all kinds of problems with clocks that day. The same people who time the International runs at Bonneville were there with their old timing equipment. We also had a set of Chrondek clocks. Their old clocks were hit and miss. Sometimes they would catch a time and some time they would not. The person who wrote a newspaper article that mentioned a 3.72-second ET for Kitty was a little confused. We had the lights set up to get the ET at the quarter mile mark. The other set were the speed trap lights at the 500-meter mark. Before the end of the day, we wanted an all out run. If I remember right, the speed traps were measured between 120 feet. The interesting part was when we slowed the car down, their lights worked every time. In the three days we were there, we made 13 runs. The lowest ET was 3.22 before Kitty bent up the car.

Here is a list of the rocket motors I have built:

1 – 1972 Pollution Packer dragster. I modified the rocket chamber out of the X-1 Rislone rocket car designed by J.C. McCormick. I made an all-new fuel and pressure system, larger tank, increased the fuel flow, etc. We increased the thrust from 2500 lbs. to 3000 lbs. I installed the propulsion system in my Top Gas Dragster. The car was sponsored by the Tony team.

2 - 1972 Jim Hodges "Gator Man Alabama Express" Funny Car. 3500-lb. thrust motor. I don’t know what happened to the car.

3 - 1973 Pollution Packer. I worked with Dick Keller to build a new 3500 lb. thrust motor for the Pollution Packer. I later sold this car to Tony Fox. The car was destroyed in a crash.

4 - 1973 Pollution Packer "Bonneville Proud American" Dragster Monocoque car. I worked with Dick Keller and Tim? on this project for about a year, then I left the Tony Team to go on my own. The car was last seen in Texas.

5 - 1973 Ky Michaelson "STP Rocket Car," driven by Paula Murphy. I used the rocket chamber out of the Pollution Packer. I changed the catalyst pack, made an all-new high flow fuel system, and increased the thrust to 3275 lbs. The car was destroyed in a crash. I later sold the X-1 Rocket motor to Fred Goeske.

7 - 1974 Rocket Backpack for "Captain Roller Ball." 300 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it.

8 - 1974 Jerry Hehn's "American Dream" Rocket Car. 3500-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. The car crashed and was sold to Fred Goeske.

9 - 1974 Super Joe Einhorn's "Space Cycle." 1200 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it

10 - 1975 Lee Smith’s Rocket-powered Arctic Cat Snowmobile. 1500-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it.

11 - 1975 Lee Smith’s Rocket powered Arctic Cat "Kitty Cat" Snowmobile. 250-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it

12 - 1975 George Lavigne ‘Thunderbolt" rocket powered go-kart. 1500-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Kart was destroyed in crash.

13 - 1975 Pat Best’s rocket powered go-kart. 1500-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Kart was sold to Roscoe McGlashan, the "Aussie Invader," and is in a Australian museum

14 - 1975 Ky Michaelson Rocket powered Hang Glider. 250 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it.

15 - 1976 Lee Smith's Rocket Back. 300-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it.

16 - 1976 Doug Brown’s sports car. 1500 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Car was sold to Dick Williams.

17 - 1976 Fred Goeske's funny car. 3500 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. I don’t know what happened to the car.

18 - 1976, Allen Hudson’s Texas Starship dragster. 5000 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. The car was sold to Fred Goeske, then sold to Rod Phelps. The car is now in the Don Garlits Museum.

19 - 1976 Rocket-powered outboard boat motor. 300-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has it.

20 - 1976 Fred Goeske’s RetroRocket. Reverse 250-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motors. Fred has it.

21 - 1977 Kitty O’Neil Mattel Rocket dragster. 5000-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Ky has the car.

22 - 1977 Kitty O’Neil Mattel Rocket Drag Boat. 5000 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Boat was stolen.

23 - 1977 Human Fly Rocket Cycle. Powered by two 1500-lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motors. Ky has it.

24 - 1977 Lee Taylor's rocket boat. I designed the 5000 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor for Lee. Boat was destroyed in a crash.

25 - 1977 Kitty O’Neil "Rocket Kat" rocket powered 1977 Corvette. 5000 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Car was destroyed in a crash.

26 - 1977 Ky Michaelson Kitty O’Neil Land Speed Record car. The car was used in Kitty O’Neil’s life story, Silent Victory. The car was stolen from a garage in Fillmore, California.

27 - 1978 Frank Huzar built a rocket powered 1978 Corvette for? He bought the X-I rocket motor from Fred Goeske. I built a new propulsion system and installed it in the car. The car was sold to Brent Fanning. He changed the body to a Corvette roadster and named the car "Outer Limits." Later on, they changed the body and renamed the car to" Concept 1." The car was driven by Larry Bostic. The car ran on the exhibition circuit from 1979 to 1984. Brent donated the car to a museum in Texas.

28 - 1979 Dave Henderson and Ed Ballinger "XL-14 Galactic Crusader" rocket dragster. 5000 lb. thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Fred Goeske has the car.

29 - 1979 Dave Henderson and Ed Ballinger "Astron Invader" rocket dragster. Car used to be Kitty O’Neil car, but has a different body. 7500 lb. thrust motor. Ky has the car.

30 - 1981 Fred Goeske’s Plymouth Arrow pickup truck. 3500 thrust Hydrogen Peroxide motor. Fred Goeske has the truck.

31 - 1996 rocket powered wheelchair. 250-lb. thrust motor. Ky has the wheelchair.

32 - 2001 rocket powered go-kart. 500-lb. thrust Nitrous Oxide hybrid motor. Ky has it.

33 - 2001 rocket powered sled. 250 lb. thrust motor. Ky has the sled.

34 - 2001 rocket powered luge. 750-lb. thrust motor. Ky has it.

35 - 2001 rocket-powered lay down skateboard. Skateboard has twenty staged motors. Ky has it.

36 - 1964 Twin T-16 Turbonique rocket powered motorcycle. I sold the motors to Jeff Christianson.

If you want to see real acceleration, check out http://the-rocketman.com and you will see a rocket I built that went over 3,000 mph in 15 seconds in our last space shot attempt.

Ky Michaelson
Rocketman, since 1951
kytec@spacestar.com

 

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