Category Archives: Rocket Hockett

Jesse “Rocket” Hockett

Eulogy from Kevin Whitworth
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kevin Whitworth. I’m honored that the Hockett family has given me the opportunity to speak to you about Jesse’s life. I’m humbled and amazed as I look out at all of you: family, in-laws, outlaws, and friends and I realize that, while we all knew Jesse in different roles, we were blessed to have known a truly extraordinary young husband, son, brother, cousin, nephew, uncle, friend, football player, and, yes, race car driver.
First, let me set a little background as to why they asked me. As Jack has said many times, the reason Jessie raced was all my fault. I’ve known Jesse since he was just a small boy. I didn’t spend a lot of time every day with him necessarily, like a schoolmate, but I did start working with his dad Jack roughly 27 years ago. At the time, I had just started racing Sprint cars and Jack, Connie, Jessie , Jack’s sister Kathy, “ the Rowden gang,” and Jack’s closest friend Grover Hall all started coming to watch the sprint cars in Sedalia and the other local tracks. For whatever reason, they took a liking to me, which has been a blessing for me ever since. The first benefit of having the Hocketts like you is they were great for t-shirt sales! (Have you looked at the size of this family in victory lane pictures?)
The second benefit for me personally was this family always made me feel like I was one of them. From Jack being like a big brother and Kathy being like a big sister, whom I’m sure would have fought anyone in the stands that was badmouthing me, to Jesse, who was like the little brother who looked up to me and wanted to be like me. For awhile, I didn’t really have a tow vehicle and Jack told Connie he needed a new pickup, but, honestly I think it was for me to use because I sometimes put more miles on it than they did? So when I talk about how Jesse was, I’m really showing you this reflection of all the people that loved him.
As time passed, Jesse’s love for the sport drove Jack and Grover to start building 4 cylinder winged sprint cars to race for themselves. To start out Grover, Jack, Robbie, Jesse, and Tim Rowden (Kathy’s husband) even built a sprint car in there somewhere that they all drove. So now Connie transitioned very quickly from spectator to watching the whole darn family going around in circles. I didn’t get to see them race much because I was always somewhere else racing myself, but I always got the weekly report from Jack on Monday morning at work as to how everyone had done ( Waterloo did pay us for just a little bench racing each week) and every week he would say, “I wish you can see Jesse race; he drives just like you”. I’ll come back to this a little later.
Jesse was proving to everyone around him that he WAS special and one by one the clan parked their cars and the energy started to focus on him. They all still came and watched races as much as they could.
All this “training” we’ll call it that this family put themselves through is why so many of you have come from so far away to honor Jesse. What I want you to know is that without any one member of his family, you may have not been able to enjoy that little boy, ornery grin of his because there was a little bit of all of them in Jesse.
Jesse was also very fortunate to have his cousin Daniel McMillian as his crew chief at the beginning of his career. Those two just knew what each other needed, mostly without words. I think people that didn’t know Jesse well wondered if, after losing Daniel ,he would be able to maintain the success they had achieved together. Don’t let what I’m about to say diminish in any way what Daniel contributed to Jesse, but I’m not sure it didn’t make him better. He could grab anyone, throw them in the truck with him, run of of fuel on the way to the track, leave the wing at home, and still figure out a way by the end of the night to stand in victory lane? After all that, he would take the time to greet every fan like he knew them forever, from a Dick Vermeil to a little boy or girl who just wanted to crawl around on his car, Jesse
loved people; you could see it in his eyes.
As everyone knows, it takes a lot of people working together to make anyone successful in the world of Sprint car racing, no matter how much talent a driver has. And before I name a few of those people please forgive me if I forget someone.
First, as I ended my career ,one of my two closest friends in the world and best helpers, Dave Korte, was left with nothing to do on Friday and Saturday nights and Jesse was fortunate to latch on to him. He has been through so much with Jesse and If you would like to hear some of the funniest stories about being on the road with the boys, I recommend you corner Dave sometime when you have an hour or so.
You will laugh till you cry.
There are people like Grover Hall ,Bob Douglas, Larry McCown, and Ernie Walker, who, like they did for me, would see a need that was keeping you from doing the important stuff on the racecar and, without saying a word, just show up with materials and devote their time to fix the problem, asking for nothing in return.
And also all the boys that have given up their lives at home to travel with Jesse at different times for little or no money just for the satisfaction of being a part of something special.
And last but not least the folks who Jesse had to meet :
Like every other talented driver at every other track, you need someone who has the money and who believes in you enough to spend it. For Jesse, this was lettering on the side of the car: VKCC.
Written by: Tyler Rowden
VKCC….who or what is that you ask? That was a common question Jesse would face when being interviewed. Most of us assumed that VKCC was an acronym for something….well, it’s not.
VKCC has multiple meanings. Most importantly, it means FAMILY….always there for you through thick and thin. It also means LOYALTY, TRUST, PASSION and LOVE….it means when you’re expected to do something, you go above and beyond those expectations. Think about that….exceeding expectations set upon you. Jesse Hockett couldn’t have done that any better, and VKCC certainly did as well. But VKCC does have a literal translation.
Tom and Asta VanKeirsbilck: VanKeirsbilck, there’s the V and your K. They own a Contracting Company, there’s the C and C. Add motorsports and that is VKCC Motorsports. But there wasn’t a VKCC Motorsports prior to “The Rocket.” And Tom and Asta never really had any idea of owning a racing team. Tom, however, did love his racing and being around the tracks with close friends and family.
In the summer of 1998, in Sedalia, MO, there were 2 classes of sprint cars: the fuel-injected 360’s and the 2-barrel 360’s. The fuel-injected class didn’t have enough cars to have a full field so they were asking the 2-barrel guys if they wanted to jump in to fill the field. The driver of the car that Tom was with that night had a few beers and wasn’t able to get in the car, so they were looking for a driver. Jack was asked if he would drive the car. Jack told him that they ought to put his son, 15-yrs old at the time, in the car. After Jack convinced them that Jesse could do it, the hunt was on for some gear…Jesse didn’t have any of his stuff at the track, as he was a spectator that night. They found some shoes, a little too big but that didn’t matter, a suit that was also a little big, a helmet, etc, and strapped him in.
Jesse got out there in hot laps in the 2-barrel car, against the fuel-injected 360’s, and was on the gas….going around some of the best 360 fuel-injected racers out there. Come feature time, Jesse was up for the battle, as he would be for any battle before or after that. At one point, Jesse was in the top 5, then slipped back a few positions but maintained a top 10 finish in a 2-barrel car, on a half mile track with the
fuel-injected 360’s.
After that, Tom said “Damn, that boy’s got some talent!”. Someone informed him that there were some financial problems with being able to run consistently. The following spring, Jack received a call from Tom asking to have Jesse run a car for him, and from there on it was like a match made in heaven and a
dream come true.
Both Jack and Jesse loved sprint car racing and, with the help of VKCC, Jesse’s dream became a reality . One thing that Jack heard over and over from fans was, “Man, Jesse sure is one lucky guy!” Jack would always say, and still does….”Luck is when Jesse met Stubb and Asta that summer evening in Sedalia, MO, after that….Jesse EARNED every bit of it.”
VKCC Motorsports helped make Jesse Hockett, and Jesse Hockett helped make VKCC Motorsports. We may never see another VKCC Motorsports car on the track again and we will miss that, but we will miss Jesse far more.
Every time I would see Jesse, he would still make me feel like I was the greatest sprint car driver ever. Finally, one night at Lucas Oil Speedway, I had to set him straight: he had passed my abilities with his God given talent long ago and the only reason he thought I was so good was because I got out of the sport before he had a chance to whip me like he has done so many other racers. So no, Jack, Jesse didn’t drive just like me, but I’m honored that I might have driven a little bit like him.
There is one more thing I would like to address before closing and because it is last has nothing to do with how important it was to Jesse; quite the opposite is true. Jesse had two women in his life that he loved with all his heart: his mom Connie and his wife Tina. When he was with either, you could see this light in his eyes that could only be compared to when he would climb out of that race car. I ask you to look at the photos and see what I’m talking about. I have had more than one talk with his mom Connie about how I could have lost my life in Sedalia years ago and even though the way we lost Jesse he was doing the thing he loved.
I need to close with this story: just yesterday, Dave Korte and I were sitting in our lawn chairs outside, watching the people file into the funeral home. Dave spotted this little boy, kind of stocky with sunglasses and flipflops on his feet ,scuffing them on the concrete. Dave said standing with his mom., “There is a little Jesse Hockett right there.” Dave said. We laughed for a moment and after five minutes or so, he moved away from his mother’s side and wandered over and positioned himself about 10 feet directly in front of us. He reached up and moved his sunglasses to the top of his head, stared us straight in the eyes, and said in a soft voice as though he wanted us to strain to really listen, “Jesse is in heaven.” Dave thought he knew what he said, but wasn’t sure so he asked the little boy what he had said. And the little boy replied “Jesse is in heaven” and I said “That is right; he is”. And he looked us straight in the eyes once again and said “You’re his teammates” and we said, “Why, yes we are.”
I believe God is a good God, and I believe the day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as our savior. This day, standing here before you, it is hard to understand this plan because I don’t have His wisdom and all we can feel at this moment is our loss, but I do believe God loves Jesse Hockett even more than we do and the little boy he sent to deliver the message was right
“Jesse is in heaven today.”
Thank you

Rocket Hockett Honored by Many

Rocket Hockett – “The Rocket” Honored by Many!

(Bill W) June 1, 2010 – They came from far and wide to gather at Jesse Hockett’s Double X Speedway last Sunday night near California, Missouri to honor the late Jesse “The Rocket” Hockett.  It was meant to be a night of celebration of the life of one of racing’s shining stars, and of course, it was to be a night of racing for the Hockett family and the Family of Racing associated with this great sport.

Randy Martin was chosen to drive the Jesse Hockett Racing #77 on Sunday night, and received resounding standing ovations from a packed house (many wearing Jesse Hockett apparel) every time he hit the track.  The event was a great success despite everyone’s favorite for a night not visiting Victory Lane.  The evening was a testament to “The Rocket” with young and old gathered for a racing event at a track he called a Sunday night home for years.

Young Adam Jones won the Winged Outlaw Warriors main event, piloting a car purchased from the Jesse Hockett stable this past off-season.  Several drivers displayed decals honoring their fallen hero.

Generous contributors to the Hockett family continue to step up to the plate.  On Sunday, $2,046 was collected from fans in the stands, and $3,530 was donated by Gill Signs of Sedalia through decal sales at area tracks.  Some drivers elected to contribute their winnings to the cause as well.

Other initiatives are taking place around the country.  Donations were taken in Indiana at Haubstadt and Lawrenceburg totaling $4,300.  Arizona Motorsport Promotions donated 10% of their sales from the “Show Me 100”.  Robby Wolfgang’s team is providing decals for a free-will donation and sending that money along.  Robby also drove under the #77 at Rock Rapids on Friday night in non-wing competition.  Brian Brown also changed to #77 for the weekend to honor Jesse, and had the huge crowd at Knoxville cheering him on to victory.  At Calistoga, California, Kyle Larson, who raced the JHR #77 at Little Rock last Fall, did a Memorial lap in Jesse’s honor.

Countless missing man formations and other activities to celebrate Jesse’s memory are occurring across the country and around the world.  And of course, Double X Speedway will now be known as Jesse Hockett’s Double X Speedway.


Donations to the family can be made at the following address…

Reser Funeral Home
101 W. Main
Warsaw, MO 65355

Rocket Rambles

From 2003 through Sunday, May 23, Jesse left a huge mark on Jesse Hockett’s Double X Speedway.  In the 32 features he ran in that time period, he won 23 of them or 72% of the time.  He finished in the top five an amazing 30 times (94%).  His other two finishes resulted in DNF’s.

Jesse Hockett

Today, Jesse Hockett lost his life due to a tragic electrical accident, while preparing the race trailer for the next five nights of racing.
Jesse was an absolutely amazing racer and he prooved that again this past weekend, winning all three nights, but more importantly Jesse was just plain and simple an awesome person.   Would help anyone at anytime no matter who or what it was.
He had a heart of gold and showed it every day.  He was a person that just made the world a better place.
Jesse was a great friend to everyone he knew, and a great and loving husband to his wife Tina Marie.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew him and sympathys go out to his wife, family and many of many friends across the world.  R.I.P Rocket, we Love You bud and will see you and Daniel again one day.

Details regarding services will be announced as they become available.

Rocket Hockett – Three Nights/Three Wins!

May 26, 2010 – “The Rocket” Jesse Hockett hit the Trifecta last weekend, going three for three in feature wins in the “Show Me” State. 
The Warsaw, Missouri driver tallied victories on Friday at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, on Saturday at the Lake Ozark Speedway near Eldon, and Sunday at the Double X Speedway near California.  This weekend, an ambitious schedule finds him at the Terre Haute Action Track in Indiana with USAC on Thursday, Jetmore Speedway for the Steve King Memorial at Jetmore Speedway in Kansas with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series on Saturday and Sunday, and at the 81 Speedway near Wichita with NCRA on Monday.
Racers and fans have welcomed back weekly sprint car action on Friday nights in Sedalia, and the car counts are starting to pick up as the weather gets warmer.  Jesse started things out right with a heat win from inside row two.  “We didn’t even know if we could get it in with all the rain,” he says.  “We had to pit outside, but they had the track worked in.  The car was working really well and the track stayed good.”
On a tacky and rough track, he had to work for this one.  “We had a bad start,” he admits.  “The guy on the pole just didn’t get going very good, and we were back in fifth and sixth.  We had to pick those cars off one by one.  We had to free the car up with the heavy surface and kind of run above the cushion to get by some cars.  It was fun, but pretty treacherous.”
The winning pass came ahead of the California driver sharing his shop this summer.  “We were able to get through traffic there and get by (leader) Kyle Hirst off of turn two there,” says Jesse.  “It was pretty much over with from there.”
The draw at Lake Ozark Speedway on Saturday saw Jesse post inside row three for his heat.  An exciting finish saw him win it at the line.  “We worked through traffic there pretty good early on, but Curtis Boyer got out there a ways on me,” he says.  “We were rolling pretty nice halfway through the race.  We ended up getting him right at the line in a photo finish.”
After winning the dash and earning the pole position, the only doubts came when Jesse hit a hole in the JHR #77.  “The track had a few holes in it,” he says.  “We had a bit of excitement when we got in a hole and bounced around a bit.  After that, we worked well through traffic and ended up with another win.”
Jesse’s domination lately of Double X Speedway left little doubt that a sweep of all heats, dashes and features was possible for the weekend.  His friends and sponsors decided to challenge him in the feature after winning his heat from fourth.  “Kyle Hirst and some of my sponsors got together,” he explains.  “They wanted to see me start at the back.  They put up some extra money, along with Putnam Chevrolet as well as Fischer Body Shop if I won from the back.  In the end, it was a $400 bonus.”
Starting 16th, he sliced through the field to record his second win in as many starts this season on the ¼ mile.  “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better car there than I had on Sunday,” says Jesse.  “We really have the A.R.T. car going good.  I’m happy with everything going on with the car.  Vortex Wings, Penske Shocks and the Don Ott motor is hitting hard every night.”
After sweeping the weekend in the JHR #77, the VKCC Motorsports #75 will be brought out for Terre Haute on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  The #77 will return for the Wichita event on Monday.
On the Web
To learn more about Jesse “The Rocket” Hockett, including updated results and photos, visit!
Rocket Rambles
Jesse is catching his career-best victory pace of 2009.  His three wins this past weekend give him five on the season.  He had six through the month of May in 2009 and ended up with 22.  His first six in 2009 came at East Bay Raceway Park (FL) in the Ronald Laney Memorial “King of the 360’s”, the Lealand Legacy and Don Davis Memorial at Manzanita Speedway (AZ), two at Lake Ozark Speedway (MO) and one at Double X Speedway (MO).

Rocket Hockett – Plan B!

May 18, 2010 – “The Rocket” Jesse Hockett was planning on racing close to home last weekend, but went 0 for 3 thanks to Mother Nature.  Not satisfied staying at home, the Warsaw, Missouri driver struck out to run his 360 with the 410’s at Jacksonville Speedway in Illinois on Friday, and the regular 360 show at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa on Saturday.  This weekend, he’ll try the same schedule he had planned last week, with Sedalia on Friday, Lake Ozark Speedway on Saturday, and XX Speedway on Sunday.
The ¼ mile oval in Jacksonville is not a horsepower track, and that played into Jesse’s hands, as he drove the JHR #77 to second in his heat, started sixth in the feature, and challenged for the lead.  “We were battling our way to the front and got up to (leader) Jerrod Hull,” he says.  “We were able to get by him for a couple of laps, and he ended up coming back and getting by us.”
Rain during the week yielded a tacky, yet racy racetrack.  As usual, “The Rocket” made his own groove above the others.  “The track was sticky all night,” says Jesse.  “There was really only one little groove that got black slicked over.  I was running wide open with four wheels above the cushion.  Most of the other cars were running the bottom, so that made for a clear run to the front.  I kind of had my own track to race on up there.”
In the end, a second place finish was a satisfying result.  “It was a good showing, especially with our 360 against the 410’s,” says Jesse.  “Even to be close to Jerrod Hull was a good thing.  I was real happy with our performance, and we could have won if I did a couple things different.”
With a better forecast for Knoxville than Missouri, Jesse pointed the truck towards Iowa after Friday night.  He had far less luck with the truck hauling the trailer than he did on the track when the turbo went out.  “(Racing) was better than staying home and getting rained out, but we had some problems with the truck between Jacksonville and Knoxville,” he says.  “I have to thank the Schneiderman family and Dale Oaks for his truck in getting us to Knoxville.  From there, Korte Transportation got us home.”
With 360’s timing in during hot laps this year, Jesse saw an opportunity to improve his performance at the famous half-mile, and test on the tires there.  Things went well, as he qualified seventh in the 35-car field.  “We’ve struggled lately qualifying at Knoxville, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go up there,” he says.  “We ended up timing really well considering the track conditions when we got out there.  It was going away at a rapid pace, and we were by far the fastest car in our session.”
With an invert of six for the heat race, only the top four transfer.  Jesse found himself finishing where he started…fifth.  With the likes of Johnny Anderson, Jonathan Cornell, Jon Agan and Lee Grosz up front, it was tough to make headway.  “We had a really stacked heat race it seemed,” he says.  “Between the tough competition and me missing it with the car, it didn’t add up.”
The B was equally stacked, but Jesse’s qualifying time gave him a spot starting up front where he rode to a runner-up finish, and a trip to the main event.  “We started second, and Dennis Moore Jr. got out in front,” he says.  “He pulled away a little bit while I was trying some different lines, but we ended up closing on him at the end.”
Tire issues gave the team a few challenges on setup, and discretion was the better part of valor in getting ready for the feature.  However, steady progress was made in a drive from 18th to 11th.  “We couldn’t find the stagger we wanted,” says Jesse.  “I had a limited supply of left rears.  With the stagger issue, I didn’t see the sense in buying a brand new tire starting at the back.  We made the best of what we had, and moved up to 11th.”
Jesse’s Missouri runs this weekend will come in the JHR #77 on Friday at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, and Sunday at the XX Speedway in California.  Saturday, he will shake down the VKCC Motorsports #75.  “We want to run the #75 at Lake Ozark Speedway and make sure it’s o.k.,” he explains.  “When we raced last with it at Little Rock, we had some frame damage.  We got it fixed, and we want to make sure we’re comfortable in it before we head to Jetmore at the end of the month.”

On the Web
To learn more about Jesse “The Rocket” Hockett, including updated results and photos, visit !
Rocket Rambles
Counting his win a week ago Sunday at Double X Speedway, Jesse has racked up 78 wins since the beginning of 2005.  His win totals in those years have been 2005 (19), 2006 (13), 2007 (9), 2008 (13), 2009 (22) and two already in 2010.  His three richest wins to date have been the 2008 Perris (CA) Oval Nationals worth $12,500, the 2009 East Bay (FL) Ronald Laney Memorial “King of the 360’s” worth $13,000 and the 2009 USAC Ultimate Challenge at the Southern Iowa Speedway worth $15,000.