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The following is in Joe Haggerty’s own words about how the Rat Patrol car got it’s name.
by Don Ross

The Place: Beeline Dragway – Scottsdale Arizona
The Event: 1967 Winternationals:
In 1967 the original RAT Patrol got it’s name. They had qualified 32nd from well over twice that amount of cars.

Joe Haggerty was the driver. Larry La Due was the chassis owner and chief wrench. Bob Haggerty was crew boss and damage control. Prince Hughes was Larry’s assistant. Buddy Smith was the cash man behind the motor. Robert Landrum owned the Enderle injection and crewed.

We came to the track that morning without any lettering on the car but we were going to call ourselves the” Aggressors’. We had a camouflaged 55 Chevy tow car, we had Army Caps and jackets. The trailer was a single axle, open rig with a luggage rack over the car that carried tires, tools, and fuel. We looked like Gipsy traders going down the highway.

The place was packed so we got down to business. The field was around 7.50, with 8.10 being on the bubble. Not wanting to make a lot of runs we put 100% in the tank and a little Hydrazine in as an additive.

The fire up was straight behind the starting line. In those days you didn’t spin the tires. They were wiped with rags. We fired and I stopped the car about 100 ft. from the line. The crowd came to their feet when we did a smoke burn-out. I staged and smoked telephone pole high rooster tails through the lights.

When we picked up our E-T Slip it read 6.92 and a note. No time on that run…..
I guess that means we weren’t the first guys in the 6’s.

The national Record was around 7.49 so we figured they just didn’t believe it. We made another run but galled a rocker arm and shut off with 8.02. We were in but at the bottom of the ladder. When 1st round came we were paired off with low ET qualifiers Goodson and Gore. They were #4 in California T/Fuel list. When we lined up I put a hole shot on them and sent them down the road. We were getting ready for round #2 when an AHRA staffer came by and said “Hey, do you know what the other racers are calling you?” NO, what” he said the “Rat Patrol” That was our favorite TV show. We then won round #2 against Tulsa & Burt Bros. In round #3, I red lighted against Don Cook.

On the way home we wondered what they thought of that qualifying 6.92? they didn’t give us, when we outran Goodson & Gore.

Well anyway I guess we can letter the car now.
Larry said, that’s the 1st thing I’ll do.


This is the car when Joe was driving at Beeline in 1968 when the car got it’s named.


Joe Haggerty in the seat at Green Valley Raceway in Ft. Worth TX. Look at the number sign with a plastic Tommy gun attached.


Joe on the top end at Green Valley.


The next few shots are the new body at Dennis Tarkington’s home shop, Lone Star Race Car Bodies in Louisville TX.






Larry In the freshly re-done Rat Patrol.





Larry on a burn out at Dallas International Raceway.


This is after another burn out at Dallas notice weight on front end, wings and oil under engine.



Outside of Burk’s Auto Parts in Mesquite TX. The car was kept there and the Burk’s helped Larry with expenses and machine work.




Another shot of Larry at El Paso TX.




Skipper Harder, former driver for the U. S. Kids of Dallas. Skipper Crashed the Rat at Bowmont TX. in 1973. The car was cut up and made into a roadster by Joe Haggerty and raced as the Blue Rat.





Joe views the remains of the Rat Patrol (Blue Rat) in a storage shed out in the Texas country side.


Here is a flipped photo to get a better idea of the cage for the recreation of the car.


The original axle and Radius rod still exist, so Don traced them on to past board for future build reference.



The first sketch made to take dimensions from the hanging cage in the barn.


Shop sketch to work up tube sizes and work out order for tubing and misc parts.


First things first, all lined up on the chassis table at Don Ross Fabricating in Garland TX. Just outside of Dallas.


Top and bottom hoops set up on fixtures and clamped in place.


1-1/4” and 1-1/8th” tubes stuck in for a look see at what a 205” car with 26-1/2” engine spacing looks like.


Rear end, Seat and fire wall uprights tacked in place along with roll hoop and upright.


Butt and jack tube detail.


Front axle, torsion bar in fixture and tacked up.


One of the first pieces of aluminum work needed is the seat. Then all the fitting can be done with the driver in place.


Don Ross’ version of an in and out de-coupler “Safety Slider” shown held in the engaged position.


“Safety Slider” and drive line sliding cover attached to an aluminum pinion plate. The rear end also has two tabs on the bottom for anti spin.


Modified sprint car shifter to slide coupler in and out and lock over center in the out position. The modification is a motorcycle type lever in place of the modern cnc lever. These levers are handmade four at a time after some mill work on an old Bridgeport mill.


Pedal and bell crank linkage for the injector.


Kenneth Reierson in one of the fittings, I told him to smile, he said he was.


The five and a half gallon fuel tank before and after welding.



The headers were built from one of the original headers that were on the car. Then we later realized that they pointed at the tires and while Cackling burned a large spot on the tires. Don built a new set at 52* instead of 42*.



Starting on the nose side panels after bending the bottom roll under


Fitting driver side panels.


Engine side panels still a little big on the top in places.


One cold winter day, Dennis Tarkington the original body builder dropped by. Left to right Jimmy Garritson, Dennis Tarkington and Joe Haggerty look over a scrap book.


First fit of the cowl.


Cowl marked for final trimming and fit up.


Fitting rear nose top panel.


The nose point comes into shape.




All the tin is fitted and the cars on the ground on all fours for the first time.


A look into the office before Kenneth picked up the car.


Finished nose cone.


The first roll out at Don Ross Fabricating, it’s ready to go into the trailer for a ride to the town of Cranfield Gap TX.


The rat’s new home at Kenneth’s shop in the Gap as he calls it.


Kenneth priming his body panels.


The chassis being stripped of parts so it can be painted.


The nose just after clear was applied.


Rolled out after assembly for a trip back to Dallas for hand lettering by Brian Bass.



The end result of Bass’ work, it looks exactly like the original car. All the lettering is the same as before with an added small “in memory of “above Larry’s name. Also Lone star Race car Bodies is still on the nose. A small button on top of the nose has the “Ross” family crest and body by Don Ross Fabricating in Gray around it.



Kenneth found an old alky 392 motor.


The 392 in assembly stages at Paul Feuess’ shop.




After a couple of days thrash the car was just test fired with a squirt of alky.


All the office is shined up and ready to go.


The “Kwikill” system bottle of Don Ross’ design is mounted up at the front of the block and is actuated by a driver pull cable. This will shoot a charge of Halon into the injector to kill a runaway motor should that situation arise.


Kenneth climbing out after a fire up at a party at his home, the Gap.




Cackling at an event in Ardmore OK. In 2011.










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