2017 was ‘The Year of the Rocket Chassis’ on the national tours


This weekend Rocket Chassis house car driver Brandon Sheppard will officially be crowned as the World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion at the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. Best Performance Motorsports driver Josh Richards recently received a similar honor on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in that tour’s season ending Dirt Track World Championship in Portsmouth, OH. Something else those drivers have in common is that they both pilot Rocket Chassis race cars with their respective teams.

In China the years are named after something. For example, 2017 is ‘The Year of the Rooster’.

If Dirt Late Model racing did the same thing, 2017 would very much be ‘The Year of the Rocket Chassis’, particularly on the national tours. Two major series championships and scores of feature wins were the rewards brought home to Shinnston, WV. The Mark Richards led company with its XR1 Chassis design, which came out in 2015, captured big wins all throughout 2017 with a variety of drivers behind the wheel.

Josh Richards drove his Rocket Chassis to victory lane often in 2017

During the off-season leading up the 2017 campaign, the surprising news came out that Josh Richards would leave the Rocket Chassis house car team run by his father to move to the Ohio based Best Performance Motorsports organization. The announcement was perhaps made more surprising by the fact that Richards would compete on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series rather than the WoO Late Models circuit where he had won four series titles.

At the same time, it was made known that Sheppard would depart the Best team to essentially switch rides with Richards and take the reins of the Rocket Chassis house car. The New Berlin, Ill. native had previously driven that ride during Richards’ brief stints in NASCAR and throughout his battle with health issues that basically sidelined him for much of the 2014 season.

The move paid off in a major way as both drivers won their respective championships and scored numerous feature wins in the process.

Brandon Sheppard will be crowned as the WoO Late Models champ this weekend

But Rocket’s 2017 success was not all about Richards and Sheppard. As a mater of fact, Rocket PR representative Seann Anderson reports that drivers using their cars won a total of 22 feature races on the Lucas Oil tour while also capturing 23 WoO Late Models checkered flags.

As many who closely follow dirt racing know, success can be hard to hold onto once achieved. A couple of seasons ago it was Longhorn Chassis that was seemingly winning everything. There have been times when cars built by Scott Bloomquist have looked unbeatable and Capital Race Cars have had their own run of success. Next year it could be some other chassis builder that steals the spotlight.

East Tennessee’s Mike Marlar won on both the Lucas Oil and WoO Late Models tours in a Rocket

However, Rocket certainly proved to be the front runner throughout most of 2017. And Mark Richards stated his satisfaction with those wins and championships on the company’s website.

“We personally feel like the XR1 will be the car to take us into the next generation of dirt late models. After one year of competition, the stats show that it’s a proven piece and we couldn’t be more proud of it.”


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