As Indiana prepares for one of the best racing weekend's in the country, fans and drivers alike will have heavy hearts as one of the most popular drivers in dirt racing lost his life in a tragic accident at his Warsaw, Mo. shop.
Jesse "The Rocket" Hockett, suffered fatal injuries while working on an electrical box in his hauler while preparing for a four-day Memorial Day weekend of racing. Hockett had planned on attending tonight's Hulman Classic at The Action Track in Terre Haute before racing near his home at Sedalia and then competing in the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Series at the Jetmore Steve King Memorial on Saturday and Sunday.
Hockett was a fan favorite because of his fun loving nature and instant connection with fans both young and old. A prime example occurred at Terre Haute last year when Hockett took the time to join some young fans throwing a football around the infield during a bit of downtime during a sprint car event at The Action Track. The 26-year old hot shoe quickly made quite a few new fans that day as the story quickly became one that epitomized Hockett's love for the sport of racing and its fans. Never too busy to sign an autograph or take a picture with his fans, Hockett will be missed by many in a sport that features fierce competition on the track, but remains a tight knit family. Hockett will be remembered as much for his big heart and kind demeanor as his ability to wheel a sprint car with the best in the business.
In a career that started in 1998, Hockett -- known as "The Rocket" to fans and other racers -- had 125 feature wins, 298 top five finishes and 410 top 10 finishes.
This year, Hockett competed in 21 races, winning five and recording 14 top fives and 18 top 10s. He was coming off a great weekend of competition in which he won three features, one at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Mo. on Friday, at the Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo. on Saturday and at Double X Speedway in California on Sunday. He was trailing Shane Stewart by just three points in the ASCS National Tour Point Standings.
Hockett competed in USAC as well as SCRA (Santa Clara Racing Association, ASCS Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series and in the Sprint Bandits. One of his top career achievements included an impressive haul of $12,500 in the 2008 USAC Perris Auto Speedway Oval Nationals.
Last season, Hockett recorded 22 feature wins.
Hockett graduated from Warsaw High School and attended State Fair Community College.
What separated Jesse from so many others was that he was never without a smile on his face and was always grateful for the opportunities that he received. While his on-track exploits 'wowed' the crowd, it was the Jesse that so many came to know off the track that will be remembered the most fondly. One of the true gentlmen of the sport, he accomplished so much at such an early age.
Hockett was the husband of Tina (Church) and the son of Jack and Conny Hockett, of Warsaw.
God bless and God speed Jesse, you'll be sorely missed.