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Rat Poison Racing History

Rat Poison Racing today is my grandson, Robby, and his dad, Dan. However, I am the old guy who started it way back around 1964. My name is Frank Pettinato; I get to write the history. Since many visitors are interested in our racing and its history, we have decided to give it a page of its own with photos and info about Robby’s latest endeavors.
One question we get is: Why is the name Rat Poison? Yeah, good question! It has nothing to do with pest exterminators. Really, it is pretty simple, but if you were not there at the time, you are entitled to an explanation, so here it is:

Back in the late 50s and 60s hot rodding was a hobby everyone dabbled in. Those who were more deeply involved, such as I was, often replaced engines in our cars, upgrading to better, more powerful engines. Cadillac engines were the favorites, then came Oldsmobile, Chrysler, Buick, Packard, and so on until the small block Chevy came along – the old 283 V8. Wow what a great package! It fit in everything, plenty of horsepower, just what we wanted.

With that successful little engine, GM poured it on, building various types of the original. Quickly, what was a hobby, putting a Chevy engine into some older car, grew into serious competition cars built only for racetrack use. Four engine types hit the top of the pile of those available. Those four were: The small block Chevy, named in slang jargon of the day as “mouse motor.” Then there was a big block Chevy engine dubbed the “rat motor.” Next in the rotation was the Chrysler Hemi from the 1950s called the “bear motor.” Last, but certainly not least, one of the greatest automotive engine designs ever was the late model 426 hemi of the 1960s known affectionately as the “elephant motor.”

In our little hometown, we had lots of friends with racecars under construction. One would say: “I stopped over at Rick’s today, he is putting together a T roadster with a “mouse.” Every one knew that someone was building a competition car with a small block Chevy engine and a fiberglass Ford Model T body. Our friends Phil and Martha Lippard had a house full of cute little children and a yard full of cut down Ford T bodies that were powered by the big block Chevy’s “rat motor.” Phil was a consummate racer; they went to every race, anywhere. His cars always ran great and were very, very hard to beat. Phil usually had three cars running at any one time. He always brought a big crowd of kids some of which simply in the need of fatherly companionship. I always admired Phil and Martha for caring about young men who might be suffering from too little fatherly home influence.

My childhood friend, John Morey, and I were racing a dragster with a “mouse motor.” It was fairly successful but we recognized the greater popularity of the cars such as Phil Lippard’s roadsters. So John and I decided to sell the car we had and build something like Phil would run. Rather than just mimic Phil completely, we choose a little 1940s sedan body from England – a cute little box-like thing, really tiny. As for the engine, we both agreed that the best to have would be the late model hemi of the 1960s – an “elephant motor.” Therefore, since we were on a mission to beat the best, Phil Lippard, who powered all of his cars with “rat motors,” I came up with the name on our car: “RAT POISON.”

John and I ran several cars over the years, all with that name. We won a lot of races and enjoyed reasonable success. There were times in the 1970s when we didn’t race. My friend John Morey died, a victim of cancer. We moved across the country and settled in the west. When my son, Dan, started serious racing in the 1980s, I was right there to be a part of it. He christened his car “Rat Poison.” As the years rolled by, my grandson, Robby started in junior dragsters at about 8 years of age. Robby is 17 now. He has always done very well, winning the most prestigious races, thanks to a peaceful disposition and a Dad who will accept nothing but perfection from their car. I proudly pass on my legacy and the name: “Rat Poison” to Robby. He is a great kid and a very good racecar driver.

Rat Poison Racing is looking forward to a great 2015 season. We are proud to announce a new partnership with Southern Star Automotive and Team Moon Racing. Along with Quick Lift Services and Lucas Oil, Southern Star Automotive and Team Moon Racing are helping to ensure a successful and winning 2015 season. Southern Star Automotive provides excellent, full service auto care in the Greenville, SC, area. Along with Team Moon Racing, they have found locally a niche in the custom/speed equipment market. On behalf of all of us at Rat Poison Racing, we would like to give a huge thank you to both companies. We are kicking our season off at the 2nd annual Junior Dragster Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, NC. We feel that because of our winning efforts of making the car the best we can this winter, we have a great chance of bringing home the winning title at this race. Throughout the season, we will be updating you and giving you information on how RPR does at each race. Again, we thank our new partners and look forward to a great 2015 racing season!

Robby Pettinato’s Driving Information:

Hometown: Fountain Inn, South Carolina

Sponsors: Quick Lift Services, Lucas Oil, Southern Star Automotive, Team Moon Racing

Crew Chief: Dan Pettinato

Career Wins: 20

Career Final Rounds: 27

Career Best Elapsed Time: 7.68 seconds

Career Best Mile Per Hour: 86 mph

Quick Lift Services thank you for visiting our web site. If you need information about vehicle lifts or other equipment, please contact us. We are proud to have received a lot of comments about the little racing blurb on the home page of the Quick Lift Services web site and welcome you back in the future.