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In a recent conversation with Jack Werst, Harry “the Hat” Laplatte brought up the infamous “Jersey Duke II” 1964 Plymouth Savoy, that Jack raced for a short time in 1964. The car was owned by the Duke Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Willingboro, New Jersey and powered by the venerable 426 cubic inch Hemi. The car was an all-white 1964 Plymouth Savoy sedan post car and his second “factory supported” Plymouth race car, but first with a Hemi. The car was raced locally for about four months before crashing at the now defunct Lancaster Dragway in Lancaster, PA.

Jack Werst (left lane) racing at Pocono Drag Lodge against George Whalen took Top Stock honors in the "Jersey Duke II", September 13, 1964.
Werst (right lane) "Jersey Duke II" against Harold Laplatte (near lane) in the similar "Satellite" 1964 Plymouth Hemi Savoy.


Jack stated that the car was ill handling compared to his previous race car an all-white 426 max wedge propelled 1964 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop “Jersey Duke I” (note: the car was later painted black and white, the Mopar colors, per Chrysler management years later). After the crash, a new roof was installed and body repaired and the “Jersey Duke II” sold. The new owner parked the car where it sat in a garage unfortunately being destroyed in a fire while in storage.

By this time in the season, late 1964, the 1965 models were starting to be delivered across the country and with Jack's factory connection secured the number five car of the now famous and highly coveted A990 cars, one of the one hundred cars produced in the series.

Jack continued racing for several more seasons before bowing out of race competition in 1972. Jack competed throughout the years in a variety of Plymouths in Stock, Super Stock, A/FX and finally Pro Stock. Jack stated, the 1964 and 1965 seasons were by far the best and most fun just prior to things becoming corporate business.

Our thanks go out to Jack for sharing the many memories and reliving some of the history of drag racing with Harry. Jack was truly one of the pioneers of drag racing and well known in the east coast drag racing scene. Jack is now retired and lives with his wife Ilene in suburban Philadelphia.

August 2011


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