“Gentlemen Joe Schubeck” is one of the ultimate representatives of the sport. His first introduction to cars and the sport was through the pages of Hot Rod Magazine; reading articles by future NHRA founder Wally Parks and the rest of the staff. While still in high school, Joe met a fellow enthusiast Jack Harris. Jack had started a dragster but opened a speed shop and was too busy building the business to go racing. Harris passed the dragster along to Joe and just before his high school graduation Joe debuted the nitro burning flathead V-8 powered dragster at the local race track. His very first competitive race paired him against the Arfons Brothers dragster. It was there he learned how much fun the sport was. He also learned he needed a bigger engine if he was going to be competitive.
In 1957 Joe teamed up with a fellow racer, Joe Scarpelli, with a blown Hemi Chrysler powered AA/Gas dragster that hooked him even more. It was during his early dragster career that Ed Iskenderian bestowed the nickname Gentlemen Joe on him, after which, Jim Diest made him a custom fit tuxedo driving suit. Even the bowtie was fireproof. In 1958 the two Joe’s fielded a new car that Schubeck built himself and with enough success he launched a new chassis building business named Lakewood Chassis Company. Building the chassis itself wasn’t that much of a challenge, but building the aluminum bell housing for the cars was a real hassle. After doing some research on the bell housing Joe learned of a local company that was hydroforming various parts. He wound up designing and producing a steel unit that also worked as a safety shield to contain the flywheel and clutch in the event it exploded. Because the sports acceptance of the Lakewood High Tech Bell Housing, Joe changed the name of the business to Lakewood Industries. The business became so busy Joe had to retire from actively racing.
While the business was going great. Joe really missed actively racing; when George Hurst told him about a new car he was having built. The car was an Oldsmobile 442 with two blown nitro burning engines driving on all four wheels. George asked Joe if he would be interested in driving it; it took a bit of arm-twisting but Joe finally agreed to do so. The combination of the monster car dubbed “The Hurst Harry Oldsmobile” and Joe’s showmanship, including his tux driving suit, made the venture an instant success.
Today Joe is semi-retired from the manufacturing side of the sport, producing a limited number of various specialty parts. He tours the various car shows and special events across the nation with his restored front motor AA/Fuel dragster and is a regular participant in the cackle fast events. Among Joe’s many accomplishments and honors, he was recently inducted into the prestigious SEMA Hall of Fame and remains a true ambassador of the sport.