“Love what you do, do what you love.” This is what racing is to 74-year-old Joey Laquerre, from East Montpelier VT. It has been his motto since day one. Laquerre, with his short black bushy hair and tall lengthy body, has been racing since he was 13 years old. He started out racing snowmobiles and moved into racing cars later in his teen years. Laquerre also started building cars when he was 15 years old. It was never about how many races he had won, or about how many championships he was awarded. It was always about having fun and doing something that he loved. If you went up to Laquerre today and asked him how many races he has won, it would take him a while to answer. “As long as I have a steering wheel in my hand and I am having fun, that’s good enough.”
Laquerre was introduced to racing at a young age by his father, Armand Laquerre. Armand was a Vermont local race car driver. Laquerre’s father didn’t want him racing cars at a young age, but he did it anyway. Laquerre told his father he was going to help a friend out with their car but he was actually racing cars instead. Armand Laquerre helped build Thunder Road in Barre, VT.
“The Oxford 250,” was Laquerre’s response when asked about a racing event that helped make him who he is today. Laquerre won the Oxford 250 in 1976 driving a black Mini Mod with the number “50vt” on the side. At that time, he was 23 years old. This was a prestigious race- professional drivers such as Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch (NASCAR drivers from the south) went there to compete.
“I had hopes to win it. When I won it, it was just a relief because I was worried I wasn’t going to win it,” he said. “During the race, we had some accidents which caused restarts and I was involved in a crash. I had to go to the rear and come back up through all the other cars; it was nerve-racking.”
“Winning that race made me very happy, very proud, and, it was a prestigious race!” he added.
It wasn’t just Laquerre who won the race- he had the help of his friends and family. He never had a big crew in the pits, just him and a couple of friends and family. To this day, his crew usually consists of two to four people, including himself. Back when Laquerre was 19, he had a bigger crew because he had three cars.
When he was younger, he wanted to be either a race car driver or a cowboy and since there are not a lot of cowboys in Vermont, he decided to pursue racing. Laquerre’s life has revolved around racing, but he loves his family above all else. He is very proud of his four boys and grandkids that have branched out into their own racing careers.
His son Joey Laquerre, Jr was a phenomenal racer and so was his grandson ‘LIL Joey’ Laquerre. “Those two had the potential to go somewhere and if they were still here today I would do whatever it takes to get them there,” Laquerre said proudly. Laquerre’s sons Jeff and Jay Laquerre also raced cars. Jeff Laquerre is a professional crew chief that had the opportunity to go to NASCAR. Laquerre’s youngest son Jamie Laquerre grew up racing go-karts, snowmobiles and had an incredible skill to race four-wheelers. His granddaughter Melinda Laquerre started drag racing snowmobiles at the age of 5 and raced go-karts a couple of times. Laquerre’s youngest granddaughter, Abbe, raced go-karts for a little while. Laquerre’s grandson, Jesse Laquerre, started racing at the age of 6 in go-karts and now at the age of 10, he is racing cars at his grandfather’s race track in Groveton, New Hampshire.
Laquerre is very proud of all of his kids and grandkids for their accomplishments. “Watching them follow in my footsteps brings me joy. Knowing that I have the opportunity to share my love for racing with the people I care about the most,” he said. “Throughout my racing journey there has been many obstacles but I had to work hard and persevere through it and now I am here watching them do the same thing.”
Laquerre has seven NASCAR North Championships and one co-championship (tied with another driver). Laquerre was proudly inducted into the New England Race Car Hall of Fame and is currently being inducted into the New England Snowmobile Hall of Fame. “This is a great feeling,” Laquerre expressed.
Laquerre had to work hard for what he has accomplished. To be as successful as him, you must have a good work ethic, as well as determination and perseverance.