Art Rousseau began racing an old Model A
Ford on a frozen lake in Swansey, NH in 1937. When the ice melted in
the spring, the sixteen-year-old Rousseau and his friends would take
the chains off the tires and “run those mug buggies in a field at
some guys farm.” It was during this time that Art began racing at
the Cheshire Fairgrounds, next door to his hometown of Keene. Soon,
Art was venturing out to New York tracks, and then to Langhorne, PA.
Rousseau was known as a hard
charging driver who enjoyed the competition, and the friendships
that grew from that competition. It wasn’t always fun, though. The
sprint cars that Art raced were extremely dangerous. Art teamed with
his brother, Harvey in those early years. Later on, he drove for
several owners, including Frank Campanelli, Bill Boudreau, and Bob
Oliver. It was Oliver’s flathead powered cutdown coupe, the #621,
that Rousseau is probably most remembered for. He drove the car to
victories in the Stafford ¼ mile paved track, and also the bigger
dirt track surrounding it, and took the car North to Keene, where he
also put the #621 into victory lane.
While in his early 70’s, Rousseau
was visiting the relatively new New Hampshire International
Speedway, when a man approached him and asked if he was, in fact,
Art Rousseau. When he admitted that he was, the stranger introduced
himself as Vic Yarardi. He had an old AJ Foyt car, and wanted to
know if Art would be interested in taking a few laps.