If stardom is measured by the number of Halls of Fame into which you have been inducted then American Funny Car driver Bruce Larson is definitely a superstar. Check out the list. The International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, the Eastern Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the Super Stock Magazine Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
He has never had the chance to race in Europe. But we can live in hope and the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) has invited him and his wife Nancy to join Ron Hope of Rat Trap fame, Bob Muravez (Floyd Lippencote jnr) of Freight Train fame and Waterbed Fred Miller of Blue Max fame, to be special guests at this year’s BDRHoF’s Gala Awards Dinner being held at the Savill Court Hotel, Windsor Great Park on November 21st. This is his first trip overseas.
What a fantastic line up; and the 2015 BDRHoF Inductees have not even been announced yet! That happens in July. Their induction ceremonies will be made all the more memorable with these drag racing legends attending. Truly a Night of Stars.
Competing in his 1932 Ford, BruceLarson began drag racing as an East Coast 16-year-old. By the mid-1960s he was working at a Chevrolet dealership and he formed a Chevrolet-based Funny Car team with the dealership owner Greg Sutliff. At this time the Funny Car class was still being born and the cars were still described as Factory Experimental's.
Photo Bruce Larson
They initially built a fiberglass-bodied injected Chevrolet Chevelle (now in the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing). This was followed by a Camaro and they toured the country in match races. He added the famous "USA-1" license plate and painted the cars red, white, and blue - applying "USA-1" decals to the side. The Bruce Larson brand had arrived.
Larson put down a 7.41-second run in 1967 which broke the existing Funny Car elapsed time record. After a Funny Car fire in 1972 destroyed his machine, he began to do some Pro Stock racing and his familiar red, white and blue “USA-1” livery was this time seen on a 1970 Camaro and later on a 1972 Chevrolet Vega. He returned to the Funny Car ranks in 1975 with a Chevrolet Monza and later a Corvette.
Photo; Bruce Larson
Larson did not have a major sponsor until he found Datcon/Sentry in 1985. That year he switched from Chevrolet to Oldsmobile and teamed up with world champion Joe Amato. The two shared information and Larson won his first national funny car event at the Cajun Nationals.
Photo; Bruce Larson
He then hired Pennsylvania sprint car racer Maynard Yingst as his crew chief and the duo started 1989 by winning the Winternationals followed by the Springnationals, Mile-High nationals, Seafair nationals, Fallnationals, and the Winston Finals, plus finishing second at five additional events competing against Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, John Force and Ed McCulloch. He led the season point’s standings from start to finish claiming the 1989 NHRA Funny Car national championship; more than justifying being voted Car Craft magazine’s Funny Car Driver of the Year.
After taking over the driving duties on Don Garlits Swamp Rat 32 Dragster in June 1992 when Don retired due to a detached retina, Larson raced his first Top Fuel Dragster and went on to win four IHRA National events. Garlits closed his racing operation in 1995, but Larson returned to help Big Daddy work on his dragster during 2002 when Don made a comeback.
Larson’s championship-winning Sentry Olds Funny Car was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C and since 1995 he has been collecting and restoring drag racing vehicles that he displays in his own museum - Bruce Larson’s Barn.
Photo; Bruce Larson
But he has still been out on the track racing Nostalgia Funny Cars because for 2013, Worm, Inc. created a replica of the Camaro. The chassis meets current safety rules, but maintains the appearance of the original car andLarson entertains fans at tracks across the country.
On being invited to the BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner He said,
“I’ve heard a lot about drag racing in England and it’s always been my wish to race there one day – particularly now the Nostalgia Funny Car scene is beginning to take hold. Big Daddy told me what a great time he had at the 2014 British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala Awards Dinner and it sounds like quite a show. It’s great to be invited and get a chance to meet the British racers and fans”.
BDRHoF Chairman Stu Bradbury said,
“We are celebrating the 10th year of presenting these awards so it’s fabulous to have so many great drag racing pioneers from the USA attending. Being invited to the 2015 International Drag Racing Awards Dinner held in Gainesville enabled us to make contact with so many new friends and it is rewarding that they want to join us to celebrate our own pioneers. It is a rare opportunity for British fans to meet and greet them”.
Ticket prices will remain as last year at £60 per person. Corporate tables of 10 are available at £580. Room prices also remain as last year, £99 for double £79 for single including breakfast. Complimentary use of swimming pool, Sauna, Steam room, Jacuzzi, and free car parking are also part of the package.
For advance booking of tickets contact BritishDRHOF@aol.comor telephone Stu Bradbury on 01933 279102. No deposits will be required until the summer but when other plans are announced this will again be an early sell-out event. Oh yes – there’s more exciting news to come.
The Savill Court Hotel information
Room Bookings 01784 472000 Opening Times 8.30am-5.30pm Press Option #1
After 5.30pm Press Option #3 Reception. Don't forget to mention the Hall of Fame dinner 21st November