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Larry Minor

Larry Minor

Larry Minor started his career in Sand Sports during a Jeep trip to the Glamis Sand Dunes on Thanksgiving weekend 1959. At the time Larry’s jeep was a CJ-6 with a shortened wheelbase. On the way back from Glamis, he blew a motor which led to the installation of a small block and the first of many Chevy powered Jeeps.

    In 1962 Larry joined the Hemet Jeep Club and became active in competitive racing. In 1963 he won a major event, the New Year’s Buttercup meet, running a 409 Chevy motor in the Jeep. During the next two years Larry won a number of Top Eliminator races in the 409 Jeep in Bakersfield, San Jacinto, Pismo, Glamis and Fallon, NV.

    In 1965, the California Four-Wheel Drive Association (CA4WDC), the organization responsible for the rules that governed 4-WD sand competition at the time, released a new set of rules that restricted engine sizes. Working with fellow Hemet Jeep Club member, Harry Bushert, who was also on the board of the CA4WDC, Larry proposed the addition of an un-limited 4-WD class. The new class was accepted by the board and in 1966 Larry introduced the first fiberglass 4-WD Jeep powered by a 352 cubic inch S/B Chevy with a 6-71 Blower running on a mixture of nitro-methane fuel. Taking a page from the folklore of the day, Larry named the beast “Flower Power” and the Jeep dominated the unlimited class for the next four years. In 1971 Larry had Herman Booy of San Jacinto, CA construct rear engine Top Fuel dragster and funny car frames to help keep him on the leading edge of the competition. He stuffed a 500 cubic inch blown & injected all aluminum Hemi engine in the top fuel dragster and it became virtually unbeatable during the 1970’s.

    When organized off-road racing got started in the late 60’s, Minor was successful in that venue as well. In 1967 he teamed up with Rod Hall to win the inaugural NORRA Mexican 1000 in a stock 4-WD Jeep. The Hall/Minor team was the first 4-WD to cross the finish line that year and teamed up again in 69 in a Bill Stroppe prepared Bronco. This time the pair won the race overall and remains the only 4-WD truck to ever win the Mexican (Baja) 1000 event overall in a 4-WD truck. Minor also took class wins at the National 4-WD Grand Prix in 1967/68 and in 71 teamed up with Jack Bayer behind the wheel of Bill Stroppe’s Bronco Pony race truck and took class wins at the Baja 500, the Mint 400 and a number of other major off-road racing events during the early 70’s.

    In 1978 Minor decided to go asphalt racing and built Top Fuel and Funny Car teams to compete in NHRA racing. He hired Gary Beck to drive the dark blue Al Swindahl-chassised Top Fuel dragster, with Bernie Fedderly turning the wrenches. The team won four times, and amazingly, was low qualifier at ten of twelve events during the dream season of 1983. At the Gatornationals, in the same year, Beck set a new national mark of 5.44. In October, at the Golden Gate Nationals in Fremont, California, Beck trashed Gary Ormsby in the final with the sport’s first 5.3-second blast (a 5.391) and then followed it up with a backed-up 5.391 at the World Finals event at Orange County International Raceway. Minor & Beck had the Winston/NHRA Championship won during a season that saw Beck run 17 of the quickest 18 runs in Top Fuel history. As remarkable as this was to accomplish, dominating the competition seems to be business as usual in any form of racing for Larry Minor. In 1999 , Larry returned to Sand Sports with a 2-WD tube frame, Fiberglass Jeep for racing and recreational dune riding. To date, Larry Minor Motorsports in Hemet, California has built 21 of these special Jeeps and demand is on the rise.

    Learn more about ORMHOF inductee Larry Minor in this Conversations with Big Rich podcast:

    Larry Minor credits his friends for a great racing career, from Rodney Hall to Herman Booy to Bill Stroppe – they all started at the beginning. It’s always a great time to be in off-road, but the beginning was pure magic. Following a compass or a paper map is very different than what we do today. Congratulations to Larry Minor, a 2005 inductee into ORMHOF, Larry Minor is why we say; legends live at  

    6:29 – of all the things I’ve done in life, I think I miss growing potatoes the most

    10:18 – my hot rod was just a wood one, couple of 2x4’s and an apple box                                

    14:38 – the three of us together, there wasn’t anything we couldn’t build right 

    19:07 – we had a banner year driving the Broncos; after that Rod continued to drive the 4x4’s

    22:15 – he smoked the tires and hit the guardrail and the other guardrail, it was a mess!

    31:56 – I better buckle down and watch the business and quit the driving part

    37:17 – I took 18 Girl Scouts and 13 parents to the Winter Nationals!

    42:13 – Bill Stroppe taught me the professional part of racing and how to prepare your cars