Grand Marshal Bruce Larson began his drag racing career as a 16-yr. old in a chopped fenderless ’32 Ford coupe. He was a consistent winner on local strips in a ’54 Olds and a ’32 Chevy A/Gasser. He first gained national prominence in 1965 when he won the NHRA Winternationals, Springnationals and U.S. Nationals driving a Ford Cobra. In 1966 while working at Pennsylvania’s Sutliff Chevrolet he built his first match race Funny Car, an injected ’66 Chevelle. It was the first of his familiar red, white and blue Chevys. In 1969 he won the prestigious Super Stock Nationals in York, Pa. driving a Camaro Funny Car. In 1985 Larson teamed with Joe Amato and raced with his first major sponsor. He won his first NHRA national event in Funny Car at the Cajun Nationals. In 1989 he led the points from beginning to end to become NHRA Funny Car World Champion. From 1992 to 1995 he drove Don Garlits Top Fuel cars. Now retired Larson enjoys restoring race cars, and has even restored his first ’32 Ford hot rod.
Since being named Grand Marshal of the 9th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA, the legendary Funny Car Champion has been stirring up excitement for the three-day affair coming to Bowling Green in June. Bruce himself is revved up for the event and looking forward to a weekend with old and new friends. He sat down with us to give us a little insight into his Reunion expectations and racing memories.
Question: You’ve been named Grand Marshal of the Reunion, so how does that feel?
LARSON: It is a wonderful honor to be chosen as Grand Marshal for one of the most prestigious NHRA nostalgia events of the season.
Question: Have you been to the Reunion before? What do fans benefit from the Reunions?
LARSON: As a retired NHRA driver I spend a lot of time participating in Nostalgia drag strip reunions and I have participated in several of the Bowling Green and Bakersfield Reunions. There seems to be a large group of enthusiasts/spectators and fans that are of the age group that enjoyed drag racing in the 50's to 70's the way it was more so than the way it is now and they bring their kids and grandkids. They relate to the drivers of that era. Sometimes the fans just hang out in the pits all during the event and marvel at the way it used to be. The fans appreciate the flawless craftsmanship employed during the restorations and love to hang around the cars when they are warmed up so they can get a good old fashioned "Nitro Fix".
Question: What or who are you looking forward to seeing at the Reunion?
LARSON: As a participant who restores his vintage cars, the first thing I do when I get there is run to the swap meet to look for "good junk" before some other "picker" gets it. Throughout the reunions I enjoy meeting up with my old driver and crew friends an sitting around telling lies (racing stories).
Question: What have you been doing since you’ve retired from drag racing?
LARSON: In addition to participating in nostalgia related events I have assembled a collection of my old Hot Rods and Funny Cars and restored some of them to running condition, then I started to display the cars and a lot of old memorabilia in my barn. People have started to call it a museum and we have some pretty neat get together there. In the winters my wife and I travel in our motorhome.
Question: Any plans to fire up at the Cacklefest during the Reunion?
LARSON: I usually tour with my 1968 USA-1 Logghe built Chevrolet powered Funny Car. I restored the car in 1996. I plan to enter it in the Cacklefest on Saturday night with 90% nitro in the tank.
Question: You’ll be leading a great group of racers/drag racing heroes to the Reunion, who are some of your favorites?
LARSON: My favorite drag racing heroes are ALL of the colorful old drag racers from an era that cannot and will not ever return.
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