There's nothing fancy about 65-year-old Larry Wood, pictured in front of his 2006 Eagle (w
It's been an Open Wheel career that has lasted off and on for some 50 years. But driving was never a part of Larry Wood's magnificent effort, he was and still is a mechanic and crew chief, but most notably, an owner and builder.
This "Old School" guy does it pretty much on his own with hard work, a mind that that can analyze any problem, unbelievable fabrication skills, and most importantly, a great love of the sport. While back in the day Larry Wood was one of many just like him, today the Larry Woods of the world are quickly disappearing from the racing landscape.
The New Madison, Ohio native lives right in the middle of Sprint Car country just a short hop from Eldora Speedway. Through the years, he's crewed, wrenched, and owned non-wing 410 Sprints along with 305, 360, and 410 Winged Sprints at dozens of tracks.
Another Wood innovation with a homemade race tire washer. It takes about 15 minutes to do
During the late 1950s and through the early '60s he worked with midwest legend Chick Hale and his early Super Modifieds. He has plans to restore one of those old Modifieds if he can find the time.
Wood even dabbled in NHRA national drag racing and finished Second in the 1967 Spring Nationals with a mod Vette.
"Learned pretty quickly that was not the game for me. With my winnings from that event, there wasn't enough money to pay my motel bill. It was back to the dirt tracks for me," he quipped.
Wood's career has been 99 percent dirt, with just a couple exceptions where he has fielded non-wing pavement Sprint Cars at the famous Little 500 at Anderson (IN) Speedway. But don't get the idea that Larry just runs with local guys. Hardly, during those numerous decades, he's run with the World of Outlaws, USAC, All-Stars, NRA, Midwest All Stars, and others. With participation like that, you would probably figure that there is a sizable sponsor hanging around to pay the bills. That would be a false conclusion. "I have never had a sponsor, I do it myself with my own money and sweat. I am not a rich man, but with the way I do my business, I have been able to keep putting competitive race cars on the track," the 65-year-old explained.
Here's the washer with a tire in place. Note the motor that powers the roller to the back
For the past 20-plus years, the concentration has been on the Sprint Cars. So how does a low-budget guy like Wood compete with drivers who are carrying $35,000 engines when it's clearly obvious he couldn't afford such an investment.
"I build my own, and doing it the way I do, they end up costing me about $15,000. And the engines I build are competition with about an 800-horse capability," he explained.
So Larry, how do you do it?
"Right off the bat, I start off with both used aluminum blocks and Brodix heads along with various other used parts. I fabricate my oil tank and even my own bolts which also helps."
Wood looks for reliability in his engines more than power. "I can usually run an engine all season without having to tear it down. Heck, one of my 410 engines is 14 years old and it still runs strong with annual rebuilds."