Larry McBride… Top/Fuel Puma/ Kawasaki
After this interview Larry McBride astonished the drag racing world with a blistering 5.93 ET!
After returning from a day of private test and tune with Winston/Star Racing team and a lengthy interview with Angelle Seeling, I (Dwight) arrived home to listen to voice mail from Larry 'Spiderman' McBride. He was returning my call for an interview appointment. It didn't take a flash to realize that it's hard to pack more speed and popularity into one day. I called Larry immediately, and we arranged for a time and day when we could chat. Larry is a busy man, especially as spring and the racing season draws near. His motorcycle machine shop occupies him when drag racing isn't burning his time. I called him for two days before he could spare an hour for this special interview. Larry apologized for being busy. He's that courteous. I didn't want to bother him when he was busy anyway, but I also told him…I really enjoyed dialing his phone number more than once, because it includes a local calling number…599.
"Ain't that cool!" Larry said.
It sure is! …And nothing is hotter than Larry McBride's blistering 5.99 at 243 mph world record…first motorcycle drag racer into the fives. I don't know how he arranged to have a 599 phone number before he set the 5.99 ET, but maybe that's a part of why so many people have referred to Larry McBride as the Spiderman for so long. Like his Marvel comic book hero, Larry McBride is capable of amazing feats. Listen in to the smooth chat of this brave and dedicated racer.
DOB: 1-28-58 BIRTH TOWN: Dothan, Alabama HOME TOWN: Poquoson, Virginia
Do you have a nickname?
"Spiderman." (We didn't have to ask, did we?)
Who are your Heroes?
"Current hero… Gary Scelzi. Lifelong hero…Elmer Trett."
What are (or have been) your scariest moments?
"When I crashed in 1992."
Do you work out?
Do you have a special diet?
"I try not to eat fatty foods. I'm a picky eater."
What mental routine prepares you for each run?
"Fifteen or twenty minutes before a run I like to go into the motor home and think about the run over and over. I like to have 110% concentration on the pass."
Do you have time for a hobby?
"My hobby is boating. When my best friend Keith Adams, Assistant crew chief to Gary Scelzi..... comes into town, we run up and down the river."
Winston Top Fuel driver Gary Scelzi and you go boating. That doesn't sound like a slow boat, is it?
"No. It' fast."
Many motorcyclists ride to unravel, what do you do to unwind?
"Go to the races."
What personal quality (one trait) would you want your fans to admire most?
"I'd like to be know for carrying on the Elmer Trett tradition. The man deserves what I'm getting now."
What's most important?
1.Fame 2.Money 3.Thrill/fun 4.Winning
Are you happy?
"Oh, very happy…extremely happy."
What could make you happier?
"For the NHRA to make Top Fuel Bikes a class. Get all the Top Fuelers at AMA Prostar races so we could get the NHRA to recognize us as a class. "
If you could change one thing about motorcycle drag racing, what would it be?
"I would have a full field of Top Fuel Bikes. I'd like to show people what devotion it takes to be Top Fuel. You can't run two or three days a week. Sometimes it comes down to…Are you going to Top Fuel drag race or are you going to dinner on Friday and Saturday night? Sometimes you have to skip the dinners…And have an understanding wife."
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. If yes, really?
What does 200 miles an hour on a motorcycle feel like?
"Noisy. The next biggest thrill to top fuel racing is sky diving and that's quiet. "
(Larry has skydived too! …that fits within the Spiderman mystique.)
WHERE do you find the most peace in your life?
"Driving down the road. I drive with the radio off so I can think. I'm not at a concert."
Do you have a full-time occupation?
"Besides racing, I own a Motorcycle Machine shop."
You're a skilled racer…What one factor, what one reason separates you from the fast traffic on smooth public highways?
"I pay attention, and watch the other driver. I keep a full visual to avoid accidents…look ten car lengths ahead. Most crashes happen early in the morning or at night when people are tired."
What got you started in Motorcycle drag racing?
"In 1975 a crew member was racing an old Kawi, and asked me to ride it. I liked it. So in Richmond, Virginia when asked to ride a triple, first time out, I ran a hundredth faster than that racer had ever run."
5.99 @ 243 mph…How did it feel? Did you realize it was that good of a run?
" I don't know how it felt. I had no idea that I did it. I knew the run was smooth, and I knew it was faster than I had ever been. A few weeks later I still didn't know how it felt. In a way, I still don't. I'm not sure I did it. "
A rumor…Did you click it early?
"Yes, I did…at 5.8 into the run."
How much of your life has changed by the 5.99 @ 243 mph?
"More people know me now. I remember walking with Elmer Trett at a trade show or at the races. So many people said…"Hi Elmer." Now at the trade shows and races, they say…"Hi Larry." I'm not going to let the world record change me, and I have a hard time grasping the reality. I pinch myself. Did I really do this? "
What's it like to be among all the Legends of Speed?
"I was so amazed to be in there. I don't feel like I'm in there. It means more to me than any money that I could ever have to be in that status."
How did you get the name Spiderman?
"In 1980 and unknown announcer at Indy called me Spiderman describing the way I rode. Back then top fuel bikes were short, and I'm tall. That and Mr. Stuart always called me Spider.
"I really want to thank them for all the support through the years. So many fans, so much support. Even when I was running bad the fans and the industry got on board.
I'd like to thank my sponsors."
Larry would like to thank Pingel Enterprise, Red Line Synthetic Oil Corp., Trim-Tex, Muzzy's Performance, Kibblewhite Precision Machine, HPC, and Web-Cam.
Product sponsors assisting Larry McBride Racing include: Vanson Leathers, Performance Machine, Belt Drives, Ltd., Street & Competition, Dayco Belts, Trac Dynamics, Simpson Race Products, Nitrous Express, APE, Arias, R & D Springs, Autolite, EK Chain, MSD, Clevite Engine Parts, Protect All, Whipple Industries, Cometic Gaskets & TSP.
From the moment I called Larry McBride at his 599 local calling number, I knew I was in special territory. As Larry says…"no one can take away that I was first to run in the fives." That feat and learning that Larry doesn't wear his success on his sleeve, learning that his humility and dedication put him on the best track to the fastest track, is special. Larry says, "I like to see things go fast and safe." Larry thanks everyone else for helping him again and again.
Selecting a final descriptive word for this humble and genuine racer was no easy task. It takes a strong word to stand as tall as Larry McBride… a powerful word…but some power words tend to exaggerate. The tall word I selected for Larry is a word you can't just tag on anyone. When I shared it with Gary he smiled wide and agreed…Larry McBride…the Spiderman…is…
March 4, 2000 Gainesville, Fl. Courtesy of Larry McBride and Puppet
Newport News, Va. 23601
757 599 5235
Bo O'Brochta, Larry McBride, Gary Larsen