Former 'Tired' Driver Is Now Back On Track


April 21, 1991|By Stanley C. Dillon

Drag racing was Larry Mayne's life.

He had been racing ever sincehe could drive. Seven years ago he turned his back on racing.

"I just got tired," he said. "It seemed like I was always workingon the car. It was just costing a lot."

For the next five years, Mayne spent his idle time fishing. Once in a while he would ride up to the drag strip to watch. Each time he missed it more and more.

"It kind of got to me a little," he said.

As time passed, he began thinking more and more about returning to the fast lane.

Over two years ago, his friend told him about a car that was for sale, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. It sounded like a good deal.

The car was broughtfrom North Carolina for Larry to see. Once he saw it, fishing was a thing of the past. It was all that Larry needed to return to racing.

"I just couldn't stay away," Mayne said. "You know how it gets into your blood."

The car came without a motor, but it didn't take Mayne long to take care of that problem. Mayne's brother Joe had a motor out of a Chevy Suburban sitting around, so he bought that, did somework on it, and was ready for racing.

"I do all my own engine work," Mayne said. "I tore the engine down, had the crank turned and putit back together."

The 35-year-old Mount Airy resident has been drag racing at 75-80 Dragway in nearby Monrovia, Frederick County, since he was old enough to drive. Before that, he went to the track to watch his uncle race.

Mayne started in the ETK Class (trophy class)with a 1967 Chevrolet Nova. Later, he raced a 1975 Chevrolet Vega inthe same class and had a 1969 Nova before his semiretirement.

As for the competitors, many probably wish Mayne still was fishing. In 1989, he finished tops in points in Class I, showing he never lost histouch during his layoff.

Last year was an off-year, as he finished 17th.

"I was playing around with the car too much," Mayne explained. "I was trying to make the car run quicker, trying different things."

And with the experimentation, Mayne lost the consistency required to win regularly in bracket racing.

"Keeping reaction time and car consistent, that's the main thing," he said. "It is difficult to win if you have a good reaction time one time and the next time youdon't. You just aren't going to win."

But competitors beware, Mayne plans on returning to his winning form this year. During the off-season, he purchased another car, a 1980 Chevrolet Monza. He removed the motor, a 400-cubic-inch, 400-horsepower Chevrolet engine, from hisCamaro and installed it in the Monza.

"I wanted to go a little faster, so I got a lighter car, " Mayne reasoned.

The car is faster.He has raced the car twice and turned in a time of 10:34 seconds compared with 10:81 on the Camaro.

"I like the car pretty good. It isstaying on the number better than my other car," he said. "I made a little money with it, too, so far."

The Monza was different, and it has taken Mayne some time to adjust.

"It is a whole different car to drive. I have to be slow on my reaction time, so I don't red-light," he said.

Like all good drivers, getting acquainted with a newcar doesn't take long, and Mayne was the runner-up on Easter Sunday.

During the week, he is a well driller and works in the family business owned by his father, Joseph Mayne. He has been drilling wells ever since he graduated from high school.

Larry Mayne works five days a week plus a half-day on Saturday, which gives him enough time togo home and get to the track Saturday afternoon.

His wife, Gail, is always at his side. She was pleased her husband returned to drag racing.

She enjoyed the races more than fishing. She didn't like sitting on the boat, so rarely went with him. With drag racing, she is there all the time.

Mayne has tried to get her to race -- he even offered her the Camaro -- but she said she would rather watch and help.

For now, he said, he is satisfied racing in Class I. His brother, Joe, runs a dragster, but Mayne is not interested in racing one right now. The brothers are always helping one another on their cars.

Mayne said he is pleased with the performance of his car so far. With the point races ready to begin this weekend, he feels ready to make a run for the title.

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