Hoff, 50, is still running on all cylinders at 75-80

ON MOTOR SPORTS

December 21, 1997|By Stan Dillon | Stan Dillon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It is not surprising that Larry Hoff is considered an institution at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia. The Westminster native has been one of the tougher drivers to beat at the track since 1965.

Hoff, 50, probably has helped more people get started in drag racing than anyone at the track. He is someone other drivers, young and old, look up to, and they know he is always there to help anyone, especially if they own a Ford.

"I try to help anybody I can," said Hoff. "I've been on that boat before where I needed help and I know how it feels. I just want to do the same for others and know they would do the same thing for me. That's what I like about racing. Everyone gets along with one another.

"I know I helped at least four of my nephews to get started," said Hoff. "They are all good drivers. They watched me race, and then, the next thing you know, I'm racing against them."

As nice as he is off the track, he remains very competitive on it. Over the years, he has had his share of big wins, among them several Ford Meets at 75-80, and he has been part of the bracket final team at least 12 times.

The past couple years, he hasn't raced for points, which has allowed him to help competitors even more. He has even lended his car to drivers with mechanical problems in the midst of the point race.

"I hadn't run for points for a few years, because you have to be there all the time," said Hoff. "You have to put everything else aside. If you miss a night, you can drop a couple places."

Hoff has had most of his success with a 1967 Ford Mustang, a car that that gave him his biggest thrill in racing -- winning the 1986 Ford Motorsports Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. He's planning to bring out a 1988 Mustang next year.

"I've had the 1967 Mustang since 1981," said Hoff. It's been a real good car. I had a real good season with it last year, and it stayed together all year. I guess I should keep running it, but it's about time to try something new and go with the flow. I'll still keep the '67 for a spare."

He said his new car is faster, doing the quarter-mile around 11 seconds, sometimes in the high 10s. That's 10-to-15 mph faster than the older car.

"It's more up-to-date and cost a lot more money. I guess you can say I got to keep up with my competitors. I do most of the work myself, and Chuck Taylor of Westminster and Charlie Spealman of Taneytown help me with the motors and transmission."

Hoff has seen a lot of changes over the years in drag racing. Some he likes and some he doesn't.

While he feels that the move to more and more electronic and computerized equipment has taken a lot of driving away from the driver, he still believes that bracket racing (which handicaps the faster car so that both cars reach the finish line together in HTC perfect race) keeps the racing competitive.

Hoff notices that more and more drivers are going to dragsters in Class I but doubts he'll follow.

"The dragsters are tough to beat," said Hoff. "You don't have to build as big a motor to make them go as fast. They are lighter, and at 1,600 pounds weigh about 1,000 pounds less than my car. But fast cars don't always win, and besides, I like race cars with doors on. It is just one of those things."

With racing being a big part of his life, Hoff has no plans on retiring. "I'll probably race until 75-80 closes down and I sell my car to my nephews. I don't believe in traveling to much to race, and 75-80 is close to home."

But until that time arrives, drivers young and old will continue to look up to Larry Hoff for guidance and advice because they know he won't steer them wrong.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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