Price transforms street car into winning race machine

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff
jbirchfield@starhq.com

The race car Larry Price II takes to Bristol Dragway and competes with on weekends is almost a part of the family. Unlike many other machines built specifically for racing, the 1965 Ford Falcon he runs with in the Super Pro class is the same car he drove in high school back in 1988.
"I drove it as a street car about two years," said Price about the car he's been wheeling since his days at Happy Valley High. "Then after I got out of trade school and started working full-time, I started building it as a race car. It took me about five years to get it built."
Many parts of the car are still stock, like the engine block and headlights. The powerplant originally a 351 cubic inch Windsor motor has been modified by Price as has several other pieces like the addition of safety equipment in place of the original seat harnesses and a large racing tachometer.
Racing slicks as tires and motorcycle type front wheels let you easily recognize from the outside this car has been rebuilt for something other than a Sunday afternoon cruise.
"I just love this old car," said Price. "The engine's got a stroke kit that makes it a 408 cubic inch, but it's a stroke small block. I like a car that resembles a stock looking vehicle. The headlights and all that stuff still work on it, so it's still street legal. I can still get tags other than the wipers and all have been taken off. That's why I didn't want to cut it up too bad."
The maintenance required to keep it in running order is different than that of a typical street car, but nothing like that of a Top Fuel dragster.
Unlike the rail, it doesn't require an engine tear-down after every pass, but instead is something only done in the offseason. However, where you only have to change the oil in your street car after 3000 miles to keep it in top working condition, Price changes it in the Falcon after only a few miles or in racing terms, 20 to 25 passes down the drag strip.
"The key is to get the car where you don't have to work on it all the time," said Price. "You want to get it where you just do routine maintenance and can keep the car real consistent."
Just because he's been adamant about keeping the car close to its original form, it doesn't hinder his will to win. Earlier this year, Price bested over 70 other drivers to take a win in the Super Pro class in Bristol Dragway's weekly bracket racing.
"Drag racing has gotten really big around here," said Price. "Your bracket class at Bristol is really competitive. I think it's one of the toughest NHRA sanctioned tracks around. Anywhere from 75 to 120 drivers will be there on a weekend to race in the Super Pro class.
"Overall there are over 350 racers in your trophy classes and all at Bristol. That win at Bristol was a really good win for me. It gives you a lot of satisfaction to come out of there with a win. Hopefully, I can get many more, but we just have to see how it goes."
In 1998, he scored a first career win at English Mountain Raceway near Newport. After taking those honors, he raced some at Cherokee Dragway in Rogersville. Ultimately, he wound up closer to home at Bristol and recorded two top ten finishes in the year end track championship standings.
"I finished ninth place in the point standings for 1999 and 2000," remarked Price, noted as being one of the most consistent racers at Bristol with his reaction time. "It's been a pretty good hobby to go racing. I've had a lot of help. There's a lot of work involved, but it's still fun. I've been able to use it to relax and enjoy myself and have a good time."
For a living, Larry works as an A.S.E. certified mechanic in Blountville. His wife Amy has been one of his biggest supporters as have parents, Larry and Kay Price. In his personal life, the younger Larry and Amy are expecting their first child this fall.
As a longtime speed freak, he's glad to see motorsports accepted and become so popular in our local area.
"I've always been around racing since I was small," said Price. "I used to go with my dad and uncle. They got me into it and then I had the knack of wanting to work on cars. At a young age I picked up on it and wanted to go racing.
"I like working on the car, but I get the most out of driving the car. Behind the wheel is great stress relief and that's where I feel the most comfortable."
His Falcon moves at a fast clip, topping out in the 1/8th mile at over 95 miles per hour. In the future Larry's dream is to race at over twice that speed.
"I remember the first time I got in the car after changing it over (to a race car), it took my breath away," said Price. "The power level and all felt real good.
"The dream of mine one day is to get in a Pro Stock car. Maybe later on, I can do that. I would love to drive a Pro Stock car. I just have to thank all my family and good friends and the good Lord above for giving the chance to do something like this. It's been fun." </