Ultra4 Driver Spotlight: Lawrence "Larry" Anderson Jr.

Last week at the Brutal 2011 Ultra4 Torchmate Reno Stampede, we met a new Ultra4 Driver named Larry Anderson. Larry spent this past year building his own Ultra4 car and not only finished one heck of a tough course but also qualified for the 2012 Griffin King of The Hammers.  We wanted to learn more about Larry so we asked him a few questions. He was kind enough to give us the following information: 
Name: Lawrence Anderson Jr
Hometown: Dixon CA
Nickname: LarryRace car number: 742

Favorite Movie: On Any Sunday or Tucker


Other than race, what do you do for a living?  We own a small European Auto Repair Shop in Vacaville CA


What was your first car? 1969 VW Bug


What was your first race? This was my 1st Ultra4 race. I’ve also done sports car racing and Dist.36 AMA Motorcycle Enduros


What got you into Ultra4 Racing? My Wife.  She is a hardcore wheeler. I’ve never done it. I wanted to build a track day car, but that wasn’t going to happen. When I would talk about building a trail rig she was all in. As I built the rig it kept changing to more of a dual purpose vehicle. Ultra4/trail rig. The change really came after watching the Stampede last year.


What did you think of Stampede? The Stampede was AWESOME!!!  I’ve never had such a good time in a vehicle before. It was challenging for everyone, Driver, Co-driver, Pit crew and the vehicle. It was just a great 3 days.


What was your least favorite part of the race? I don’t have a least favorite part. Mike and I had a good time the whole way through. We had a great time even when we were changing a tire.  I suppose if we didn’t finish AND Qualify for KOH that would change my answer, but given how everything went. I have nothing to complain about.


Most favorite part? So all the people I know have asked about the race. The best part is when I’m telling a story about the race and I get to say “When I passed Shannon Campbell in the rocks” That just has to bring a smile to your face.  Yeah, Yeah I know he passed me more times than I passed him but it’s my story.


What would be your ultimate adventure? Life is an adventure


What's your next race Mike, My Wife and I are doing a Dist 36 enduro next month. The next Ultra4 race will be KOH   we don’t have the time to get the car ready for Glenn Helen or the $$$$ for more tires


How do you feel about racing Griffin King of The Hammers? Have you ever seen the movie Dust to Glory? KOH is like that. It is legendary. I don’t have any ideas of grandeur. I don’t think I can win KOH, but just being there in the race is good enough. I think soon KOH will be as well known as The Baja 1000.


Do you have a place online? (facebook, web site, etc) where we can learn more about you?  Larry Anderson on Facebook, Birkin7 on Pirate 4x4, no website for the race car at this time


Other info:  The reason this style of racing works for me and my family as compared to other forms or racing.  In other forms or racing the driver is a bit selfish. As the driver you are the only one in the car. You can’t let someone else tryout you car on the race track. Your friends and family can only watch from the stands. In this form of race, we can go on trail rides with others that have rigs or someone can ride passenger.  We let our son Anthony drive during trail runs.  During the race I have a co-driver. I’ve never had that before. On my dirt bike I’m all by myself most of the day.  During the Stampede Mike and I talked all day long. We mostly talked about the race, but we found time for a quick joke. We both have stories to tell rather than just me telling lies about what I did all day. The whole thing makes for more of a team rather than just me and my race car.


My recap of the Torchmate Reno Stampede:



First a little back story, I have only driven in the rocks twice. Both times were in my wife’s Toyota. We both have a hard time sharing the steering wheel so I have at best about 8 hours behind the wheel of her rig.

Last year we attended the Reno Stampede and participated in the club challenge with the Trailbusters. We did ok, our team tied for 2nd place. We had a great time and stayed to watch the race the next day.  My wife and I had been talking about building a second rig so that we could fix the steering wheel problem and stay married. After seeing the race I wanted a buggy with proper coil-over’s etc.  We started gathering parts to build the buggy. The dream would be to be able to drive in the King of the Hammers.

Seeming like just a dream I started to build my rig as a trail rig.  I worked on it throughout the year and as time went on the idea of The King of the Hammers grew. The rig became more race-like. I cut the thing apart several times, not happy with how things fit or work. About 2 months before the Stampede I realized that I needed help. The rig was nowhere close to being done and I would need a co-driver. After a lot of discussion about all the people we knew, my wife and I decided that Mike McMenomy our best bet. We were right. Mike dove right in and helped me get the rig done. We also got help from The Dixon 4 Wheelers and The Solano County Trailbusters.

We were working on it right up until the time we loaded it on the trailer to go to moon rocks and wring it out. (Just 3 days before the Stampede) We had some trouble, broken front ring gear and the EFI didn't want to learn at first. But we got the bugs worked out just in time to head toward Exit 32.

On Thursday we pre-ran the course. The course had some major challenges but we were able to make it through with only minor damage. Mike and I drove a slow pace. We told ourselves that that would be our race pace so that we could keep the car together and finish the race.

The next day was qualifying. We knew that we were not as fast as most of the cars out there. We ran the qualifying lap at a moderate pace. We did not jump the car at all. It was set up for it and I just didn't know how. Our qualifying lap was a 4:12, not the slowest but definitely not fast, we qualified 32nd, which is fine for us. Our first time out and we were not starting in the back. We were happy.

Race day started and I didn't feel that nervous yet. It wasn't until we were sitting it the car waiting to start that the butterflies set in. I looked over at Mike and could tell he had the butterflies too. We made it to the green flag and it was our time to go. We left the line and the butterflies left also. We went through the short course it felt much faster than it during qualifying. Our idea of a slow and steady pace for the race was gone.

In the First 17 miles we passed 3 or 4 cars; we had a close call driving through the dust. I missed a corner and nearly rolled the car into the ditch. It cost us a position as the guy behind us went past. We got her back on the road and kept going. We made it to mile marker 17 and started heading out to the rest of the long race course. We were moving along at a good pace. We were passed by Kevin Yoder as we wound our way up a hill. He passed us without a problem; Mike said I guess that’s how you pass out here. We were both impressed. Feeling good we kept going for about 15 more miles until I bumped a rock in the fast section. We had to stop and change a left rear tire. Mike and I jumped out of the truck and got straight to work, it was amazing. We had the tire changed in no time. Mike and I worked together like we had done this several times before. Back underway we headed toward the first rock section where our next problem would happen. We had an electrical malfunction that made the car stop running just as we were driving off a fairly large rock. We were expecting to use the throttle to pull the car forward but all of a sudden that was not an option. We were now sitting there with the nose pointing down, teetering on the front tires and unable to restart. We got out and went to work. The distributor didn't have power so instead of indentifying the cause we cut a wire and spliced it to the coil. The engine now running we were back under way. We went through the rocks without further problems.

We were heading towards Giants Throne, looking for every marker; we thought we were on track, but Mike staring at the GPS notices that we missed part of the course. We weren't the only ones, we were following another car that went the same way as us AND the guy behind us missed the same section. We stopped looked at the GPS and decided to turn around. We found our way and made it to remote pit. The guys replaced the spare, tightened the front differential cover and added fuel. We went through Giants Throne looking good and headed into the valley.

We were bumping along when we catch up to Tracy Jordan and Shannon Campbell. Shannon was out of his car and talking to Tracy. A moment later, Tracy is charging the hill side. Mike and I watched for a minute to see how things were going to end up. He made it up and around the cars stuck in the valley. Now it was our turn. Following his line we made it also. We passed Shannon and the other car. It won't last long. We made our way to the end of the rock section when we could hear Shannon coming on strong. He passed us and several others like we were standing still. We followed him down the road (he was way in front of us) to the last rock section. Shannon was stopped again and getting out of his car. He was all right so we went by without hesitation.

Somewhere in that last rock section we must of hit the fitting on the rear brake caliper. We were losing brake pedal. We drove the last 4 miles without brakes. We made it to the pit and the guys were all over it. A banjo fitting at the master had come loose and the crush washer on the rear caliper was leaking. They fixed the problem, bled the brakes and we were going once again.

On our second and last lap we headed out feeling good. We had seen everything the course had to offer and now we just had to do it one more time. We blew another tire in the fast section again. Mike and I got out did our thing and kept going. We didn't get lost this time heading into Giants Throne. We wave to our pit guys, honked the horn and kept going. We had to go through the valley one more time. At our normal pace, we bumped along until the left front tire when flat. We talked briefly and decided to keep going on the flat. We only had 8 miles to go. 100 feet later the rear tire was flat. Now we were screwed, we knew that going forward was not an option. We turned around and headed back to remote pit. We could not get the team on the radio so we were thinking of what else we could do.  We stopped and talked to the Wrap Concepts car. He was on his first lap and was stuck. We helped him out and asked for his tires. The only problem was that he had 42’s and we were on 39.5's we'd have to change all 4. We were pretty close to remote pit so we opted to limp back. Once we got there our team didn't get the message. Luckily for us the Rock Zombies were there. We talked with them about tires, they said the tires were ours but if we screwed them up they were really ours. We said OK and the Zombies got to work and got it done. We now had a chance of finishing once again.

Back into the valley we met up with broken car after broken car. One by one we made it through.  The mis-matched tires made the car handle funny and not funny ha-ha. We were going slower than we would have liked, but we were happy just to still be in the race.  About 6 miles from the finish we heard on the radio that we only have 30 minutes until the race was over.  We picked it up and got it done. We crossed the finish line in 8 hours and 20 minute, with only 15 minutes to spare on the clock. We got 14th place and took the 5th qualifying spot for The King of the Hammers. We did it; our dream of the Hammers is now a reality.