Many race car drivers get behind the wheel of their first race car when they are as young as four or five years old. For Larry Crisp it was at age 72.
“It is never too late to get behind the wheel of a race car,” Crisp said.
Crisp first tested the waters in both the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience and Mario Andretti’s Open Wheel Racing programs. It was there where he knew he had to experience more.
“I did that a few times but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I wanted to have cars out here with me.”
And so the decision was made to build a race car and race competitively.
Crisp started racing three years ago in the Mini Stock division at Showtime Speedway in Pinellas Park. After racing a full season he made the move to Citrus County to a house just 15 minutes from the Citrus County Speedway.
“It’s been fun,” Crisp said of the Inverness venue. “I really like the racetrack.”
Last season, Crisp finished fifth overall in Don’s Plumbing Pure Stock points. He recorded nine top 10 finishes throughout 19 race events.
“I was really happy with how the races went last year,” he said of his successful 2018 season. “I try not to do anything that causes a wreck and just have fun. I am just out here to race.”
Last season Crisp competed with hardly a mark on the car — something even the most seasoned veteran drivers cannot accomplish.
“There was one time when I spun out of turn 4 and I figured I was going to do a NASCAR spin and just keep going,” he said. “But instead I drove it right into the wall.”
This season, Crisp found himself in a similar situation when, on opening night and on a wet track, he hit the wall again.
“I hit the wall really hard and spent the last two weeks getting it back together,” he said.
He finished 14th out of 15 cars that night, but came back two weeks later to post a top 10 finish.
“I’ve got a lot of bent bumpers to show for it,” he said. “I am definitely still learning, but I got my one hit into the wall already for this year.”
And as far as the competition goes Crisp knows he can drive and continue to learn and grow as a competitor without other drivers trying to knock him off the track.
“It takes a long time to learn the secrets (of racing and being competitive),” he said.
“Some people think I’m crazy,” the now almost 75-year-old Crisp said. “It just feels good that I can do it. And, as long as I can get in and out of the car, I’ll keep doing it.”
When not racing, Crisp is a volunteer with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office as a Public Service Officer.
Larry Crisp will take his No. 56 Don’s Plumbing Pure Stock car into race action as part of Saturday night’s race card that includes the 40-lap Southern Sprint Cars, 25-lap Don’s Plumbing Pure Stocks, 25-lap Modified Minis and 25-lap Mini Stocks.
Citrus County Speedway is located 2 miles south of Inverness at the Citrus County Fairgrounds.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m. Grandstand admission is $10, children 17 and younger $5, children 6 and younger free.