23/4/1946 - 20/5/2009
Larry Rice primarily drove Midgets but also raced in the USAC and CART Championship Car series, making two starts in the Indy 500. He won the 1973 USAC National Midget Championship. Larry Rice died 13 years ago, he was 63 , He would have been 76.
Larry Rice was born on a farm in Linden, Indiana. His father, Bob, got him started in racing, driving quarter midgets before he was ten years old.
After graduating from college he became a teacher at a school in Crawfordsville at the same time as competing in Modified Midgets at the Logansport track with his father's midget, 'Ol Blue, between 1965 and 1967. He was smooth and quick and eventually made the decision to turn pro. He moved to Indianapolis, buying a home just east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He had a major win in 1970 in 'Hut Hundred' driving for Gene Willman. He finished third in 1972 USAC National Midget championship and followed that up the next year by taking the USAC National Midget Championship title.
He was due to drive in the Indy 500 in 1974 but the Eagle Chevy never arrived though he did make one Champ car start that year at Milwaukee, dropping out on lap 12. He continued in Midgets and won USAC Silver Crown Championship in 1977 and again in 1981.
He returned to the Indy 500 in 1978, where he qualified the Lightning Offy in 30th spot, finishing the race in 11th and sharing rookie honours with Rick Mears. He qualified for Indy again in 1979 but crashed out on the 142nd lap. In all he made 5 starts in Champ cars over 6 seasons but was never given the drive that he deserved.
He spent a number of winters racing midgets in Australia and New Zealand with Gary Patterson.
In 1985 he won two legs of the '4 Crown Nationals' at the Eldora Speedway taking both the sprint and Silver Crown events and he won the Silver Crown leg at Eldora again in 1987.
He retired from racing in 1991 and turned to broadcasting, becoming a familiar face as part of ESPN’s 'Larry and Gary Show' on the popular 'Saturday Night Thunder' telecasts. After ESPN dropped Thunder, he went into the track insurance business and helped oldest son, Robbie, get into sprint cars.
A tongue cancer scare in 2000 went into remission however he was then he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005. Very few people knew of his condition and despite a courageous battle he succumbed on
He was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1993.