Trevor Larson blasted onto the scene in a friend’s new Super Gas roadster in July and made quick and impressive progress to earn his first NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Gas world title.
When farming has been part of your family’s livelihood for multiple generations but a passion for drag racing courses through your veins, a certain balance is generally necessary. For Super-class racer Trevor Larson, his success during the 2023 season didn’t have much to do with balance, however. Larson blasted onto the scene in a friend’s new Super Gas roadster in July and made quick and impressive progress to earn his first NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Gas world title.
Minnesota-native Larson, now a seven-time division champion, hadn’t even planned to compete in the 9.90 class. He was going to run Super Comp while wife Kendra raced Top Dragster and his father, Richard, ran Super Street. With two boys to raise – ages 1 and 3 – and a soybean and corn farm to tend, that seemed like plenty. Friend Chris Hess, however, disrupted Larson’s scheduled activities with a midseason proposition.
“Chris bought a Danny Nelson roadster last winter – the only one he built – and he just didn’t have time to race it,” said Larson. “So, he asked me to test it for him in Topeka, and I runner-upped. He called me right afterwards and said, ‘You’re running it the rest of the year; you’ve got to try to run for the division championship.’ I thought that would be cool, but I had no plan to run for the national championship.”
Larson’s plans for the season changed dramatically when he unexpectedly reached the final round at the Heartland Motorsports Park division race –- an event he was racing with the sole intention of testing the Corvette roadster owned by friend Chris Hess.
Larson made his first entry on his Super Gas scorecard with the Heartland Motorsports Park final, and with the encouragement of Hess, he entered the national event in Brainerd with the ’63 Corvette roadster. There, he logged a semifinal finish and kept right on trucking with final-round appearances at division races at Yellowstone Dragstrip in Montana and Earlville, Iowa’s Tri-State Raceway. At that point, Larson was fairly certain he could lock up the division and hang up his hat for the year with one more good race.
“We ended up winning Tulsa [Okla.], and then we were right in the middle of what is usually the thick of the busy season of harvest,” said Larson. “I didn’t think I’d go anywhere else, and with my schedule, Dallas was never going to happen. But we got a bunch of rain and got late with crops getting in – we were in soybean harvest still and not yet into corn harvest – and it was a slower pace.”
Larson, near lane, got the nod over former champ Luke Bogacki in the final round of the division race in Tulsa, Okla., bolstering his position to win the division and making him a clear contender for the national title.
Mother Nature’s timing lined up an interesting scenario, and an unexpected plan was hatched at the last minute. The roadster, which Hess had driven at the St. Louis doubleheader, would be transported by fellow racers George Meyer and Bruce Johnson to Texas Motorplex for the national event, and Larson would fly in and race, lessening time away from the farm.
“I called Kendra and half-jokingly asked what she thought, and she said, ‘Let’s make it happen,’ ” recalled Larson. “She was very supportive.”
Larson jetted off to Dallas and made his way through eliminations, halting Sherman Adcock – the hottest driver in the first half of the season – in the third round, knocking out championship contender Austin Williams in round four and putting Vern Rowland on the trailer in the semifinals. In the final, Larson launched ahead of Steve Collier and ran closer to the 9.90 for a win that really disrupted his traditional schedule.
The win at the Texas Motorplex NHRA FallNationals was pivotal. From there, Larson was committed to chasing the world title.
“I told Chris, ‘This is the worst thing that could have happened – I have a chance, now I’m forced to go,’ ” said Larson with a chuckle before taking a humble tone. “My dad, my wife, they were like, ‘You have to go.’ We were in corn harvest then, and I’m very lucky to have had so much support. My dad, mom, and one other guy finished everything while I was gone.”
Larson raced the national and divisional events at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway without his family by his side, and a runner-up at the division race kept him well in the hunt. When Larson won the second round of eliminations on Saturday morning at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip, the deal was done. Larson was .040 at the Tree next to Kim Will, who was .049, and he got it done with a perfect 9.900 to his opponent’s 9.913.
“I won’t forget that run,” said Larson. “I was dead late, but luckily, she was a little bit later than I was. I thought I killed plenty, and I knew driving through the finish line I should be good, but my heart sunk a little bit because I knew I took too much stripe. My win light came on, and I knew I had done it – but it was hard to believe.
“[Early in the season], everybody – even me – said that Sherman Adcock was going to win this, and everybody else was just racing for second. We’ve had a pretty incredible season, and I wouldn’t change it. This has been a goal of my dad and mine since I started racing 20 years ago. To win this is huge for me.”
Trevor Larson celebrated his first NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world title on stage in Pomona with young son Slade.
Larson, whose plans for the new year include debuting a brand-new Mullis Race Cars roadster, thanked wife Kendra, sons Slade and Tate, parents Richard and Sandy, in-laws Terry and Debie Robinson, Chris and Shelly Hess and family, Dan Smith, George Meyer, Bruce Johnson, and Trevor Jelinski. He expressed gratitude toward Product Engineering fuel pumps, K&N, Gary Heuer at #1 Stop, AutoMeter Products, Jordan Pratt at Top End Graphics, Kris Whitfield at Dialed-In Details, Dean Dubbin at DMP Awnings, Tim Hallberg Transmissions, Glenn Gordon and Toby Giese at G&J Performance Fabrication, and Lance Line at Line Performance.
|2023 TRACK RECORD 680 Points
|Heartland Motorsports Park (Div. 5)
|Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
|Yellowstone Dragstrip (Div. 6)
|Tri-State Raceway (Div. 5)
|Tulsa Raceway Park (Div. 4)
|NHRA Texas FallNationals
|The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Div. 7)
|In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals
This article originally appeared in the Year in Review issue of National Dragster.