John Larson started his career in motor sports by drag racing in the 1950s. He then started working for Bill Smith at Speedway Motors which got him into circle track racing. John was one of the crew who built the Speedway Motors sedan in 1960. This car, with Lloyd Beckman driving was the dominant race car in the area through the 1963 season.
Larson also worked for Rod Kettleson with driver Bob Burdick and they had a very successful season in 1963 on the short tracks around Lincoln.
After his stint with Kettleson, John started his own race engine building business. His business, Larson Racing Engines, was a downtown institution for many years. He would work all day long then come home and spend the evening with his note pad sketching out ideas for his next race car or how to improve his current car. John always said it was about “Getting power to the ground.”
Larson had a very successful sprint car team in the early 1980s with J.J. Riggins as the driver. Larson also built many engines for late model racers including, Rex Nun, Dan Rabass and Clayton Peterson.
John was very detail oriented and loved to be at the track perfecting his car. Not only did he want to make the engines go faster, he wanted to make the car better. He always made sure he covered the car from end to end.
Many people in the Nebraska racing industry got their start with, or worked with Larson in some way during their career. He was always willing to take on someone young and new to teach them the trade.