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Local senior citizen competes in Las Vegas car race

Oxford resident Larry Roesner standing next to the car he raced in Las Vegas. (click for larger version)
August 20, 2014 - It's been years since Larry Roesner raced hydroplane power boats, but he still has the "need for speed."

The 77-year-old Oxford resident returned home last week after competing in the Las Vegas-13 Chump Car World Series Endurance Race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"The race I selected was a 13-hour endurance race," Roesner explained.

It consisted of a 22-degree high bank NASCAR track and an inside road course that consisted of 11 turns, for a total of 2.5 miles.

"One-and-half miles were on the oval and one mile was on the road course," he said. "The way they had it set up, the infield road course had a 1,000-foot straightaway, so you had lots of turns, but you also had some high speed, too."

Roesner was the behind the wheel of a 1993 BMW 325i. His team included him and two other drivers. "You could not drive over two hours. It was mandatory to change drivers every two hours," he said.

"We were changing about every hour-and-a-half because it was so hot," he said. "When we started the race it was about 100 degrees. (The race ran from) 7 p.m. to 8 a.m."

Not only was the race a challenge because it mixed both NASCAR and Le Mann racing styles , but there were also no track lights on the course.

"It was all done headlights only," Roesner said. "On the high bank, it wasn't that difficult, but on the road course, you had nothing to judge where your corners were."

The drivers were dressed in racing gear, just like the pros wear, explained Roesner.

One of the big differences he noticed from pro racing was when they entered the pit, every driver was required to take five minutes with no exceptions.

"When you come into the pits, they stop you, then they slap a timer on you, then you go to your spot and you do your thing," he said. "Then, when you go out, they take the timer off the top of your car. Then, they are very slow about putting their hand down when it gets to five minutes."

Out 29 cars that entered the race, 14 of them were still running and able to finish.

Roesner was one of the lucky ones who got to both start the race and bring home the checkered flag. His team finished 12th and the other car they had in the race finished 14th.

"We were the only team that had two cars in the race," he noted.

In those 13 hours, Roesner said they completed 264 laps and 2,904 road course turns. They completed 396 miles on the oval track and 204 miles on the road course, for a total of 600 miles.

Being able to participate in the race was a Christmas present from his son last year.

"It's one hell of a Christmas gift," he said.

Roesner's love for racing started way back when he built his first hydroplane in high school in 1955.

"We were just out on the lake having fun (racing) and then (I) stayed with it," he said.

"I had competed in (hydroplane racing) for years and won the Midwest championship series back in 1985."

He wasn't the only one who enjoyed it.

His wife, Lois, was one the first female hydroplane racers in the world.

Not only has he enjoyed boats and cars, but Larry has also gone on snowmobile expeditions, right to the Arctic sea in Finland and he can be seen cruising around town on his Honda motorcycle. From time to time, he still goes to some of the inboard hydroplane races held locally.

"It's still in my blood," he said.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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