Molzen inducted to racing Hall of Fame
PLYMOUTH CO. -- Earlier this month, Larry Molzen, a Le Mars area native, went into the Huset's Hall of Fame, in Brandon, S.D.
Molzen was born and raised in Le Mars and now lives in Hinton.
He runs his business, Larry's Auto, Inc., in Merrill.
This month, Molzen was inducted into the Huset's Hall of Fame, where he won two championships racing in the six-cylinder division in 1974 and the B-modified division in 1976.
Molzen said when he got the call from Huset's saying he was being recognized, it caught him off guard.
"I was very honored. It came unexpected. They called me late last winter or early in the spring and told me that it was going to happen and it caught me completely by surprise. I was very honored to do that," Molzen said.
Molzen said he found his passion for cars at young age.
"I grew up around cars. I've had cars since I was 16 years old and back in that time, in the early 60s, everybody takes a lot of pride in their cars. A lot of my friends were drag racing at the time. So, it just kind of came natural," Molzen said.
His first car was a 1939 Chevy that his dad bought for him, and he began drag racing in 1962.
But a fire in his garage in 1969 made him lose his drag racing car, along with 10 to 12 motorcycles he was repairing and all of his tool and equipment at Larry's Automotive, in Le Mars.
After the fire, he moved out to his parent's farms in the country nine miles west of Le Mars, where he farmed.
Molzen built a new shop and did truck and tractor repairs.
In the same year, before he moved out to the country, he bought a 1934 Ford from Lloyd Lee, from South Sioux City, Neb., and then he took it to Collins Field, in Le Mars, where he had a man working for him, Ralph Peterson, drive the car.
After the fire, he made the switch to stock car racing.
Collins Field, in Le Mars, closed in the late 1960s and Molzen headed to Huset's with his No. 00 stock car, where he won two championships.
Molzen was partners with his friend, Marlyn "Whitey" Renken, of Brunsville, and they both owned cars that Molzen raced at Huset's.
Molzen said he and his team's hard work paid off when they won both titles.
"Winning a championship in both divisions in the six-cylinder and B-modified division, it was a goal everybody had and only a few of us accomplished, I guess. It was something that we were pretty honored to do," Molzen said.
But after he won his two championships at Huset's, Molzen bought a sprint car to race in the 1977 season.
However, a crash in 1977 ended his season and career.
Molzen said he was fortunate to come out of the crash alive.
"We were right in the middle of the A-feature, the big race that night. Just got tangled up with another car in the corner, rolled several times and landed on the roof. It rung my bell pretty good," Molzen said. "I was unconscious when they took me out of there. I was in and out of unconsciousness for a day or two. Then perceived to get better. I had some broken bones and stuff. I was just lucky to survive it, I guess."
Molzen was in the hospital for four days after the crash and suffered a broken collarbone, fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
But looking back on his career, Molzen said going into the Huset's Hall of Fame was special for him, considering not many are chosen for the honor.
"It means that I joined a bunch of people that (have) done the same thing I have. Everybody in the Hall of Fame (is) not just drivers. There's mechanics, owners and all different aspects of racing. It's just a few of us that get to do that. It felt good," Molzen said.
Molzen said going into the Hall of Fame was especially unique, as he is the first person inducted from Le Mars.
"I would be the only one from this community that's ever done it for sure growing up from that track and winning those championships and being in the hall of fame. It's kind of cool," Molzen said.