Feature Vehicle

Larry Maddox’s Baja Preunner Chevy turned Ford

Recently we wrote an article on the return of the Roseanne Trophy Truck that formerly belonged to Class 8 legend Dave Shoppe. If you haven’t read it, you should make sure you add it to your list and read it here. While Race-Dezert was out there, Dave’s former Co-driver Larry Maddox showed up in his General Tire Chevy Prerunner. This truck is so unique we thought it deserves its own feature. But as you are reading this, you may notice it does not look like a Chevy at all because it is in disguise. Yes, it is not a Ford F150; it is indeed a Chevy C10 pickup cut up and transformed to look like an F150 to fit in with the Ford Racing program. But when we first saw it, we thought it was indeed a Ford, but upon further inspection of the cab and engine, you can figure out it is not a Ford. But why would Larry build a Chevy to look like a Ford? This is the story of Larry Maddox’s C10 and its transformation into a Baja Prerunner.

Before getting into the truck, we have to highlight Larry Maddox just for those who may not be familiar with his involvement in offroad racing in the 80s and 90s. Larry was amongst the greats originally from Hemet, California, and grew up with offroad legends – Rod Hall, Larry Minor, and Dave Shoppe. In fact, Larry met Dave in 1944.

Larry owned a motorcycle dealer in the area and would race motorcycles. It wasn’t until he got in the truck with Dave to go co-drive with him, he would end up racing with him for almost eight years and help lead them to consecutive Class 8 championships. Upon Dave’s withdrawal from offroad racing in the early 90s, Larry got a call from Chrysler to campaign the Class 1 Jeep Grand Cherokee built by Russ Wernimont. This was an opportunity that he was able to get out of the car and manage a team with hopes of winning a championship under Chrysler.

Before Jeep offered a V8, they had to utilize as much of the original drivetrain as possible. With Jack Johnson behind the wheel, they led races but couldn’t finish them, it just couldn’t stay together; it was just too much power for the straight-six racing engine. However, they gave it their all and did see some success. When Chrysler discontinued the program, Larry decided it was time to entirely pull out of off-road racing and focus on his hot rods.

Ok, back to the truck. 

Larry had a Chevy Class 8 C10 Prerunner with a 396 punched out to make a staggering 575 hp with a 9:1 compression ratio to run on Mexican pump gas. It pulled an impressive 15 inches of wheel travel all around with three Rancho shocks per corner. This was his truck and his contribution to the Shoppe Racing program. Before they were on a factory Ford Racing program Shoppe was racing a Chevy, and they already had this Prerunner.

 “At the time our team Darrell built it, Dave had just switched to racing with Ford, and instead of buying a Ford … which we should have done – we built the Chevy to be like the Ford. I Beam, headlights, it became a conversation piece.”

“I used to give demo rides to the Ford executives in Mexico at the Baja races to get them excited about the race. They would come in Dave would assign me two or three of them and would take them out on the trail, do some jumps and go fast. Most of them were scared to death, but they didn’t even know it was a Chevy.”

Larry told a great story to me. “One morning I am sitting there at the hotel, and I had the hood off – I was checking the oil. one of the bigger Ford Executives walked up behind me and said, “You can’t have this truck it has a Chevy motor in it,” and I told him ‘Oh you noticed?”

Larry and Dave would run races in Mexico, and someone on their team would be driving this truck on the highway in parallel and could hop on racecourse just in case anything happened to the race truck; they could take parts off of it Prerunner and be on their way.

A the San Felipe 250, Dave and Larry were doing 70 mph in the sand wash and broke a front tie rod the rolled six times. Larry called the Prerunner on the radio to tell them what happened, and by the time they were finished rolling, the team was already there with a strap flipping them over. Before you know it, they were back in the race.

Over 20 years ago, he sold it to a friend and recently just bought it back. Now it is back in his life, and he even registered for the road. He is still out-driving it around town, enjoying it with its original General Tire livery. Larry Plans on potentially racing NORRA with the truck and be reunited with Baja. Whatever he does, we know it is going to be incredible; this is such a unique truck with a remarkable story. Is this the first-ever I Beam chevy? We aren’t sure, but it could be!