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Gone Racin' - Larry Mayfield Biography

Gone Racin' - Larry Mayfield Biography


Biography and photographs by Larry Mayfield.  Larry goes by his nickame Mayf on the Internet.

I have a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering (BSAE), and a Master in Engineering (ME), advanced Engineering degrees (DE), and I am a registered Professional Engineer.  My career at The Boeing Company, first in Airplanes (flight test of the first 737; Minuteman I, II &III and Peacekeeper ICBMs; a stint in Oak Ridge and finally as the Test Program Manager in Hunstville for all the Boeing and later associate built Internation Space Station hardware put in orbit initally.)  I was a civilian engineer of the year for the USAF and Employee of the year several times for Boeing while on the miliatary programs.

I did invent some things for Boeing, one of which was an advanced single axis magnetically levitated gyroscope that was to be used on the Star Wars programs.  I devised a control system that permitted a space craft to point at any region of the heavens by manipulating the forces on the spin axis.  I participated in a video on the salt flats in 2006 for National Geographic.  I was one of those followed by National Geographic.  See "Salf Flats Speedway." [1] I am not a geologist or salts flats expert.  I just made some observations and added some minor arithmetic to bolster the notion that it is partially our fault that the salt is disappearing as fast as it is.

I was born in Anson, Texas some 73 odd years ago.  It is a town in the middle of nowhere, and at that time about 3,500 people lived there, but it has since shrunk down to about 2,500 residents.  I went to grade schools there and in Lueders, Texas.  I moved to California in 1956 and spent the summer on the beach and then attended Oxnard Union High School, graduating there in 1960.  A high school counselor told me to forget going to college, so I went to work instead.

My first job was canning fish and lima beans at a small cannery in Oxnard.  From there, I went on to welding as a career.  This lasted until 1963, and I decided I was tired of being burned by sparks all the time.  I decided to drive up to San Luis Obispo, California and chat with the Aero department head.  I asked him what it took to gain admission and he told me to just fill out the administrative form.  I did, and in the summer of 1966, I graduated with a BS in Aero Engineering.  I went to work on the first flight test of the 737 airliner in Seattle with Boeing and I stayed with Boeing for my entire career.

In 1972, I married the true love of my lifeand I still have her, and I think that I'll keep her for another 43 years.  Both of us decided to continue our education; Cathy earning a BS in Biochemistry and me with a ME (Masters) degree.  We transferred to Seattle where our crew grew by one, our son number one.  I entered the University of Washington in the Nuclear Engineering Department.  Cathy and I stayed in Seattle for only 4 years.  I passed my Professional Engineering test and am still a registered licensed Engineer.  I was made a Supervisor of The Boeing Company in Seattle.  We then moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a project for DOE (Department of Energy) where I gained some additional education in some subjects that I can't really talk about and had to sign some serious nondisclosure paperwork with the Federal Government.

In Oak Ridge, I had some time to fiddle with special hardware and in the process developed some interesting but unmentionable hardware.  I gained more advanced education there and was in charge of R7D.  Our family crew size grew by one more, son number two.  We moved to Vandenberg AFB, Califronia for another four years, during which I made Engineering Manager for the Peacekeeper ICBM test program, which was centered there at VAFB.  A special situation put me in front of a whole lot of Air Force's Comman Structure at the top.  I achieved the Air Force Civilian Engineer of the Year.  One night around midnight, an old boss, an Executive Officer of the Company, called me and asked if I wanted to retire at VAFB or go to Hunstville, Alabama.  I decided to go to Hunstville, of course.

I finished my advanced degree and was assigned to be the International Space Station Test Program Manager in Hunstville, for Boeing.  I reported directly to the Chief Engineer, and laterally to the Vice President in charge of the program.  I worked there until I decided that the actuarial tables (life span age) might be true and retired early.  I retired from Boeing in 1997 after a really wonderful career.

After retirement I needed a project to keep me out from under Cathy's feet.  She still worked and had changed her career from Biochemistry.  She is a published author of papers dealing with cholseterol and lipids and the drugs that we use today.  I decided I wanted to go drag racing and decided on a Sunbeam for the vehicle.  Keith Turk helped me see the error of my ways and go into land speed racing instead.  After some research on Sunbeams, I found taht the very first car to set a record over 200 mph was a Sunbeam; go fiture.  So I decided to see if I could best that mark because at the time, it was an 80 year old Sunbeam record.  After wrestling with bad turbocharger waste gates, I finally achieved a flying mile average exceeding the old Sunbeam's speed by 1.5 mph.  The old record was held by a Sunbeam with a 44 liters total using twin Matabelle aircraft engines, 500 hp each for a sum of 1000 hp.  Matabelle was Sunbeam's aircraft engine designation as they built the engines also.  The car was a monstrous brute; 19,000 pounds, chain drive in 1927 on the sand at Daytona Beach.  My Sunbeam had a small block Ford motor, with a turbo.  Ford small blocks came in the Tiger version of Sunbeam and I even have one of those.  My race car was a real Sunbeam, but there are a couple out there that fit mod sports with not one single Sunbeam part on them.  They are still adjudicated to be Sunbeams. I now own the record for the fastest Sunbeam on Planet Eart, by the STOC (England) and other clubs and owner's organizations.

My car is still a Sunbeam.  It has a few less cubic inches than the 1927 car, while mine was 5 litres.  I had fun racing, but now the car is parked.  I have a new motor which is a true E motor size and ready to run again.  I went last year, but the salt was very poor at the USFRA World of Speed (WOS) event at Bonneville.  If anyone is interested in the WOS event where I went the fastest, please log onto my very, very noncommercial and bug free website at  At the top, there is a link to an Adobe pdf file with everything you ever wanted to know about the car and its trials and tribulations.

[1] National Geographic magazine tracked me through the first appearance on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2006 by coming to our house in Pahrump, Nevada and videoing the start of the drive and return to home base.  At the Salt, the magazine also videoed me doing everything, except that which occurs in the portable potties.  National Geographic also filmed Skip Hedrick.

Gone Racin' is at [email protected]. Larry Mayfield is at [email protected].  Web site is Go ahead, surf around.