Larry Perkins

Full Name:
Larry Clifton Perkins
Born:
18th March 1950 (Age 69)
Murrayville, Victoria
Nationality:
Australian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Larry Perkins was the inaugural European Formula 3 Champion but he only had one real chance in Formula 1 and that was short-lived. However, once his Grand Prix adventure was over, he returned to Australia to become a touring car legend.

European debut and early F1 opportunity

His talent was evident from an early age for Perkins enjoyed success in Australian single-seaters from the moment he first raced in 1970. After three seasons and with a blossoming reputation, the "Cowangie Kid" travelled to England in 1972 to finish third in the inaugural Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton with an Elfin 620.

He raced a Formula 3 GRD during 1973 before joining Chris Amon’s new Formula 1 team for the 1974 German Grand Prix. He could not qualify the uncompetitive car and a driver that had only met with success thus far now had his doubters. So Perkins returned to F3 to win the new European Championship in 1975 with a works Ralt RT1-Toyota.

Determined to return to F1, he drove an Ensign N175-Ford for the HB Alarms-sponsored Boro team from the 1976 Spanish GP. Perkins finished eighth in Belgium in his second race but it proved another uncompetitive affair.

Brabham drive also proves disappointing

However, when Carlos Reutemann abandoned Brabham-Alfa Romeo to join Ferrari, the Australian was handed a golden opportunity as his replacement for the final three GPs of the season. However, hope turned to disappointment with Perkins only finishing once when 17th in Canada. His F1 career petered out with occasional rides for Stanley BRM and Surtees before Perkins returned home having started just 11 GPs.

Australian touring car success

He finished third on his debut at Bathurst in 1977 and it was an event that re-established Perkins’ reputation. Second a year later, Perkins teamed up with Peter Brock in the early 1980s. Their Holden Commodore dominated proceedings and won successive Bathurst 1000s from 1982 to 1984.

He formed Perkins Engineering in 1985 – setting new world records for fuel economy and responsible for the first successful solar powered car. He returned to Europe to drive a Jaguar XJR-9LM in the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours when he finished fourth with Derek Daly and Kevin Cogan in what was his third and final appearance in the race.

Perkins continued as an owner/driver in the Australian Touring Car Championship for the next two decades. Although he never won the title he continued his success at Bathurst. He dropped to last position in 1995 after contact at the start before Perkins stormed back to snatch victory in the final 10 laps. A sixth win was added in 1997 before Perkins retired in 2003 to concentrate on running his team and engineering business.