Cover photo for Larry Wayne Sexton's Obituary
Larry Wayne Sexton Profile Photo
1945 Larry 2022

Larry Wayne Sexton

August 15, 1945 — October 1, 2022

Larry Wayne Sexton, the man, the myth, the legend as described by several of his friends. He was so many things to so many people. Larry was born on a stormy night in Nashville, TN on August 15, 1945 to the late Willie D. Sexton, Sr. and Ethel O. (Phillips) Sexton. He grew up just blocks from the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, Sexton was thirteen years old when motor racing came there. Already having an interest in cars and engines at a young age-as nothing excited him more. He was involved in some form of racing for over half his life.

Larry Sexton started racing on the oval track in Nashville in the early 1960’s, having to lie about his age so he could compete, eventually achieving several feature wins. In later years he moved on to owning several round track cars at once and having competitive drivers that were unbeatable and held track records for years at a time.

In the late 60’s Larry stepped into the drag racing world building all-out race cars from the ground up. He had a variety of race cars, and he loved pulling gears, but he was mostly known for his Pure Hell Vega and Last Million. He competed in many classes such as gas, alky-dragster and comp eliminator just to name a few through the years up to around 2006. Larry built all of his own chassis, suspensions, engines, and transmissions. To this day some of his cars from the late 70’s have been updated and are still running. His last build from the ground up was a beautiful Chevy S-10 that he built for his grandson, and completed in 2017. It was also displayed that year at the PRI show held in Indy.

Larry was known for turning his naturally aspirated small block engines-singing, up to 12k rpm at times and making astonishing horsepower out of any engine he built. All of his engines had a distinctive sound. Larry set several NHRA and IHRA world records at tracks such as Atlanta, Gainesville, Bristol, Memphis, Indy as well as his home tracks of Riverside, Union Hill, Crossville and Beech Bend. Larry was the winner in Semi Pro Stock in 1985 at the last race held at Riverside Raceway.

Larry also built race cars and engines for other competitors all across the country, owning and running his own machine shop on 5th Ave. in downtown Nashville, TN known as Sexton’s Automotive and Machine Shop Service. In later years as he semi-retired, he built a machine shop behind his house located in White House, TN that was squeaky clean.

Larry loved racing and had no regrets. In addition to his world records, Larry counted among his accomplishments many developments in the area of racing suspensions and transmissions. He improved the popular Hurst vertical gate shifter, making it stronger and smoother. He also worked on the Doug Nash 5-speed transmission. He was the first to try and perfect the 4-link suspension. Larry also built a V-12 K engine for the 1935 Lincoln that won the Great American Race in 1991, as well as he assembled the engine that was in the Metro Nashville “Beat the Heat” race car. One of his unusual projects consisted of building a Big Block Chevy for a P-52 airplane that he had to do a lot of manufacturing in order for the engine to run backwards. He also had custom mini pulling tractors that were unbeatable, from taking a 16hp Kohler engine turning it into making 26hp. Larry had an interest in fully restoring many antique cars and motorscooters. There are too many accomplishments to list, but Larry knew at a young age what he wanted to do in life. He was a self-made man that loved anything with an engine, and he was always up for a challenge of any kind. The man loved working and the mind never stopped…we’re pretty sure he builds engines in his sleep. He was a much respected and admired man and his knowledge of the industry set him apart. Many people have said they wish they could bottle up his knowledge.

Larry was like a cat with more than nine lives, there isn’t much he hasn’t endured throughout his life and always managed to overcome battles. After three bouts of cancer over the years, two being lung and the latest being an aggressive form of lung cancer, Larry opted to not do treatments and chose quality of life, letting nature take its course naturally- making the days in the past year a little sweeter. Larry Wayne Sexton, at the age of 77 passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 1, 2022 at his home in White House, TN with his family and his precious dog that he loved and babied, Cookie, by his side.

Larry is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 45 years, Betty J. Sexton; their daughter, Angela (Turtle) Sexton-Dickerson and their children, Connor, Kelsey and Kendall Dickerson; daughter, Samantha (Chris) Milender and their children, Logan and Shelby Milender; daughter, Tricia Presson; several other family members and a host of friends.

Larry always maintained a sense of humor, bringing smiles and joy to all he encountered. He was quick witted and a storyteller. He had a drive for life, he was tough and such a fierce determined man. He would tell you: it’s all in your mind! He will be greatly missed and has left a legacy of his accomplishments and an imprint of his great knowledge, humor and compassion. As he has moved on to the next adventure, his family will continue on with his legacy.

As per Larry’s wishes, cremation has taken place and there will be no memorial service.

The family asks that you please make a donation to a charity of your choice or in Larry Sexton’s name to the American Cancer Society or to Alive Hospice at
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Larry Wayne Sexton, please visit our flower store.


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