Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Big Willie" Robinson, 1942 - 2012

This gent was famous in L.A. He was a big man in more ways than one. I met him once an awfully long time ago.


"Big Willie" Robinson was a 6-foot-6, 300-pound former Los Angeles street racer, a gentle giant who promoted organized drag racing as a way to unite people of all races and classes and ease racial tensions.

"When you get around cars, man, there ain't no colors, just engines," he told The Times in 1981.

Willie Andrew Robinson III, 69, the founding president of the National and International Brotherhood of Street Racers that ran a drag strip on Terminal Island for many years, died Saturday of an infection that led to heart failure at Sharon Care Center in Los Angeles, said Bill Chaffin, a close friend.

"Every time that track was open, crime went down," Chaffin said. "Pretty much all the cops knew [that] when Willie's track is open, it definitely makes a difference." And, he said, "virtually all the street racing stopped because now they had a place to go."

Here's a video from the Street Racers' website linked to above:

Willie took his checkered flag. Burn rubber through them Pearly Gates, bud!

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