Butch 'The California Flash' Leal

By Bob McClurg
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Born and raised in central California, Larry “Butch” Leal was obsessed with cars from a very early age. What began with field cars turned into hard work and new Chevrolets. This took place when the golden era of drag racing was in its infancy, and Leal joined with enthusiasm. He performed well at the track with his early Chevys and had an impressive number of wins before he was out of high school. His success brought him plenty of attention and collaboration with other big names in the sport.

In 1963, GM pulled out of the sport on an official basis. As a result, Butch (at age 19) teamed up with Mickey Thompson and joined the Ford camp, securing a ride with the factory team and its new Thunderbolts for 1964. After his success that season, including winning the Super Stock (S/S) class at the 1964 NHRA US Nationals in Indianapolis, Mopar came calling, and Butch signed on to race the new altered-wheelbase cars in match races for 1965, as the NHRA did not have a class for these new “funny” looking cars. While Leal dabbled again with Ford and Chevrolet later, his relationship with Chrysler lasted well into the following decades, running both Funny Cars and Super Stockers.

Penned by talented automotive historian Bob McClurg, who was there for it all, and featuring full collaboration with the book’s subject, Butch “The California Flash” Leal covers the span of his fascinating career during arguably the most interesting era in drag racing history. Butch was an 11-time NHRA champion and 4-time recipient of Car Craft magazine’s All-Star Driver of the Year award in a career that spanned the 1960s through the 1990s. It’s all here, the events, great vintage photography, and the stories from one of the best storytellers the NHRA has ever known. Add this entertaining volume to your drag racing library today.
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Cartech, Inc.
Softcover, 160 pages

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