8 episodes

In 1960s Los Angeles, after the catastrophic Watts riots, an outsized character emerged — one who found an unexpected way to unite people across race and class. Odds are you’ve never heard of him. From L.A. Times Studios, the team behind “Dirty John” and “Man in the Window,” comes “Larger Than Life,” a docu-series about Big Willie Robinson, a 6-foot-6, muscle-bound street racer who preached peace a quarter-mile at a time. Cops and criminals, movie stars and miscreants, even Crips and Bloods — out at the drag strip, Big Willie could get them all to see eye to eye, easing tensions and making L.A. a safer and more unified place. For a time, he was a celebrated figure in L.A. — but today his legend has faded. What caused him to fall into obscurity? Reported, written and hosted by Daniel Miller from the L.A. Times. Produced by L.A. Times Studios and Neon Hum Media. Photo Illustration by Wondery.

Larger Than Life Wondery

    • Documentary

In 1960s Los Angeles, after the catastrophic Watts riots, an outsized character emerged — one who found an unexpected way to unite people across race and class. Odds are you’ve never heard of him. From L.A. Times Studios, the team behind “Dirty John” and “Man in the Window,” comes “Larger Than Life,” a docu-series about Big Willie Robinson, a 6-foot-6, muscle-bound street racer who preached peace a quarter-mile at a time. Cops and criminals, movie stars and miscreants, even Crips and Bloods — out at the drag strip, Big Willie could get them all to see eye to eye, easing tensions and making L.A. a safer and more unified place. For a time, he was a celebrated figure in L.A. — but today his legend has faded. What caused him to fall into obscurity? Reported, written and hosted by Daniel Miller from the L.A. Times. Produced by L.A. Times Studios and Neon Hum Media. Photo Illustration by Wondery.

    Ep. 7: The Last Race | 7

    Ep. 7: The Last Race | 7

    Big Willie Robinson’s decision to make himself into a myth ends in tragedy. An effort to understand his legacy leads to a harrowing street race in Compton, and, ultimately, a question: What does it really mean to be larger than life?

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 36 min
    Ep. 6: Shut Down | 6

    Ep. 6: Shut Down | 6

    As the drug trade and gang violence of the 1980s engulf South Los Angeles, Big Willie Robinson finds himself without a racetrack and sees his influence waning. But after the city burns again, he seizes a chance to start anew.

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 38 min
    Ep. 5: The Lie | 5

    Ep. 5: The Lie | 5

    A startling revelation about Big Willie Robinson leads to a reappraisal of the street racer and his mission. As members of the Brotherhood of Street Racers try to make sense of his secret, a new truth emerges.

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 35 min
    Ep. 4: Fast and Famous | 4

    Ep. 4: Fast and Famous | 4

    Big Willie Robinson has a surprising career turn in the entertainment industry, working as an actor, rubbing shoulders with A-listers and appearing in some iconic 1970s films. He even has connections to the “The Fast and the Furious” and “Star Wars” film franchises.

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 33 min
    Ep. 3: Run Whatcha Brung | 3

    Ep. 3: Run Whatcha Brung | 3

    Banned from street racing in L.A. in the early 1970s, Big Willie Robinson becomes fixated with building a racetrack for the Brotherhood of Street Racers. He wants a place where all are welcome — even cops and criminals — but can he pull it off?

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 30 min
    Ep. 2: Becoming Big Willie | 2

    Ep. 2: Becoming Big Willie | 2

    In the five years after the 1965 Watts riots, Big Willie Robinson meets the love of his life, gets the car of his dreams, forges ties with the LAPD and starts the Brotherhood of Street Racers.

    Learn more about the story, sign up for new episode alerts and go behind the scenes at latimes.com/LTL

    • 31 min

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