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.

Larger Than Life Wondery

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.2 • 784 Ratings

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.

    The Last Race

    The Last Race

    Episode 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
    Shut Down

    Shut Down

    Episode 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
    The Lie

    The Lie

    Episode 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
    Fast and Famous

    Fast and Famous

    Episode 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
    Run Whatcha Brung

    Run Whatcha Brung

    Episode 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
    Becoming Big Willie

    Becoming Big Willie

    Episode 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

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
784 Ratings

784 Ratings

EminenceGris ,

All heroes are imperfect

We like to imbue our heroes with all kinds of powers and we like to listen to their heroic stories and build them up.
This however is a story about a legend who was both more and less than he seemed.
Big Willie Robinson was a legend. He had a very positive impact on a segment of society at the time when it was needed.
His flaws were small in comparison to the good he did. But as with a lot of heroes, he faded from memory and ended diminished.
The story is fascinating complex and well told I recommend listening to this podcast for anyone interested in the history of Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s.

trucker Bryan ,

Old racer

Great podcast, I was a street racer in the early 90’s after high school. It was great to go back in time.
Now I’m a hazmat trucker Otr and appreciate these story podcast and hope y’all do more

Thank you

JayGK. ,

Amazing tell all about a man who was larger than life

I really enjoyed the seven part series about big Willie Robinson. It spoke about his origins to his highlights career highlights to his ultimate end. If you want to learn more about a man who lived, give this series a listen.

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