People, Places & Racing News

Larry Henry of Direct Connection/MOPAR Performance Passes Away

By SEMA Editors

Larry Henry passed away January 4. He had been experiencing health issues, which developed into an aggressive cancer. 

Henry was born October 31, 1942, in East Liverpool, Ohio. He enjoyed a lifetime in the world of automotive performance and racing. His first job was working the counter of a NAPA parts store in California, which lasted only a short time, until he jumped at the opportunity to join Keith Black Racing as the parts manager. In 1969, he moved to Detroit and joined Chrysler’s budding performance and race parts group, where he stayed for 30 years.  

Henry helped develop the first Chrysler Performance Parts catalog in 1970. It was an eight-page typed black-and-white brochure for hardcore racing parts.  MOPAR Performance had separately introduced a performance parts program of its own called “Hustle Stuff” in 1968, and the two programs were soon combined.  

Henry was part of the new combined group, and became a key contributor to every performance and race parts catalog from then on. The group’s first catalog was titled “1971 Drag Racing Parts Catalog.”  In 1981, the program was titled Direct Connection, and eventually became MOPAR Performance with Henry as a mainstay.

In 1975, the Chrysler Kit Car parts program came about. It was the industry’s first “over-the-counter” complete race car kit from an automobile manufacturer. Henry was an integral part of the development team and he managed the end result.
Over the years, Larry had many specific titles at Direct Connection and MOPAR Performance. He was a racer and enthusiast liaison and manager for all forms of motorsports and a drag-racing manager for all corporate-sponsored teams.

Henry’s technical and historical knowledge of Chrysler products, trim, colors and accessories was widely recognized. That background led him to be included in Chrysler’s Historical Group, which planned the Chrysler Museum.  He received honors from clubs, organizations and the industry.  In 2017, he was inducted into the MOPAR Collector's Guide “MOPAR Hall of Fame.”

Retirement took the Henrys to Buckeye, Arizona, in 1999. He is survived by his wife Glenda, four children, six grandchildren and his brother Hiram. The family has created a virtual memorial. Henry requested that donations in his name be made to Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation.