, who has lived in Breck since the early 1970s, hopes to compete in next summer's annual race outside of Reno, Nev.
BRECKENRIDGE - Larry Hardy
is happiest when he's
30 feet in the air, going 230 miles an hour.
"I fell in love with the town," Hardy
said, recalling the rainy day he
pulled into Summit County."I figured if I liked it so much in the pouring rain, it'd be a great place on a nice day."He
returned to New England to gather his
things and tell his
was going to spend a year in Colorado - an adventure that turned into more than three decades of his
had 100 days of skiing under his
belt when he
arrived, and in one season added another 200 to that.He
and ski racer C.J. Mueller were roommates and every year quit their jobs on Nov. 15 and skied through the season to the Fourth of July.Hardy, who skied on the pro circuit from 1976 to 1978, funded his habit by working at the Colorado House - now Fatty's Pizzeria - as a breakfast cook.He also worked in construction and as a ski shop manager.These days, he works as a general contractor as the owner of Breko Enterprises.
It was summer in Connecticut when Hardy's love affair with flying blossomed.
"I always had a fascination with airplanes," he
said."I always wanted to fly.I'd considered aviation school, but at 20, what do you know?"
Every day he
passed a sign near the airport: Learn to Fly: $25.The first lesson was a 20-minute flight during which the instructor allowed Hardy
to taxi, fly and land the plane.
"I said, "This is it.This is it for me,'" Hardy
recalled.""I have to sign up for the class.'"He
returned to Breckenridge and began building a plane of his
"I wanted the fastest, most fun airplane for the dollar," Hardy
"It's a nice sit-down job, and I can still go really fast," Hardy
ultimate goal is to race in the desert outside Reno, Nev., in an annual event in which pilots zip around a 3-mile oval at speeds in excess of 200 mph.Qualifying, Hardy
said, is nerve-wracking enough.
"You go up with an instructor, show him you can handle the plane, go through some acrobatics," he
said, "all while other planes are around you.
"That's just as dangerous," Hardy
flies currents in the water; I fly currents in the air."
Hardy's attitude is that if he's
meant to die flying, he'll die flying; it could just as easily occur while crossing a street.
"You can't be scared," he
said."If you're totally scared, you'll never do anything, so why even think about it?If you don't jump in with both feet, you'll never really enjoy anything.Calculate your odds, and you can do just about anything in the world."Hardy
acknowledges it's a dangerous sport.
"Things happen so fast," he