Wow, the LA Times delivered! And that twist in episode 5....?!?!? Must listen.
Fascinating LA story that’s well told!
Good Story, judgy reporting
Amazing story about Big Willie, his influence on LA gangs and his deceptions. But I would agree with another reviewer that the reporter came off judgmental. It felt like a nerdy white guy constantly belittling this black guy coming up in the 60s. There was a lack of respect. Possibly the wrong reporter to tell this story
Super fun and interesting
I loved this podcast which is like one part The Fast and the Furious and one part civil rights history. Tells a great story about LA street racing culture centered on Big Willie, a completely larger than life character. Totally worth your time.
I’m only a few episodes into this podcast, and I’m already hooked! A must-listen for Angelinos or car buffs, this podcast is more than just the story of Big Willie. It delves into issues of race and humanity.
I’ve been a car guy for my whole life and never heard of this supremely interesting (and significant) player in automotive and civic culture. Really really enjoyed it! Can’t wait for more from this author !!!!!
One of the rare podcasts that breathes life into a forgotten time and place. Telling Big Willie’s story was overdue, and Daniel Miller’s work has done it justice. The people you hear are the ones who were there. Big Willie‘s message of peace through speed is shared again; may we all benefit from it.
Fascinating Story about a fascinating man
Really enjoyed this story. This is a man who deserves to be known for all of the good he did.
Fuel Injected and Powerful
I loved this podcast. ‘Larger than Life’ is a gripping story of a man and his troubled city. It is an American tale of a dreamer and striver who reinvented himself in more ways than one to heal a Los Angeles torn by racism and gang violence. You’ll never think of street racing the same again. Daniel Miller looks deep into a city and brings us a man in full. A stunning portrait.
Fantastic story told of an LA legend
I first read the article that was published in the LA Times and then found out there was a podcast as well. While I enjoyed the article in the Times, the podcast provides many more details into the life of Big Willie. Listening to the stories about Big Willie, they almost seem unbelievable. In a world so divided, we could use more Big Willies!
I’m so disappointed. And the guy’s voice. Ugh.
A Sycophant’s Love Letter to a Bad Guy
This podcast presents an uncritical view of someone who clearly merits a more honest biography. Big Willie was a street criminal who trafficked in illegal guns and bootleg videos. He was also guilty of the shameful offense of “stolen valor”, masquerading as a Special Forces Vietnam vet when in actuality he never even completed basic training. Willie’s deception of prancing around in a camo outfit and military beret was compounded by his crocodile tears over the buddies he claimed to have left behind.
Why he felt this bold lie was even necessary is never addressed by the podcast. Willie’s near sociopathic ability to play pretend soldier was at the expense of shaming his family, all of whom had to obfuscate when asked about Willie’s time in the military which only amounted to a few weeks.
The narrator of the podcast touches on the dark side of Willie as lightly and briefly as possible in his quest to turn Big Willie into a hero. Focusing repeatedly on his publicly funded, failed dragstrip venture, the narrator provides only anecdotal evidence about the value of organized street racing.
I remember Big Willie from his days in the sun, and was truly disappointed in how poorly this podcast told his story.
Everything I love about car culture in LA
Just finished the podcast and I already want more. It’s the most thorough retelling of one of LA’s long-forgotten pioneers of street-racing culture. The storytelling, sound design, and production are all quintessentially LA. I enjoyed every minute.
Highly recommended if you love high-performance cars, racing, or you’re just a gearhead who’s into LA/West Coast car culture. I need a second season of this one!
Interesting, inspirational, and entertaining
I binge listened to this one weekend. I love cars and all that goes with them. Very cool to hear the history of LA street racing and the man that kept the peace. There are several really good insights into Willie and some personal flaws revealed but you can’t deny this mans influence and passion toward peace and racing. Great job with the story!
Daniel Miller’s story telling is captivating and insightful. Loved hearing the different layers of Big Willie’s life’s
Love this podcast!
Daniel Miller does a phenomenal job of telling Big Willie’s story from start to finish. He’s clearly invested in reporting the truth, whatever that may be, and does so in the podcast. Worth a listen.
My new favorite podcast
So glad I discovered this story about a fascinating man, Big Willie.
One of the best podcasts of all-time
My wife and I listened to this on our recent road trip and couldn’t shut it off. A truly fascinating story, and the narrator is phenomenal. Couldn't recommend it more - a profound delight all around!
Not a bad story, but not that great either. Way too much celebrity and politician worship. Perfect for people who love those things.
Larger than life
I was thoroughly engaged in this podcast I couldn’t put it down. The detail and Los Angeles history was mind blowing and educational. I would highly recommend to all parties.
A Great Puzzle Piece Of Street Racing History
This is a well done telling of a story I never knew, but always wanted to know about. It was a very honest look at what really happened...from real people who knew Big Willie. How he made a difference in race relations and the car community. Definitely some twists and turns over the rise and unfortunate fall of Big Willie and Terminal Island and how everything has influenced car culture that we know even today. A++ -Tony Huntimer
Very informative and with lots of twists and turns. Like another reviewer, there are some auditory hiccups that I initially put on my new phone or Bluetooth connection but maybe not?
I have always been fascinated with the story of Big Willie ever since meeting a guy that was part of the brotherhood in my small hometown in SoCal. Podcast told the story so well. Mr. Miller was a great narrator. Well Done
Made a Difference
This has been one of my favorite podcasts ever. Excellent reporting and story-telling. I feel like I know Big Willy. I knew someone like him in the late 60s - early 70s. Though flawed, Big Willy made a positive difference with his life. But that we all be able to say that at the end! Thank you for sharing his very inspirational story.
The trailer let me know this would be great, and it lived up to the hype. I could've never expected the twist in episode 5. Wow. I won’t spoil it, but the show handles a surprising revelation about Willie with sensitivity and grace. Must listen!
LAc Licensed Acupuncturist
KK - Kitty Kat
You gotta love Big Willie! Love the story and the contribution that it is to have
Willie come alive again. Thanks for the entertainment and humanity.
Great story, fascinating to hear about LA’s untold histories.
Well paced, moving story
Not to overdo it, but Johnson had his Boswell and now Willie has his Miller. Best part of this podcast is that Miller had to insert himself into the narrative but it was never overdone. It was not a matter of turning the reporter into the hero but the steps Miller took in his reporting that uncovered new facts that had to be shared with the participants. Amazing job.
Larger Than Life
This unique story is multi layered it was compelling and heartbreaking. Yet a peek into part of the Los Angeles mosaic that makes a good story and holds your attention to the last sentence.
Great story on a great man that brought everyone together for peace and competition on the streets/race track! SoCal the mecca of Hot rods!
As a proud transplant Angeleno, it has been really fun to learn about a part of Los Angeles history that I had no knowledge of before. Miller does a great job story telling and it was fun to ride along with him on his investigative journey. Love the intro song.
I listen to a lot of podcasts and this one hits all the notes I need. It’s researched and well edited, actual investigative reporting (not speculation), and has an actually story arc. And it’s all true! It’s so cool to learn about this obscure part of LA history that touched so many lives.
An L.A. Story
Amazing reporting work in this podcast that uncovers the super engaging tale of a local L.A. figure that shockingly has been so far untold. Love the tone of the podcast and the episodes are really well produced and engaging. Highly recommend, especially if you love L.A. and its history!
Daniel Miller, has a wonderful gift of telling a story and holding your attention. I lived in Los Angeles all my life and he so accurate. I can’t wait till tomorrow for the next Episode.
Great podcast, a must-listen for Angelenos
Captivating journalism and story-telling by Miller and his team. As a native Angeleno, I’d never heard of Big Willie but instantly felt connected to his character and his message via “Larger Than Life”. I’ve found myself both laughing and tearing up at multiple junctures in the series, it’s truly entertaining and informative. Bravo.
Car culture aside, incredible show!
I love cars and learning about this hidden bit of car culture that actually has influence that greatly exceeds what it was at the time, was a privilege! Thank you so much for this well-reported and well-produced serial. When is the 99% Invisible collaboration gonna happen 😉?
Your undercurrent of “judgey” makes me unable to continue to listen to the story. Skepticism and doubt- totally slanted reporting. You seem to talk about his great deeds, discount him doing it alone, tell how someone helped him, question the validity, and make judgements. Wishing that our community had a Willie right now. We need him.
Great podcast. Horrible editing.
ron mf weeslet
I can’t stand how quiet the show gets between dialogue. It makes me think my phone died or I accidentally paused it. Also I don’t think the host has the emotional capacity to fully depict such a story. I think he should have tried his hand as a car salesman. Phenomenal story and journalism, which is the sole reason I gave 4 stars.
An LA Tale
Excellently produced tale of a fascinating character: the late streer racer and LA community activist Big Willie Robinson. Great narration and great interviews with both people who knew him and relatives of the Hollywood stars he hung out with like Paul Newman. An interesting untold piece of local history!
Excellent podcast story
Great story told wonderfully by Daniel Miller.
Deeds, Not Words
Sky Clad Guru
Big Willie's story unfolds from two perspectives; that of the "larger than life" character, and the truth of the real man. While some time is devoted to questioning whether the persona he portrayed was based on a lie, the reality is that Willie was a man of deeds far more than words. As my grandmother used to say, "A man of words and not deeds is like a garden full of weeds." There are far too many people who use a false narrative about themselves to achieve selfish ends; today more than ever. Willie did it to achieve true brotherhood at a place and time when nothing else was working. There are no weeds in Big WIllie Robinson's garden, only the fruits of an unselfish man for all to share.
Great story. I attended the street racer meetings when they met in the parking lot of The Crenshaw Shopping Center. Big Willie was definitely larger than life. I always wondered what happened to him. Automobiles were always the common denominator with me and my buddies. I even met Otis Chandler at a Concours Santa Barbara. Didn’t realize who he was until a friend told me. We were talking about his Gray Market Ferrari. We joked and laughed like old friends. Amazing.
Stoked valor is a full stop. Disgusting to build a life from that.
Daniel is an exceptional reporter who provided scintillating information about my home town. Big fan !
The most significant story of Drag Racing History!
A magnificent life of a true American hero that brought good people from all walks of life to a 1/4 mile of drag strip to come together and be the best people we can be with the all common bond of the love of vehicles!
Run What Ya Brung
Great listen. A unique slice of L.A. history I knew nothing about despite being here for over 25 years.
Gripping story, brilliant storytelling
Miller has a gift for narration and storytelling, and Big Willie is a fascinating subject. My favorite podcast of 2019.
Great LA History!
I appreciate the look at LA’s history from these unique angles. It is clear that Daniel Miller and The LA Times have done the leg work to bring this story to life. I was sucked in a few minutes into episode one!
This is awesome 🏁