Gainesville: Larry Nance Gatornationals preview

Nance optimistic about Gainesville Catch 22 Racing embodies U. S. Marine Corps spirit Gainesville, Fla. - - After two races in the west, the mobile carnival of the senses known as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series moves east this weekend to...

Nance optimistic about Gainesville
Catch 22 Racing embodies U. S. Marine Corps spirit

Gainesville, Fla. - - After two races in the west, the mobile carnival of the senses known as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series moves east this weekend to Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway for the NHRA Mac Tools Gatornationals.

Larry Nance, who was born and spent his formative years in Anderson, S.C., but now calls Akron, Ohio, home, is optimistic the change will be the start of good things for Catch 22 Racing and his Marine Corps Pro Stock Cutlass.

"This team has been on a learning curve since the first race in Pomona (Calif.)," said Nance. "But for this upcoming race in Gainesville (Fla.), I am the most optimistic I've been since I started drag racing. We've had two races this year to learn about what this Marine Corps Olds wants. We've had two races to learn about applying the power that engine builder Richard Maskin supplies us. And we've had two races to work together as a team.

"Entering Gainesville, we have a good set up on the car. Richard (Maskin) refreshed the engine between Phoenix and here and found a little more power. More power can't do anything but help. I think with the whole combination coming together, Gainesville should be where we really step out and show what we can do."

After a 13 year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers, the 43-year-old Nance traded the basketball hardwood court for the asphalt quarter mile drag strip. Owning a Super Gas Camaro, driven by Kirk Gisi, and a Pro Mod, driven by Pat Moore, during his playing days, the all-time leading NBA shot-blocking power forward, with 2,027 blocked shots, began his professional drag racing driving career in 1996.

"After I retired from the court in 1996 and turned to professional drag racing, I won the first professional IHRA event I entered. That was in 1996 in the Pro Stock mountain motor class at the track in Darlington, S.C.," reflected Nance, who also won the first ever NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984.

"On the NHRA side, I qualified for my first NHRA Pro Stock national event at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix in 1997."

Since that time, his success on the NHRA Championship Drag Racing Series has not equaled his success during his collegiate days at Clemson, nor his time in the NBA.

"There's no doubt that I've been pretty successful in basketball. Ever since I've been involved with drag racing, I've struggled off and on; but I feel this might just be that breakthrough year," said the three-time NBA all-star.

This season may well be the best opportunity for Nance to make his presence known in Pro Stock, a professional class that is called, by many, "the most competitive class in all drag racing."

"Drag racing is tough no matter what class you're in, but I chose Pro Stock because I feel it the toughest. I won't shy away from competition. Again though, going back to this year, I feel my chances are better this season than they've ever been in my racing career. I make that statement mainly because of working with Richard Maskin. In Pro Stock racing, power is the name of the game and Maskin produces power.

"This year Larry Nance and Catch 22 Racing are going to be tough -- just like the Marines that back me," emphasized Nance.

Nance and the U.S. Marine Corps have entered into a unique marketing partnership. As part of this marketing partnership with the Marine Corps, Nance will once again combine his basketball talent with the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series as a recruiting aid for the Marines.

To help the Marine Corps impact the community in the vicinity of the racing venues, Nance is conducting basketball clinics at area schools and colleges. During the clinic, Nance presents an anti-drug message and talks about leadership and his association with the Marine Corps. He ends the clinic by playing several one-on-one basketball games with volunteers from the students assembled.

Nance believes his race team, Catch 22 Racing, embodies the same virtues and spirit as the U.S. Marine Corps.

"A U.S. Marine is a well-trained, skilled professional. As a U.S. Marine, commitment is the rule, not the exception. A U. S. Marine develops the drive and courage to conquer all challenges. That's the same type of crew member that makes up Catch 22 Racing. Together the Marine Corps and Catch 22 Racing strive to be the epitome of discipline and teamwork," said Nance.

For all the latest news on Marines Racing and Catch 22 Racing, log on to www.marinesracing.com. While there, check out the Marines Racing Store for the latest in Marines Racing apparel.

Professional qualifying for the Mac Tools Gatornationals gets underway on Friday, March 15, with two sessions and finishes with two additional sessions on Saturday, March 16. Final eliminations start promptly at the top of the 11 o'clock hour (ET) on Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

-c22r-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Nance