Phoenix: Larry Nance homecoming

Catch 22 Racing Larry Nance: Driver And Team Owner Marine Corps Pro Stock Oldsmobile Cutlass NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Phoenix Homecoming for Larry Nance Phoenix, Ariz. - - It will be a homecoming for Larry Nance, driver of the Marine...

Catch 22 Racing
Larry Nance: Driver And Team Owner
Marine Corps Pro Stock Oldsmobile Cutlass
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series

Phoenix Homecoming for Larry Nance

Phoenix, Ariz. - - It will be a homecoming for Larry Nance, driver of the Marine Corps Pro Stock Cutlass, when he returns to Phoenix this weekend for the second of 23 national events on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series -- the Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz.

After a collegiate basketball career at Clemson, Nance's love affair with Phoenix began in 1981 when he was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) by the Phoenix Suns.

"We're excited about going back to Phoenix," said Nance, who was born and grew up in Anderson, S.C., but now resides in Akron, Ohio. "I was there a long time playing basketball and it's also where I met my wife Jaynee. I know I'll see a lot of friends, so I want to perform well while I'm there. And Firebird Raceway was where I qualified for my first professional NHRA race. So Phoenix holds many memories of the three loves of my life: family, basketball and racing."

During his playing days in Phoenix, Nance discovered the sport of drag racing.

"Phoenix was where I first went to a drag strip. It was Firebird Raceway. I fell in love with a Camaro there. The name of the Camaro was 'Blue Thunder.' I ended up buying it. Since then, which was 1986, I've been racing, racing, racing.

"I raced that Camaro in Super Gas. Actually, my friend Kirk Gisi drove the car in competition, but I would sort of sneak a little seat time and I would take it down the track every now and then. I wasn't supposed to race while I was playing ball.

"After I retired from the court in 1996 and turned to professional racing, I qualified for my first NHRA race at Firebird at the national event in 1997," added Nance, who won the first NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984.

He also raced briefly on the IHRA circuit, winning the first professional IHRA event he entered. That was in 1996 in the Pro Stock mountain motor class at the quarter mile strip in Darlington, S.C.

Nance played for the Suns from the 1981- '82 season until the 1987-'88 season. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers about half way through the '87-'88 season. He retired from the Cavs after the 1995-'96 season.

Nance's team name -- Catch 22 Racing -- comes from his basketball jersey, number 22, that he wore throughout college and the pros. His No. 22 jersey was retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 22nd game of the 1996-97 season (ironically, or by design, against the Phoenix Suns) and now hangs from the rafters at Gund Arena in Cleveland with the retired numbers of other Cavaliers players.

The three-time NBA all-star ('85, '89 and '93) insists that racing his Marine Corps Pro Stock Olds and playing NBA basketball have a lot of similarities.

"When I was playing, I got butterflies on the court and now the same thing happens to me in the race car," says Nance. "But, that's part of the fun. The competition and intimidation factors are the same in either sport. Whether you play basketball or race cars, even though you are part of a team, you have to play your own game."

When Nance decided to go NHRA Pro Stock Racing in 1996, he picked arguably the toughest category in NHRA drag racing. He says he wouldn't have it any other way.

"The reason I picked Pro Stock racing is that I feel it is the toughest professional class on the NHRA circuit. That's where I wanted to be. I didn't want to play in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association), although I probably could have been the best in that league. I wanted to play in the NBA, where the competition is. That's what drives me, competing with the very best competition," reflected Nance.

Nance has made great contributions in both basketball and now in racing; but, his greatest contribution has to be his influence upon children and youth. He states that he wants to be, not only a competitive Pro Stock driver, but a good role model for others.

In 1991, Nance received the FBI Director's Leadership Award recognizing him for his commitment to furthering drug prevention education.

This season Nance's Pro Stock Oldsmobile Cutlass is proudly sporting the U.S. Marine Corps name and logo. As part of the marketing partnership with the U. S. Marine Corps, Nance will once again combine his basketball talent with the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series as a recruiting aid for the Marines.

Capt. Derek Campbell, Deputy of Advertising and Marketing Strategy-Marine Corps Recruiting Command, explains," We intend to use Larry (Nance) to help the Marine Corps impact the community through a couple of mediums. One of those in particular is basketball clinics. For instance, at the first event in Pomona, Calif., we had Larry go out to Pomona High School, a day prior to qualifying, to do a basketball clinic and talk about leadership and his association with the Marine Corps.

"The scope of our program is really unique. We feel, based on the target market for the people that we are trying to recruit -- the 17 to 24-year-old for enlisted personnel and the 17 to 28-year-old for the officers program -- that motorsports gives us the opportunity to harvest those folks we are trying to recruit and generate a propensity in them to look at the Marine Corps as an option for success in their lives.

"Our intent with the NHRA program is to influence the community and show that the Marine Corps participates in diverse things and we can be pervasive in any type of market. We look to grow and enhance this relationship with Larry Nance and the NHRA and we want this relationship with the team and sanctioning body to help impact our recruiting efforts as we get kneecap to kneecap with those interested in being Marines. This will enable us to show the Marine Corps brand throughout society.

"The Marine Corps and the individual Marine should be viewed as the epitome of military virtue. A group of smart, tough, elite warriors who gain strength of mind, body and character through membership in an elite and proud Corps."

Nance will attempt to qualify the Marine Corps Pro Stock Oldsmobile Cutlass this weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz. Professional qualifying for the Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Nationals begins with two sessions on Friday and concludes with two additional sessions on Saturday. The top 16 qualifiers in each professional class advance to final eliminations which begin at 11 a.m. (MT) on Sunday.




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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Nance