Seattle: Larry Nance preview

Nance hopes to qualify for fourth straight at Seattle. KENT, Wash. - - After a slow start to the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, former NBA player turned drag racer, Larry Nance, driver and owner of the Team Marines Chevy Cavalier, has...

Nance hopes to qualify for fourth straight at Seattle.

KENT, Wash. - - After a slow start to the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, former NBA player turned drag racer, Larry Nance, driver and owner of the Team Marines Chevy Cavalier, has his racing fortunes headed in a positive direction.

Heading into this weekend's 15th annual Lucas Oil Products Northwest Nationals at the newly renamed Pacific Raceways located in Kent, Wash., Nance has qualified for the last three consecutive NHRA national events in Pro Stock cars.

After qualifying in Columbus, at the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, the Akron, Ohio driver backed that up by qualifying at the NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis, and this past weekend at the NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver. He also qualified at the NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., bringing his season total to four.

Nance attributes his recently found success to a combination of new car and awesome power.

"We took delivery of a new Jerry Bickel-built chassis in May," said Nance, "but it took us several races to get the combination figured out. We knew that our engine builder Richard Maskin produced awesome horsepower but it took (crew chief) Taylor Lastor several races to get the engine and chassis in sync. Now Taylor is able to tweak that combination and things seem to be going right for this Team Marines Cavalier. We are hopeful that we continue to make the right chassis and engine calls and that we are part of the field next Sunday in Seattle."

Nance is one of those fortunate individual that has been able to parlay a love of both basketball and drag racing into a life-long career.

After a collegiate basketball career at Clemson, Nance was the #1 draft pick of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Phoenix Suns. 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.

Highlights of Nance's NBA career include being named to the NBA all-stars three times (1985, 1989, and 1993), winning the first slam-dunk contest (1984) and holding the record for the most shots blocked by a forward (2,027). He scored 15,687 career points , averaged 17.1 points per game, and pulled down 7, 352 rebounds.

During his playing days in Phoenix, Nance discovered the sport of drag racing. "After I retired from the court in 1996 and turned to professional racing, I qualified for my first NHRA race at Phoenix at the national event in 1997," remembers Nance.

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 and now hangs from the rafters at Gund Arena in Cleveland.

The three-time NBA all-star insists that racing his Marine Corps Pro Stock Cavalier 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.

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

Capt. Derek Campbell of the U.S. Marine Corps explains," We 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, in both Seattle and Sonoma, Larry will be visiting local venues to do a basketball clinic and talk about leadership and his association with the Marine Corps. This will enable us to show the Marine Corps brand throughout society.

"The scope of our program is really unique. We feel, based on the target market for the people that we are trying to recruit, that motorsports gives us the opportunity to get kneecap to kneecap with those interested in being Marines and generate a propensity in them to look at the Marine Corps as an option for success in their lives.

"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."

-c22r-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Nance