15 Two notable NBA players have enjoyed long drag racing careers. Larry Nance, who won the NBA’s first Slam Dunk contest in 1984, captured his first IHRA victory at Darlington in 1996. A three-time NBA all- star and a 13-year veteran of the league with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers, his drag racing career has lasted much longer than his professional basketball career. Nance, whose cars were nicknamed “Catch 22” as a reference to his jersey number, remains still involved in drag racing two decades after his first win. Tom Hammonds, a rival of Nance’s on the court, later became a foe in the Pro Stock ranks. Hammonds started racing when he was in high school, continued in college at Georgia Tech and occasionally drove match races in his 1969 Camaro over his 12-year career with the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. Now, the 6-foot-9 Hammonds is in a third phase of an athletic career, in the octagon as a martial arts competitor. The most successful football player to turn drag racer was Dan Pastorini, best known for his NFL career with the Houston Oilers. He led the Oilers to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 1978-79, when they lost both times to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Pastorini, who also played for the Raiders, Rams and Eagles, had raced since he was a kid. He started out driving quarter-midgets and switched to drag racing during his high school days when he took a Chevy Chevelle with a 396 motor to Freemont Dragway in California. He took up boat racing during his NFL career, but it was marred by a 1977 accident which two spectators were killed. He returned to drag racing came once his football career was over as the driver of the “Quarterback Sneak” Top Fuel dragster. Pastorini set a Top Fuel track record at Houston in 1985, won his first NHRA national-event at Atlanta in 1986 and reached the finals of the IHRA Spring Nationals at Bristol a year later. Crossover stars have added to drag racing’s appeal with their own experiences of going down the quarter-mile.