Famed drag racer Tony Nancy passes away
By Phil Burgess, NHRA.com
Famed drag racer Tony Nancy, whose beautiful cars and famed upholstery work on machines for street and strip made him a revered name in the motorsports world, passed away Nov. 11 after a long illness.
Nancy, whose only national event title came in Competition Eliminator at the 1963 Winternationals, was known for a sanitary collection of machines, from his famed 22Jr. roadster through a string of colorful Top Fuel dragsters.
Nancy, a graduate of Hollywood High, began his quarter-mile racing career after first pursuing speed on the El Mirage Dry Lakes during his formative years. He was a member of the famed Throttle Merchants of the San Fernando Valley along with George Bolthoff and the Hampshire brothers.
Nancy's Pomona-winning entry was a blown and injected Plymouth-powered AA/C '23-T Modified roadster, but he also won Best Engineered at the same event with his first dragster, a Top Gas wedge-powered car with which he held the Drag News No. 1 spot for nearly a year. Throughout his career, Nancy would travel far and wide to help promote the sport. He raced in Australia, Japan and Germany, and was the captain of the U.S. team that toured Europe in 1964.
Nancy, whose nickname was "The Loner" based on his ability to practically field a car by himself, entered the Top Fuel ranks in 1970 and was runner-up to Larry Dixon at that year's Winternationals. Two months later, he defeated a strong 32-car field to win the prestigious Bakersfield U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships. Nancy, who fielded cars sponsored my Revell and Wynn's, among others, also was runner-up in Bakersfield in 1974 and 1976.
According to Nancy, he set at least one record or Drag News 1320 mark in every class in which he competed, which encompassed cars such as a V/Fuel Dragster in 1957 through Top Fuel, where he held the national speed record at 236.22 in 1971.
Nancy retired from the cockpit after the 1976 March Meet to concentrate on Tony Nancy Enterprises, his famed Sherman Oaks, Calif., upholstery business that beautified the interiors of everything from Ferraris to Top Fuel dragsters and the cars of many Hollywood stars, including Clark Gable, James Garner, Steve McQueen, and Burt Reynolds. Nancy, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 California Hot Rod Reunion, also was an accomplished stunt driver for motion pictures.
Photo by Mark Hovsepian
2004 News Archive
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