Tom Hammonds readily admits something many drag racers already know. It’s tough to stay away from drag racing when you are an adrenalin connoisseur.
And Hammonds has run the gamut of sports starting with a 687-game career in the NBA, and most recently a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion. In between, Hammonds pulled off a substantial presence in drag racing as a Pro Stock driver.
But when it was all said and done, it was his first love of high-horsepower automobiles which led him back to his favorite sandlot — the drag strip.
“I can’t get away,” Hammonds admitted. “It’s just like The Godfather; they keep pulling me back. So I’m looking forward to coming back. I mean, I missed drag racing for since I’ve been away. My last thing was in Pro Stock, and I want to get back involved, and not to that extent. Pro Stock is a full-time job, but I want to get back to my roots and what I enjoy more. And that’s more so the streetcar side of it. So I’m looking forward to running in NMCA and this year.”
Hammonds is in the process of building a team to compete in the NMCA’s Extreme Street division, as well as the Ultra Street division in Duck X Production events. He’s got a ’69 Camaro under construction at Jerry Bickel Race Cars with a Procharger combination being developed by Steve Morris.
Hammond reenters drag racing following a successful stint in martial arts competition.
“I’ve always been a competitive person,” Hammond explained. “So even when my drag racing days were over, I had to do something to stay competitive. So I got involved in martial arts, in particular, Brazilian jujitsu and worked, and worked, and worked.
“And being a former professional athlete, you know anything we do we’re going to give 110%. And I had the opportunity to compete in the world championships and won the world championships five years in a row. But my body’s kind of getting old and broken up now. So my next love is drag racing. So I’m looking forward to getting back in the car.”
At 6-foot 9-inches tall, Hammonds stands as one of the tallest drag racers, a close comparison to another NBA star turned drag racer – Larry Nance. And while he misses the different communities, he’s been a part of, drag racing’s family presents a bond he’s missed.
“Just the whole racing community, when you’re involved in it like we are for so many years, you can pick up the phone and call and talk to each other,” Hammond said. “And that’s what makes a big deal for me. That’s something I missed. I mean, that’s the camaraderie that I missed, that I missed when I played basketball, that I do get when I drag race.”