He was known as The Loner, which somebody said was because he liked to do things on his own – The man; Tony Nancy.
I bring up Tony Nancy for a few different reasons. I was reminded, he was the Top Fuel winner of the March Meet 40 years ago. The March Meet just concluded with another historic figure involved, Adam Sorokin, who just won the meet and was the son of Mike Sorokin (1967 March Meet winner) who drove the famous Surfers car during the same time Tony was involved in racing. Tony Nancy passed away about 4 and a half years ago and it seemed a good time to say a brief word about him.
My dad Ron and Tony were friends from early years of drag racing (both were early flathead guys). But interestingly enough, I knew and became friends with Tony not because of drag racing but he was on my route back in the day when I sold auto parts for our Plug Buggy business. He owned a building in North Hollywood and part of it, he used for doing custom work on interiors especially rods – which he did better than anyone I know. His quality and detail in upholstery was second to none and I always looked forward to stopping by so I could view his latest work.
He did keep to himself and from what others around him said, he seldom talked to anyone else but I guess he made an exception because we talked everytime I came by even though I was there to sell all the other shops. Tony always came out and rummaged around my truck and after awhile, I swear he bought stuff just because of all the goody’s I had onboard.
Anyway, Tony would tell me stories (bench-racing of sorts), show me how to tell bad leather from good leather from really good leather (he did concours work) and also go through his pictures – Oh, how I loved going through those pictures. The people he did work for were the elite folks of the day, from movie stars to big time singers and a whole host of the rich and famous. And ha, lucky for me, although I knew the parts business as well as anyone, heck I was green when it came to sales, but I’d make up to half my sales for the day only at that particular stop. BTW, I could go into depth about the eclectic group of businesses there but maybe some other time.
Tony Nancy was a intelligent quality person who also was in great condition physically. He’s missed and I will forever kick myself for not being at the Hot Rod Reunion when he had his restored Top Fueler (from that 1970 March Meet). His heritage will forever be in the history of drag racing and the cars he worked on. As far as I’m concerned, The Loner, who did things on his own, will be a friend I’ll always remember.