Car show honors first black national drag-racing champion
By Bob Jackson
For Lorenzo “Killer” Brooks and Larry Nance Sr., theirs was a friendship forged behind the wheel of fast cars, pedal-to-the-metal, speeding toward the finish line.
“I don’t really know who came out on top the most times,” Nance said, nodding toward Brooks. “But today is your day, so I’m gonna say you did.”
Nance, a former NBA player and Cleveland Cavaliers star, was among those on hand Saturday morning to honor Brooks at the first Valley Summerfest and Drag Race Car Show. The event was in the Sharon Line neighborhood on the city’s East Side, where Brooks grew up and still lives.
Deborah Benton of Anansi Street Entertainment, which sponsored the show, said it will become an annual event. Brooks was selected as the first honoree because he is the first black national drag-racing champion, she said.
Brooks said he won the title in 1991 while racing in Canada.
Before a parade, which proceeded along Jacobs Road to Bailey Park on Knapp Avenue, city officials unveiled a street sign honoring Brooks’ achievements. Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said it will most likely be placed somewhere along Jacobs Road, but the actual location will be up to Brooks.
“This is an extreme honor for us,” Brown said, noting that during his youth, Brooks was “known by his reputation for having nice-looking, fast cars. If you saw a [race} car, you knew it was Killer Brooks.”
Nance, an Akron native who is long retired from the NBA, said he met Brooks in the early 1990s, when both were in the early stages of their racing careers.
“This brings back a lot of memories, right here on Jacobs Road,” Nance said. “Me and [Brooks] have been racing a long time together.”
Nance owned a racing team during his NBA years, and said he would have hired Brooks as his driver, but the two met too late, and Nance had already found someone to drive his car.
“We just clicked, right from the very start,” Brooks said of his friendship with Nance. “We’ve been good friends ever since then.”
Nance said he still owns a racing team, but hasn’t driven in years. Brooks, though, said he is still actively racing.
DeMaine Kitchen, president of Youngstown City Council, said he grew up with Brooks in the Sharon Line area.
“It’s not every day that you get to celebrate a champion and a hero right here where you live,” he said.
Brooks said he’s grateful for the honor and looks forward to seeing the sign that mentions him and his car, “Predator.”
“I’ll probably ask for it to be posted at the bottom of the hill on Jacobs Road so people will know that I live there,” he said.
Benton said proceeds from Saturday’s event will benefit the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.