As told to Michael Hall.

In his 19 years playing basketball for the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan quietly became one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Along the way he also quietly became a car guy, and today he owns a couple of speed shops in San Antonio. We sat down with him and one of his partners to talk cars, sports, and the need for speed.

Jason Pena: San Antonio is a car city; it’s had that car culture for a long time. Under the lights! Alamo Dragway! [Pena is referring to the seventies-era drag strip, which was razed in 2009.]

Tim Duncan: I don’t know about that. [Laughs.] That’s before my time.

JP: I don’t think the car culture has changed much. The need for speed has always been here. Hot rods, loud music, and tire smoke—it’s still the same.

TD: The ultimate goal is speed. And looking good doing it.

JP: Looking good doing it: that’s important.

TD: I started late in life being a car guy. I started with the customization part of it, got into old cars, then just being around a bunch with these old guys, doing my research, learning what I can. I love cars. You can display them, drive them, customize them, change them. Do something, see something, put your own spin on it. It’s all those things.

JP: For most people, it’s an extension of their personality. You might want green wheels, I might want red wheels. Everyone is their own artist when it comes to their car or truck.

TD: Everybody wants to be able to look good. You might not want to go fast, might just want to look good, might want to go park somewhere and have people admire your car. Or sneak up on people: they’re thinking, “There’s nothing in that car,” and you blow them away.

JP: I like that, the whole sleeper mentality.

TD: Car culture and sports culture aren’t that different. It’s just a different subject, is all it is. It’s the same as when you talk about what you do on the basketball court or in the dugout or wherever. That’s what you’re involved with, what you have in common. Car culture is the same thing.


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