Volume X, Issue 2, Page 58

  There’s an airport photo in an old hot rodding magazine of you and Danny Ongais. I know you guys must have a little background.

LEONG: Well, when I brought the Masters car over here (mainland U.S.)  to run, Ongais came with us as part of an all-Hawaiian crew. I think that was in 1961.

You mentioned when we talked before that you had a long relationship with Mopar. When did it start and how did it evolve?

LEONG: Well, actually it evolved through Keith Black Racing Engines. As you know, I’ve been with Keith Black Racing Engines since 1964. He had the “Miss Chrysler” race boats, all sponsored by Chrysler  and that’s how we got involved. They (Chrysler) actually paid for my first 426 Hemi. They told me that if I supplied the car and I could run it they’d supply me with the engine and I could  keep whatever money we  made.

  Was that the Hot Rod Dragster?

LEONG: No, the Hot Rod Dragster was my 392 car. It was a brand new Don Long (chassis). That car was the car Soroken drove. They called it the Hawaiian Two. It was kind of an orange car. Then after that, I decided not to run two cars. So we kept the 426 car that lasted through '68 and into '69, then I built my first funny car. I always had a great accord with the Chrysler people, and have ever since then.

How long have you owned and tuned fuel cars for a living?

LEONG:  Since 1965; never had another job. I have two daughters and four grandkids. One daughter’s a paralegal, I got one daughter through U of California and she’s in accounting. Got her MBA. So I feel as a parent that I’ve fulfilled my obligations.

Lets compare racing in the early days to later years. Did you make more money in the ‘60s and ‘70s than you did in the ‘80s and ‘90s?

LEONG: I don’t really think so. The Sixties and Seventies were a lot harder because we were doing it almost exclusively through match racing, running all over the country. In the Eighties and Nineties, we had sponsors. Not as big of sponsors, but big enough to make more without having to run all over the country as much.

Tell us a Don Prudhomme story that no one knows.

LEONG: Well, talking about how competitive he was. This is in 1965. Prudhomme was driving for me and we had these match races. Well, the big thing is if you won, you moved on to the next match, which is money.  At this match race our first run was against (Tom) McEwen. We ran quicker and beat him. The second run he was more ready, but we ran quicker and beat him again. The last time we set the track record and still lost. Well, I heard later that McEwen went up to the starter and said, “Look, you’re kind of holding us up.” And that was when we had a flag in a bucket. I mean you still had to watch the light, but the light was up there, and as soon as the flag went he would go.

Well, McEwen knew that the starter was going to be quick, so when he staged he took a chance. He didn’t run a track record, but he won. Now Prudhomme was so mad. Anyway, he goes over to McEwen and his crew and chews them all out, tells them whata piece of sh*t their car was and all this stuff. In the meantime, all of a sudden I couldn’t talk to anyone because Prudhomme was pissed off at them. Anyway, that went all the way from February to after the Hot Rod Magazine race, which I think was in June. But that’s just to show you how competitive Prudhomme was.

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