Volume X, Issue 2, Page 60

  Could you compare the current president of NHRA, Tom Compton, to Wally Parks?

LEONG:  No I can’t. Like I said, I haven’t been real close to that side for a little while, right? To tell you the truth, I haven’t really paid much attention to the business side. I’ve paid more attention to the technical and racing side of that.

Can you give us a Wally Parks story?

LEONG: Wally Parks? Well, a lot of people might not know this, but Wally Parks’ son went to school in Hawaii, went to the University of Hawaii. Wally and Barbara were pretty close to my parents and my cousin made sure Wally’s son was doing the right thing, staying in the right places, that kind of thing.

Martin: We were thinking of Bernie Partridge who was one of our favorite announcers and how he occasionally got it wrong. I’ll never forget at Sears Point, you were there with Johnny West, The Hawaiian Punch Dodge Daytona. And Bernie was on the mic and said “Oh my, here’s a guy who’s been around the sport a while and he is one of our most famous Chinese racers.”  Do you remember that?

LEONG: To tell you the truth, I don’t remember him saying that. Dave McClellan last night ended up at the Don Prudhomme and McEwen thing, mentioning that today things were different, and said that I was a famous Chinese-Hawaiian racer. I guess it was an inside joke, but I don’t remember ever hearing that at the time, but other people have told me he said that.

  Do you think there’s a simpler and more affordable way to slow down the nitro cars without costing a lot of money?

LEONG: Well, yeah, there’s a lot of ways. It might be cheaper in the long run, but more expensive in the short run, and that’s why I think they haven’t gone there yet. They could limit the cubic inch, they could have their guys limit the fuel pump, limit the blower overdrive, a lot of those things. I suppose you have to look at it one way, as being cost effective for the racer, and that’s why I think they haven’t done some of those things.

Were funny cars when you were running them back in the day with torqueflites and stock engines more or less dangerous than today’s fuel funny cars?

LEONG:  Well, I don’t think they were any more dangerous, one way or the other. Nowadays you’ve got more safety, but they’re going a lot faster. In those days, we didn’t have as much safety, but we weren’t going as fast, and we weren’t straining the motor, we didn’t have the parts they do today. So I don’t think they were as dangerous. Any of these cars can hurt you, back then and now.

You ran the old AHRA series: What do you think of Jim Tice?

LEONG: Well, we ran AHRA mostly because we got paid to run it, just like at the time we ran IHRA just because we got paid to run. You know, they’d guarantee us money and that’s how we made our living, by match racing and getting paid to go run these cars.