Volume X, Issue 2, Page 61

Martin: I think I’ve asked you this in probably one of the articles I’ve done, but I remember you were a fixture on Ben Christ and the US 30 Gary, Indiana, scene. Those guys used to run three times a week and you ran them. Would that be a good thing to go back to, match races? To build the crowds, or do they even need it?

LEONG: First of all, I think a lot of these little tracks, they’re looking for attractions, they’re looking for different shows. You ain’t going to get any of the big guys because, number one, it costs too much to run these cars. Number two, their schedule is so demanding that all the crews would quit if you told them they had to go match race. So, yes, I think there is a good possibility of some name cars match racing like we did in the old days in the beginning of the show. To a lot of these little dragstrips that otherwise couldn’t afford the show. They could even have nitro funny cars or jet cars or wheelstanders.

Martin: You know Ben Christ is in Hawaii. He’s got a big business there. I called him and he’s much like Wally Parks was, who remembered exactly what you asked him. He’s a very sharp cookie. He’s been there for years. Ben Christ Capital Promotions, which sounds just about right. He was saying that if drag racing would find a way in the minor league or AAA ball club way to generate new fans, it would really help the sport in terms of its big events. You get plenty of TV now, but there’s plenty of folks who can’t make those. You get a two out of three show, like at Gary, Indiana, that’d help.

LEONG: There’s a lot of that now with this nostalgia series now that’s beginning to pick up. But what’s wrong with the nostalgia series is that there’s not very many name cars that people remember from before. Just think about how long it takes for these guys to make a name. I mean, it’d be forever. It’d never happen. That’s why I’m in the process of maybe putting a Hawaiian body on this car.

Why’d you get involved with nostalgia funny cars?

LEONG: Well actually it was kind of a challenge. Like anything else, it was different, it was new. I wanted to see if I could do it. I like challenges and I like racing, and that’s why I’m here.

Are these cars actually anything like the cars they’re supposed to represent? Like motors, tires, clutches, fuel systems, and blowers. Anything similar to what you ran back in match racing days?

LEONG:  Not much. Maybe the magnetos. It’s a 6-71 blower, but over the years when the big cars were running 14-71’s, they said “Okay guys, that’s all you can have, the biggest blower.” And then they had to make the 14-71 better, more efficient. Well, they took that technology and applied it to the 6-71. So, before where we used to run 30, 40, 50 percent overdrive, now because the blowers are so efficient, we don’t have to run them so fast. And now it’s all aluminum blocks, aluminum heads, where back then, we used cast iron blocks and cast iron heads.

Martin: Lance Larson calls it ‘Newstalgia.’

LEONG: Newstalgia, yeah.

Over the years, you’ve had a reputation for hiring and firing drivers. Who was the best driver you’ve ever had and who was the worst?

LEONG: Well, I’d have to say the best was Ron Capps. The worst? Uhh… I don’t know.

Two last questions for you. For your favorite music, would it be Don Ho or Donald Fagan?

LEONG: Who’s Donald Fagan? There’s this new Hawaiian guy who died, call him Iz, just I, Z. His music was Finding Forrester, he played a ukulele. He died of being overweight at 37 years old, I think and he had a hell of a voice. He’s not as mainstream as Don Ho, but basically, I listen more to Hawaiian music than anything else.

And then one last question: boxers of briefs?

LEONG: Briefs. 

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