Part One

Nick Boninfante has been one of the stars of the East Coast drag racing community for almost 50years. He started drag racing with a Dragster at Atco Dragway and his last serious race car operation was his Raybestos backed AA/FC team which won the IHRA World Championship in 1991

Recently DRO Editor Jeff Burk and occasional contributor Bobby Doerrer paid a visit to the Philadelphia shop of Boninfante Enterprises to see their clutch building factory and interview Nick Boninfane Sr.

: When did you attend and compete in your first drag race?

NB: Oh geez. 1959.

: Where was that?

NB: That was at Atco (Dragway), New Jersey. That was my first experience. I would go race my street car, flat tow it down or sometimes trailer it down. After racing there a couple of times one time I couldn’t get a qualifying run because of this guy in a dragster, Everyone, even the guy on the starting line is going, “Whoah, hold it, stop!” And then out comes the dragster and does its runs.  You know, you get ready to go and it’s, “Oh, we’re out of time now ‘cause we have to run the dragsters. I didn’t like hearing this after I’d waited in line all day to get one run, you know.

: What was your street car?

NB: It was a ’59 Pontiac. I was fortunate. It was actually my dad’s car but he didn’t know I was taking it to the drags.  I decided to build my first dragster after going to the drags one day and seeing it was no charge for the dragster guys to get  in, and I thought, “You know what, I need to get one of them dragsters.” The dragsters are here today! Yeah, I’m gettin’ one of them. And then actually the same thing happened to me with the funny cars. I showed up with my dragster, which I had been running for a while, I rolled in and I was like, “I don’t pay,” and the guy on the gate said to me, “Yes you do, the funny cars are here!” I went down and watched the nitro funny cars run.  And I got myself a funny car the next year.