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: What was nicer about it?

NB: The people were real. They talked to you nice; they don’t look down their nose at you. Financially, I got a lot more money then (from Raybestos) some of the guys at NHRA were telling me what to do, and they’re looking down their nose at me, treating me like scum or a dirtball, you know? They (NHRA) got an attitude. Maybe that describes it better. They got an attitude over there. And they look down their nose at you. And IHRA is like the good old days. They’re family. And they get the same things done by being friendly. They probably get more done than by looking down their nose and being mean to the racers.

: Is there anything in particular in your career that you’re most proud of? Like winning the 1989 World Championship in IHRA? Is there something in particular you can put your finger on and say, “This is what I am proudest of in my career”?

NB: A couple of things. Yeah, the IHRA thing. I’ve always wanted to win over at NHRA. Never did, and my IHRA win, it blew me away. It was just great. I was on a high for like a year. And then another thing that makes me happy is that I was able to drag my whole family in and have them with me all through my life so far. Nicky Jr. I’m real proud of and Rob too.  Jeez. If I was to pinpoint it, the highlight, the best that I’ve ever done was to win the IHRA World Championship.

You know what, having a model of the race car made by Revell, that ranks right up there with winning the World Championship, you know.  I gotta say that. Boy, having a model made of my car? I remember being a little kid, building models down in the basement, and here all of a sudden I’ve got a model, and they even stuck my puss on the model box. Wow. So I gotta say that that really ranks up there with winning the IHRA World Championship, getting the model of the car made.

: When did you switch from Chevy to Hemi?

NB: About the time we did the fuel deal, because the Chevy was a puker. It was hard to keep it from puking oil out and we had to make the switch. It was like, “If we’re going to be serious about doing this nitro thing, guys, we’ve got to make the big switch.” We were still running out of a Philly rowhouse that I owned. I had the guys, John Helms and (Btuch) Maas was on my team, and me and Nicky Jr.  Sometime before the start of the season we went to the kitchen, sat around the kitchen table specifically to talk about what we were going to do next year. I said, “Look guys, I made up my mind. We’re going to get rid of the Chevys finally, and we’re going to switch to a Hemi all the way and we’re going to go with fuel. And I’m going to tell you guys now, it’s going to be a big effort, it’s going to be tough on everybody, and it’s a lot more work. Are you guys in my corner? I want to do it. I can’t afford to pay you a dime. I can get you to the races and back and feed you, but that’s it. And it might turn out to be something.”

That was the year that we did it, that we got the little bit of a thing going there at Maple Grove. It scratched the match, and we actually got off pretty good with a sponsor when we switched over and really did it.

: But switching to nitro was what brought the sponsorship?

NB: Yeah. Oh yeah. In those days, I didn’t know a whole lot of people, if any, that got an alcohol sponsorship.

: Let’s talking about safety, the thousand-foot track for nitro cars and all. How do you feel about all of it? Do you feel this is the right direction?

NB: Yeah, I do. Let me say this: I have a little bit of a story to answer that question. One thing I’ve always been very, very happy about with NHRA is them being overkill with safety. I mean, I really think that’s good. ‘Cause if we’ve got guys getting killed out there every race, forget it. Something’s going to come down on us and say, “Hey, you guys can’t keep doing this.” And so the safety deal at NHRA is terrific. But I think they don’t get to the right people sometimes. Like I can tell you the chassis deal was a freakin’ nightmare for all those teams out there. Hard chassis, soft chassis, this chassis, that chassis.

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