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And now the conclusion of DRO’s interview with legendary East Coast racer, series promoter, and clutch guru, Nick “sleeps with dogs” Boninfante.
: You knew Wally Parks. You raced over there with the NHRA. What did you think of Wally?
Nicky Bonifante: Well, Wally acknowledged me when he saw me, so I really can’t make too much of an opinion, but… I ran into him a couple of times at motels, usually at the free breakfast table! At the very beginning when he started the NHRA. Wally and his wife Barbara were always very nice. If he walked in and saw me, he’d acknowledge me, and if I walked in and saw him, I go over and shake his hand. But I really didn’t have much to do with Wally.
: Did you have much contact with any of the people who ran the NHRA?
NB: You know who I liked? I liked Steve Gibbs a lot. I can tell you a funny story about Steve. I walked up to the starting line at Englishtown, and I was pissed off. I was running blown alcohol at the time. It was a National event at Englishtown. And I walk up to the starting line, and I forget what I was mad about -- they (NHRA) took our qualifying run away from us because of the rain or something. But whatever it was, I said, “Jesus Christ Steve, blah, blah, blah.” And he turned around to me -- and like I said, I’ve always liked him -- and he just looked at me and said, “Look, step up to the plate and be a professional. You’re not a professional in alcohol.” And I thought, “Hmm, I think I got the hint.” And that’s when I started doing nitro.
: What about IHRA? How do you feel about that sanctioning body?
NB: The only thing I don’t like about IHRA is that they run their (stuff) too late. They’re so laidback. And I kinda like the laidback part, if they could just keep the schedule. Now I don’t know. I haven’t run it for a while; maybe they don’t do that no more. But sometimes we’d be running real late at night. It was horrible.
: As a sanctioning body, when you were world champion over there, how did you like the IHRA? Did you like them better then NHRA?
NB: Yeah I did. That was a lot nicer over there.