Legendary NHRA car owner and crew chief, Roland Leong passed away Dec. 29. He was 79.

Born and raised on the island of Oahu, Leong took to fast cars when hot rod culture made its way to the Hawaiian Isl ands in the late 1950s. He spent a lot of time hanging around a local speed shop which served to throw gasoline onto an already growing flame.

“I remember taking my mother’s 1959 Oldsmobile out at night, promising her that I wouldn’t race, but I didn’t keep my promise very often,” Leong noted in the Sept/Oct issue of Vintage Motorsport.

Leong became a successful gas dragster racer in Hawaii but knew the real action was in California. His mother lined up a job for him at Jim Nelson and Dode Martin’s Dragmaster Company in Carlsbad, Calif. and Leong headed east in the early ’60s.

While at Dragmasters, Leong cut his teeth doing all the work that would serve him well throughout his career. Everything from rebuilding engines and chassis painting to sweeping the floors and bathroom duty. He also began to see just what it took to run a successful race team.

Fellow Hawaiian racer Danny Ongais also made the mainland move with Leong and worked at Dragmasters along with racing their cars. The Hawaiian duo worked together in 1964, winning the Top Gas class at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona.

Read the full story at VintageMotorsport.com.