One of Canada’s most dedicated drag racers crossed off a bucket list item recently – while attending the world’s largest drag race….

As almost anyone who has attended in the past can attest – a trip to NHRA’s history ridden U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis — can be pretty special.  

And that was certainly the case earlier this month when Joe Boniferro, a long time and avid supporter of drag racing in Eastern Canada, attended that iconic event for the very first time.

Joe decided to make a “road trip” from his home in Niagara Falls Ontario to Indy with his son Ryan for the 2018 version of the now Chevrolet Performance presented event marathon.  And when Joe’s SS/FA classed 1969 Barracuda rolled to the starting line for qualifying on Thursday, within the grand scheme of things, that was a pretty rewarding personal moment for him.

“Smokin’ Joe” sighting at Indy!

Not only did he enter a car that he has owned personally for 35 years he was beaming with the fact that his son was the driver.    While the car did not actually qualify for the incredibly tough 128-car Super Stock field (a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series class that drew in 172 entries and had a numbing bump of -.680!) the experience racing at Indy was still all of what he expected and had wished for.

“Believe it or not – I had never come to Indy before,” he affirmed.  “I saw a window of opportunity open to come and race my car here and in my heart there was nothing I wanted to see more then my son Ryan have that chance – so there I was.  I also got a laugh out of the fact that it took me some 50 years to be able to come and attend my first US Nationals event – compare that to my Grandson (little Tony!) – who got his first Indy experience here this weekend — at only 6 months old!”

Joe and Ryan entered their very cool ’69 model which is a car that has seen quite an evolution in itself.  It’s also a very rare legal package for Super Stock cars of that year — using a 440 CID motor and single four barrel — according to Joe there was actually only 693 versions made in total.  

Ryan Boniferro wheeled his SS/FA ’69 Barracuda to a best time of 10.279 secs at Indy but that fell shot of the brutally tough Super Stock bump.

“I’ve had this car pretty much forever — and it was the first car Ryan ever drove after he turned 16,” Joe continued.  “We’ve now converting it over to a full fledged Super Stock car — which is really new territory for me because as you know most of my time racing was spent with Pro Mod and Top Sportsman stuff.   I didn’t come to Indy with really high expectations – but that really wasn’t the point this time.  We do have some Steve Wann motor components and our objective is to come and play with it at more and more races in the future.  We did learn some things, i.e. — we’re going to need some bigger tires (he winked).”

After proving himself well in both ET and 10.90 index class racing in and around Ontario – Ryan Boniferro — is now poised take his talents more into NHRA class car racing.

And while Joe Boniferro’s dabbling in Super Stock with this ‘Cuda may be a first – the likelihood is that his story will not end there.  The long time Mopar brand proponent also has a 1968 Hemi Dart back home in Niagara Falls which has been an ongoing and developing project of his for a number of seasons now.  Joe’s interest was pretty evident while watching the 2018 Dodge Hemi Challenge event held on Friday at Indy — and one could surmise (?) that may very well be an indication of  future things to come.

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling