Although he had driven competitively at some loosely organized events in his native Hawaii and even though he had enjoyed some driving success in a Top Gasser on the mainland, Roland Leong probably would not have become a drag racing legend if his need for speed hadn’t sent him crashing off the end of Lions Drag Strip on his first lap as an aspiring Top Fuel driver.

That accident compelled legendary track operator C.J. “Pappy” Hart to suspend his driving privileges at the sport’s most famous track, an act that steered him to an enormously successful career outside the cockpit as owner and tuner of a slew of race cars bearing the “Hawaiian” name.

In this episode of Legends: The Series, Season Three, Leong talks about growing up in Hawaii (“you either surf or you race”), about how, as 20-somethings, he and Don Prudhomme became among the first “touring pros” and about being able to do “something that people dream about doing and doing it all our lives.”

He also talks about his many drivers, about how and why he made the move from Top Fuel to Funny Car in 1969 and about how drag racing is “still something I love to do and it’s probably something I’m going to end up” doing till I die.