Karl Boniface is best known as the man behind the gas mask in the Nitro Flashback. Channelling the wave of nostalgia in the US for nitro funny cars ten years ago earned Karl a special place in New Zealand motorsport world.
It all started at a much simpler level. In the late 80s he started tagging along with some guys who were into the drags at Invercargill’s Teretonga track. Pretty soon he was working as an official, and that morphed into becoming an event organiser for the best part of a decade.
Then came a major step in a new direction. On a trip to the States, he found a ’68 Camaro drag car, bought it and shipped it home. It was a winner first time out. When competition hotted up, the race for more power and a more competitive machine was on. It came in the form of a Chevy Vega Top Fuel funny car. At first, people didn’t believe he was serious about running a nitro car, but disbelief turned into awe when the Vega rolled out.
Running a car that pulls 200 plus isn’t for the faint-hearted. And it’s hard to do without support. Castrol came on board back in the 90s when he was running the Camaro. Castrol’s involvement has been a lot more than putting a sticker with the Castrol logo on the side of the car. Traditionally, nitro cars ran 70 weight oil, so Karl was surprised when Castrol’s technical team suggested the new 25W-50 Formula R which has evolved into Castrol EDGE 25W-50. First time out, there was an immediate performance improvement, and over a decade later the team still swears by the product. Even more impressive, it was possibly the first time anyone in the world had run a nitro car using the same oil you can use in your street car.
Having expanded the team with the addition of the famous ex-Hogan-Berry car, Karl’s future with Castrol is looking good.