Three-time NHRA champ, Larry Dixon,will return to Australia to race for Rapisarda Autosport International at the East Coast Thunder meet at Sydney Dragway on November 4-5.
Dixon who will be reunited with RAI team-mates Damien Harris and Wayne Newby, last raced in Australia at the 2016 Willowbank Winternationals where he defeated Harris in the final.
Dixon’s car will be fettled by NHRA tuning wizard Lee Beard,a regular visitor to Australia for RAI.
The Harris car will be tuned by Santo Rapisarda Jnr. with Santino Rapisarda in charge of the Newby machine.
Dixon slipped into the driver’s seat for the Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway when regular pilot Newby returned to Australia for business reasons earlier this month. He qualified fifth, the best performance for the team since they began campaigning on the NHRA tour in 2011, before narrowly losing to title contender Brittany Force in first round.
“The team is delighted to have Larry on board for the East Coast Thunder meeting,” said team-owner Santo Rapisarda. “Larry is a world class driver and we saw that when he stepped into a fuel car, for the first time this season at Maple Grove, and ran a 3.79. He is popular with the fans in Australia and goes out of his way to sign autographs, merchandise and pose for photos. That to me is important, because the fans and their support mean a lot to our family and the team.”
In November 2015, RAI made history when they fielded four Fuel Cars at the East Coast Nationals - a feat never attempted in Australia. Rapisarda dismissed speculation the team had planned an encore performance at the upcoming Sydney meeting.
“No, we tried it once and once was enough,” laughed Rapisarda. “Three cars are more manageable and we are able to employ our resources much more effectively. Sydney is our home track and we want to put on a good show for the spectators, our family and friends who come along to watch the racing - the next couple of weeks will be hectic. We’ve been here in America since the Indy Nationals in September and after Las Vegas this weekend, we get to fly home and start prepping the cars for the Sydney meeting.”
With three of the expected seven entries it is inevitable that RAI team-mates will be pitted against each other on race day. A scenario not lost on the team-owner.
“It’s happened before that RAI cars race against each other. At the Winternationals we had three of the four cars in the semi-finals, I’m not worried about RAI cars going head to head, there are no team orders, I just want to see them race hard, fast and fair, and good luck to all three cars,” Rapisarda said.