Louie Rapisarda Tribute: a race within a race

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Top Fuel drivers at this weekend’s Fuchs Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway (SD) will race for the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Tribute trophy and a large cash bonus.

After recent private testing Andrew Cowin will make his competition return
After recent private testing Andrew Cowin will make his competition return
Established by long-time Top Fuel stalwart, Santo Rapisarda, the Rapisarda family and Sydney Dragway, the Louie Rapisarda Tribute marks the 20th anniversary of Santo’s son Louie’s passing after a tragic race accident at Willowbank Raceway in July 1990.  

Originally, the Louie Rapisarda Tribute was to see Top Fuel drivers earn points during qualifying at the ANDRA Pro Series Summernationals and Nitro Champs events at SD.

However, following the rained-out Summernationals in February, Mildura-based Darren Morgan won the first Louie Rapisarda Top Qualifier Trophy and $2500 at the Nitro Champs in May.

At Fuchs Australian Nationals, the top eight qualifiers after the first qualifying session (Friday 3pm) will be awarded points, with the top qualifier receiving eight points; second qualifier, seven points; third qualifier, six points; fourth qualifier, five points; fifth qualifier, four points; sixth qualifier, three points; seventh qualifier, two points and eighth qualifier, one point.

The second Nationals qualifying session (Friday, approximately 6.55pm) will see the top eight point-scorers – with points awarded from the first Nationals session added to points earned from the Nitro Champs – seeded and race-off in the Louie Rapisarda tribute shootout (elimination format).

The top point-scorer will race against the eighth point-scorer; second against seventh; third against sixth and fourth against fifth.

The third qualifying session (Saturday, approximately 4.30pm) will see the four winners race-off with the two winners then facing each other in the shootout final during the fourth and final qualifying session.

The winner of that race will receive the Louie Rapisarda Tribute trophy and $10,000 prize money, while the runner-up receives $5000 prize money.

Morgan currently leads the Louie Rapisarda Tribute with eight points, followed by Phil Read (7pts), Martin Stamatis (6pts), Allan Dobson (5pts), Mark Mariani (4pts), Phil Lamattina (3pts) Bob Shepherd (2pts) and Terry Sainty (1pt).  

Anyone of the 12 drivers entered for the Fuchs Australian Nationals has a chance of qualifying for the Louie Rapisarda Tribute shootout, a race within a race.

Santo Rapisarda said the motivation in establishing the Louie Rapisarda Tribute was to help his fellow Top Fuel competitors. 

“Louie liked to help other racers and I am the same. I really hope the Louie Rapisarda Tribute will help some of the teams who battle through events and I wanted it (the tribute) to be at the Sydney Dragway because of my family’s long-standing connection with Sydney and the tribute to be a fitting memorial to Louie,” Rapisarda said.

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