American Top Fuel racer, Cory McClenathan, is eager to win Australia’s most prestigious drag race event, the Winternationals, to be held at Willowbank Raceway, Ipswich, this weekend (Friday-Monday, June 10-13).
McClenathan, from Brownsburg, Indiana, will drive one of two Top Fuel cars entered by Sydney-based Rapisarda Racing/Titan Cranes team at the 44th annual Castrol EDGE Winternationals.
The second Rapisarda car will be driven by Mark Mariani from Sydney.
McClenathan, who previously raced in Australia at Sydney Dragway in December 2007, where he reached the semi final, has an impressive (National Hot Rod Association) NHRA record, including winning 34 Top Fuel events from 65 final appearances and four Top Alcohol events from six finals.
Cory Mac, as he is affectionately known, has also won the 1996 and 1999 US Nationals and has finished second in the NHRA Top Fuel championship series four times (1992, 1995, 1997 and 1998).
McClenathan finished third in last year’s (NHRA) championship and, in an ironic twist, had his chance of winning his first championship dashed when now teammate, Mariani, beat him in the first round of eliminations at the 2010 NHRA penultimate Las Vegas Nationals event.
McClenathan said he did not have to think for very long before accepting Rapisarda Racing principle, Santo Rapisarda’s invitation to drive for his team at Willowbank.
“I’m very excited to be heading back to Australia and to be racing with Santo Rapisarda,” McClenathan said.
“The Winternationals is an event that everyone in America knows about and it’s one that a lot of guys would love to head down under for.
“Fortunately, this year, I am available and, when Santo (Rapisarda) asked me, I was very quick to accept.
“To come to Willowbank and have the opportunity to win the Winternationals for Rapisarda Racing at a venue that is so close to the Rapisarda family’s heart would mean the world to me. Plus I cannot wait to see the Australian drag racing fans again.”
McClenathan said while Top Fuel races over 1000 feet (304.8 metres) in the NHRA, he is looking forward to racing over the traditional quarter-mile (403.5 metres) this weekend.
He was the first driver to break the 320mph (514.99km/h) barrier over quarter-mile with a 322.17mph (518.48km/h) pass at Dallas in 1997 and was the first driver in NHRA history to run in the 4.70-second zone with a pass of 4.799 pass at Reading in 1992.
“It will be a change for me to come and race a full quarter-mile again. The NHRA switched to 1000-foot racing a few years ago. I hope that I don’t shut off early.”
The Winternationals is not the only event McClenathan will drive for Rapisarda Racing this year. He will also drive the Rapisarda US-based team car in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in the second half of the year, including the US Nationals at Indianapolis.
“I had the idea to bring Cory (McClenathan) to Australia when we spoke at the (recent) Topeka (NHRA) event. He had to think for about 10 seconds before he accepted the offer to come and race one of my cars,” Rapisarda said.
“Cory will also be driving for Rapisarda Racing in the US, if not at Bristol in a few weeks time, certainly at Brainerd and the US Nationals at Indianapolis next month.
“Cory Mac is without doubt one of the world’s best Top Fuel racers, a true professional and his results speak for themselves.
“To win the Winternationals with Cory would be just phenomenal for our team. Willowbank means so much to my family and this event means so much to us,” Rapisarda said.