Rapisarda Autosport International is set to join forces with NHRA driver Dom Lagana for the upcoming 60th Chevrolet Performance US Nationals at Indianapolis.
For the Rapisarda team, attending their ‘home-town’ race in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello series was never a question, the only decision was who would pilot the car.
Santo Rapisarda Jnr, who will be co-tuning with his brother Santino, explained the reasoning behind their decision to go with an American driver.
“Dad sat down with Santino and I to make a decision as we obviously had a couple of candidates in mind,” he said. “But in the end it came down to someone that had plenty of NHRA experience, that would fit in the car with minimal changes and that could adapt well to the team and, for us, that was Dom.”
Dom Lagana, the 28 year old Scarsdale, NY native, has been involved in drag racing his whole life, following in both his father and older brother’s footsteps and taking over driving duties of the family’s Top Fuel dragster in 2009.
He first met the Rapisarda boys and their father at their maiden NHRA event in Vegas in 2010, where Dom made it to the final round and took out his first career runner-up. The two families have remained friends since.
Lagana is enthusiastic to be teaming up with the RAI operation.
“It’s really very exciting to be able to work with them and to get the chance to drive at Indy,” he said. “The entire Rapisarda family has a huge passion for the sport of drag racing just like my brother and I do and have had our entire lives. The only way I know drag racing is as a family orientated sport and that’s exactly the way the Rapisardas race. It’s very inspiring that they always continue to race in the memory of Louie.
“The RAI team have definitely stepped up their equipment over the years, having very close to all the late model parts of the bigger teams. I’m excited not only to be able to drive but also to get to work and get my hands dirty on the car.
“My goals are first and foremost to do the best possible job that I can driving for them and to give it our best shot to try and qualify for the very tough field.”
Lagana joked about another goal – avoiding too much food at the Rapisarda family’s famous feasts.
“I would like to try and not gain more than 10 pounds of weight throughout the weekend because as we all know, no one leaves Santo’s pit hungry,” he said.
Lagana will be driving the same dragster that both Tommy Johnson Jnr and Larry Dixon drove in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello series for RAI.