Santo Rapisarda Racing has claimed the most prestigious event on the Australian drag racnig calendar, the Fuchs Nationals, when NHRA ace Cory McClenathan defeated Andrew Cowin in the final of Top Fuel at Sydney Dragway on September 11.
“What can I say, it was a great result for the team.” said Santo Rapisarda. “I’m very happy for my boys Santo Junior and Santino. It was a long three days and the whole team stepped up to the challenge of running Cory’s car and a second car for Mark Mariani. When we arrived on Friday and the first round of qualifying got washed out I had no idea that two days later we would be standing here with the Top Fuel Christmas tree.”
Cory McClenathan, from seventh qualifying spot advanced to the final after accounting for young gun Damien Harris and former champ Phil Lamattina. The final will long be remembered as one of the most entertaining in recent years at the Sydney venue.
Cowin took the lead off the line only to smoke the tyres while the Rapisarda pilot rattled the tyres then popped the chutes near half- track. With his parachutes billowing in the wind McClenathan kept on the power and sped to the end zone to claim victory much to the delight of the Sydney audience.
“I really enjoyed the final,” said McClenathan. “Pedalling a car is something I learned a long time ago and it came in handy today. The saying is when it’s Sunday and the race is on the line you don’t lift, you just keep the boot into it.”
Team-mate Mark Mariani qualified in fifth spot and fell to reigning Australian champ Darren Morgan in the first round. Mariani’s campaign ended after suffering a broken exhaust adjuster.
“It was disappointing to go out early but Cory’s win was a terrific result, for not only the boys but for Santo as well,” said Mariani.
“The only disappointment for the weekend is that my long time friend Bob Shepherd has decided to quit racing,” said Rapisarda. “I don’t want to see Bob quit and I’m going to be talking to him to get him to change his mind. I have a few ideas that I will be talking to Bob about. The sport needs characters like Bob.”