RAPISARDA AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL has inked a deal with NHRA star Tommy Johnson for the remainder of the 2013 Mello Yello season commencing with the Sonoma and Seattle rounds of the iconic Western Swing.
“We’re delighted that Tommy has come on board for the remainder of the season, said co –tuner Santo Rapisarda. “TJ” is an excellent fit with our team, great on the Christmas tree, a genuine down to earth character and was a valuable contributor to our family team when he raced for RAI at Sydney Dragway and Willowbank earlier this season.
We enjoyed our time with Larry Dixon, who is one of the best drivers in Top Fuel and we wish him and his family all the best and are looking forward to racing against him in the future.”
The signing of Johnson will also see a revamp of RAI operations for the remainder of the season that will also include the Brainerd and the 59th U.S. Nationals.
“We have made several changes to the crew and team personnel.” Explained Santino Rapisarda. “My brother Santo and I will continue to tune the car. We also have a healthy relationship with Don Schumacher Racing, which is a major plus for our team. We did have Glenn Mikres over for a couple of rounds to oversee the day-to-day team operations but Glenn was not involved in the tune- up.
The focus on the team with “TJ” will be achieving consistency. We have qualified for every meeting this year, which shows we are in the right track but have been plagued by small mistakes along the way. The car is making plenty of power and we have been working to getting the clutch set up right for the first- half of the track. Getting stuck between combinations has been the main reason we have not run consistently faster. It is a real challenge. We can make a nice clean lap, then for no reason things go wrong. The car gets hurt; we put it back together and make another clean lap. It’s frustrating because the car is close.”
“We have never raced at Sonoma or Seattle and are really looking forward to the challenge. “Said Santo Jr.
“Tommy has been at the workshop over the last couple of days getting organised and is excited at the prospect to be back behind the wheel. There is a good spirit around the team and can’t wait until we leave next week for the 2250 mile trek from Indy to Sonoma.”