Sainty to drive for Rapisarda in NHRA

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Popular Sydney Top Fuel drag racer, Terry Sainty, will race in the (National Hot Rod Association) NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series this year after accepting an invitation to drive for Rapisarda Racing.

Rapisarda Racing team principle, Santo Rapisarda, offered the plum US drive to Sainty after he drove for Rapisarda at the recent Perth (Australian National Drag Racing Association) ANDRA Pro Series event and after regular team driver Mark Mariani could not make the US trip due to business commitments. 

While Sainty will drive for Team Rapisarda in the US, in Australia he will continue to drive the family-owned Sainty Engineering Top Fuel car in ANDRA Pro Series events.

Rapisarda Racing team manager Santo Rapisarda Jnr, confirmed the team had considered several US-based NHRA drivers, including Steve Torrence, Cory McClenathan and Tommy Johnson Jnr, before offering the drive to Sainty.

Rapisarda said if Sainty cannot make any of the scheduled US events, Johnson has agreed to drive the car.

At this stage, Rapisarda Racing will do 12 NHRA Full Throttle events including, the Winternationals (February 24-27), Pomona, California, Las Vegas (April 1-3), the Four-Wide Nationals (April 14-17), Charlotte, North Carolina, Southern Nationals (May 13-15), Atlanta, Georgia, Summer Nationals (May 20-22), Topeka, Kansas, Thunder Valley Nationals (June 17-19), Bristol, Tennessee, Norwalk, Ohio (June 23-26), Brainerd, Minnesota (August 18-21), the US Nationals (August 31-September 5), Indianapolis, Indiana, Arizona Nationals (October 14-16), Phoenix, Las Vegas Nationals (October 27-30), and the NHRA Finals (November 10-13), Pomona. 

Rapisarda said the team have not ruled out doing the western swing, the Mile-High Nationals (July 22-24), Denver, Colorado, Sonoma, California (July 29-31) and the Northwest Nationals (August 5-7), Seattle, Washington. 

He also said if the team is doing well in the Full Throttle points chase, other events could be added to the NHRA schedule.  

Rapisarda said the team will continue to race in Australia, with Mariani driving at the March Willowbank event and Alan Dobson in a second car at the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway.   

“We will do the test session at Las Vegas (February 21-22) then go to Pomona before coming back to do the Willowbank (Top Fuel) round,” Rapisarda said.

“We will then go back and do Vegas and Charlotte before coming back to Australia for the Nitro Champs; them go back to the US and do Atlanta and Topeka. We will be back home for the Winternationals (Willowbank), then return to do the rest of the NHRA events.” 

Rapisarda said along with him and Santo Snr, the US team will also include his brother, Santino, another Rapisarda Racing full-time employee, Robert Bianchi, long-time US-based Rapisarda Racing crew chief and team adviser, Glenn Mikres, another long-time crew member, Gus Ussia, Adam Murphy and Steve Mundey.

Sainty said while it was a dream to race in the US when he first started driving in 1992, in recent years it was not a consideration, until Rapisarda Snr asked if he would be interested in the US drive while in Perth.

“When I was younger it was a dream to take our (Sainty-built) engines to the US and race, but that was squashed when the NHRA banned that engine design. Since then, I have not thought about going to the US as part of another team.” 

Sainty, who owns and runs an industrial machinery maintenance company, said the Rapisarda offer is an extremely generous one and he is one hundred percent committed to racing in the US.

“When Santo asked me in Perth if I would be interested in driving his car in the US, I didn’t give him an answer straight away. I came home and discussed it with my family.

“Mum and Dad are very supportive and it was Dad’s (Stan) dream to take the original (Sainty) motor we built for America over there to race. I suppose this is the next best thing, racing in the NHRA with one of Dad’s best mates, Santo (Rapisarda).

“Santo is a very generous man. I am extremely proud and privileged to drive his car in the US. It is a great opportunity and I’m one hundred percent committed.

“I have known Glenn Mikres since he first came to race in Australia, around the same time I started racing Top Fuel. It will be great to race with Santo, Glenn, Santo Jnr, Santino and the rest of the Rapisarda team in the US.”

Rapisarda Racing contested the final two NHRA Full Throttle events, Las Vegas and the NHRA Finals at Pomona with Mariani late last year after shipping a car and transporter the team purchased from David Baca Motorsport back to the US.

Photo by Roger Richards


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