Australia’s newest nitro driver is 28 year old Daniel Schultz, who was recently given the opportunity to licence in one of Santo Rapisarda’s dragsters.
Schultz normally competes in an altered in Competition, but the path for Top Fuel is being laid out in front of him.
It all started in a rather casual way.
“I went and saw Santo one afternoon and asked him what I had to do to drive for him,” Daniel explained.
“He just said to start coming to the work shop and learn about the cars. Santo gave me the opportunity of a life time when he let me crew in the States when he went over there racing last year. I learned a lot over there talking to all the drivers.”
The thrill of launching a Top Fuel dragster was like nothing he had ever felt before, Schultz said.
“The first time they strapped me in the car fully suited up I knew my dreams of being a Top Fuel driver were coming true,” he said.
“Then when they put me in the car in the staging lanes the nerves were really kicking by this time, when the car fired up and Mario gave me the signal to start my burnout I hit the throttle and the power was that overwhelming I got off the throttle but got straight back on it.
“I had a little trouble reversing the car but got that all sorted. Then when I got back and was brought forward to put the car into stage, I knew this was it and I had made it. I put the car into pre-stage, pulled my visor down put the car on the high side and pulled my foot off the clutch then bumped into stage. I waited for the green then hit the throttle and went .872 to 60 feet. A week later and I still haven’t lost the smile off my face.”
Eventually Schultz aims to drive for Santo and try to win another championship for Rapisarda Racing.
“I would love to race in the states in Top Fuel as I was over there last year with Rapisarda Racing and could not believe how fast pace everything is over there with racing,” he said.
Schultz’s racing interests began with checking out Eastern Creek Raceway.
“From memory it started when my mum Sheran got my dad “Group 1 Greg” and my brothers tickets to the old Eastern Creek Raceway and I fell in love from there,” Daniel said.
“My dad and I started racing our old blue altered in 2003 with a best of 9.02. Dad then bought the old Dennis and Jeff Gatt car where we ran a best of 8.02 in that, we then bought an ex Pro Stock Truck motor off the Panetta brothers with a best of 7.50.”
When answering a question about who he most admires in the sport, Schultz picked an unusual answer in the crew members behind the scenes.
“I have my best mate Tim Delios as my crew chief on the altered and he looks after the car at the track and helps a great deal at home when we ever need to do things before a big event,” he said.
“As for Santos Top Fuel Team, the crew is an ordinary bunch of guys that enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company as well as further expanding their knowledge of the car with every event that they attend.
“The time spent by the crew on the race car can take leisure and family time away and most importantly work. The amount of dedication is like nothing I have experienced before.”
Schultz said everyone is willing to learn on the team and share their knowledge in turn.
“Certain areas are taken care of by certain crew members. Robert Bianchi specialises in the assembly of cylinder heads, Santino specialises in blower servicing and maintenance, Santo Jnr specialises in motor block assembly as well as piston rack services and maintenance, Adam Murphy specialises in clutch maintenance and management. The remaining crew carry out general maintenance on the car and also assist in completing the specialised maintenance mentioned above. Although Santo Rapisarda doesn’t have a “hands on” role in the team, he makes all the decisions and is highly respected by the crew.
“As for me, I am currently washing parts between runs and taking care of managing the motor oil used in the car. I am still looking for ways to learn and further expand my knowledge with the assistance of this hard working and dedicated team.”
In his plans for the future, Schultz said he would like to give his crew a chance to licence in his altered.
“I wouldn’t mind stepping out of the driver’s seat of the family race car and getting my older brother Lee and my crew chief Tim Delios licensed just so they can get the thrill that I have been getting for so many years,” he said.
“But as for what I’d like to drive it will be an honour to drive full time for Santo and Rapisarda Racing.
“We have a few sponsors with the altered like Westend Performance, Rocket, Newby Engineering, Smithfield Diff & Gears and Als Race Glides.
“If we had a major sponsor with the altered we could maybe chase the national championship and may be even set some national records too.
“I just want to thank everyone for all their support with me licensing in Santo’s Top Fuel dragster and to thank Santo and all the boys at Rapisarda racing for helping me learn more about Top Fuel dragsters. I’d also like to thank my family and my best mate Tim Delios for everything they have done for me.”