Sydney-based Mark Mariani and Rapisarda Racing will be looking to build on the team’s last round result at this weekend’s 46th annual NHRA Finals at Pomona, California.
Mariani and Team Rapisarda surprised many when they qualified 15th, then eliminated championship contender Cory McClenathan in round one before losing to Antron Brown in round two at their first-ever NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
Mariani, 34, said the Rapisarda team will be looking to equal the Las Vegas result at the NHRA season-ending event before heading back to Australia to resume the ANDRa Pro Series Top Fuel championship season at Willowbank, Ipswich, January 2-3, 2011.
“The Las Vegas event and our result there were just awesome. When I realised I had won the (first round) race against Cory Mac, it was the same sensation as when I won the Nitro Champs – at Sydney Dragway in May this year.
“Our goal coming over to the US was to qualify at Las Vegas and then hopefully do better at Pomona.
“The team learnt so much and gained a lot of valuable data at Vegas, which I am sure we can capitalise on at Pomona,” Mariani said.
“With 26 cars entered at Pomona, we will have to be on our game. The first step will be to qualify and them go some rounds (of racing).
“But, at the same time we don’t want to put pressure on ourselves. Whatever the result (at Pomona), we have had a great time and will certainly take a lot of valuable experience back to Australia with us.”
Team owner, Santo Rapisarda, who made the decision to race in US three months ago, has not ruled out returning to do selected NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events next year.
Rapisarda had planned to race in the US two decades ago with his son Louie, who passed away after a tragic race accident at Willowbank Raceway in July 1990.
Now, Rapisarda is racing in the US with his two sons, Santo Jnr and Santino, an Australian crew and long-time friend, consultant and crew chief, US-based Glenn Mikres, who also won an Australian championship driving for Rapisarda.