Team Rapisarda set to race in the US

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Multiple Australian championship-winning Rapisarda Racing will compete against the world’s best Top Fuel drag race teams at the final two (National Hot Rod Association) NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events later this year.  

The Sydney-based two-car Top Fuel team will race at the 10th Annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals from October 28-31 and the 46th NHRA Finals at Pomona from November 11-14.  

Competing in the US is the realisation of a long-held dream for Rapisarda Racing team principle Santo Rapisarda.

Rapisarda planned to race in the US two decades ago with his son Louie, who passed away after a tragic race accident at Willowbank Raceway, Brisbane, in July 1990. Now 20 years later, Rapisarda will race in the US with his two younger sons, Santo Jnr and Santino, both who have leading roles running the team. 

Rapisarda will take team driver Mark Mariani and most of the crew that work on the Mariani car to the US, while long-time US-based Rapisarda Racing consultant and crew chief, Glenn Mikres, will oversee the operation.

Santo Rapisarda Jnr said his father (Santo Snr) has expressed an interest to take his team to the US for several years.

“Louie wanted to race in America. Dad wants to do this (race in the US) for Louie and with our own team. We are now going to finish something that was started over 20 years ago by Louie,” Rapisarda Jnr said.

“We are taking almost a full crew from Australia. Glenn (Mikres) will oversee the operation, just as he does in Australia.

“Doing the two (US) events will certainly be a good experience and a huge learning curve for the team. Just the experience of the faster turnarounds and competing against more cars is going to be great. Hopefully we can do well.” 

Rapisarda has shipped a car and the transporter the team purchased from California-based David Baca Motorsport last year to the US for the two-race assault.      

“We have sent the car that Alan Dobson drove last season back to the US with the ex-Baca truck and trailer and enough motors and parts to do the two events.” 

Rapisarda Jnr said the team plans to leave the car and transporter in the US and possibly compete in several NHRA events next year.

“We will leave the operation in the US and if all goes well at these two events, we will look at doing some (NHRA) events that do not clash with our (ANDRA championship) races in Australia, perhaps the first few races at start of next year.” 

Mariani, who capped off his first full-season in the (Australian National Drag Racing Association) ANDRA Pro Series ranks, winning the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway and finishing fourth in the 2009-2010 Top Fuel championship series, said racing in the US is a dream come true.  

“When Santo (Snr) said he is going to send a car to the US and wanted me to drive it, my jaw hit the floor. I am still in shock, but I guess when we get on the plane it’ll be like; I’m really going to do this. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself or the team, but if we are able to qualify and go a few (elimination) rounds that would be sensational, particularly against world class drivers and teams.”  

Mariani also said there is a good opportunity for Australian or US companies that do business in one or both countries to join the Rapisarda team as it is a sponsor partner.  

“With a two-car team in Australia and another in the US, it is a great opportunity for a progressive company to get exposure in both countries,” Mariani said. 

Rapisarda Racing will run two cars at next month’s Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway, but will miss the October 30-31 Sydney championship round due to the US trip.

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