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US STAR SETS NEW AUSTRALIAN RECORD WHILE LOCAL RACER CLAIMS 2 WINS IN 2 DAYS AND THE LOUIE RAPISARDA TROPHY IN ‘EXTREME’ END TO NEW WILLOWBANK EVENT

Article Date: 2 April 2013

The second and final day of the brand-new Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race at Willowbank Raceway has been punctuated by record-breaking passes, thrilling finals and a touch of emotion, with Steve ‘The Pom’ Read (Top Fuel) making it two wins from two days while claiming the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy; Gary Phillips taking victory in Top Alcohol; and US star Larry Dixon resetting the Australian Top Fuel ET record while Brisbane’s Chris Matheson put down the quickest and fastest ‘two-wheeled’ pass for the country on his Top Bike.

Visiting US drag racing royalty Dixon completed his comeback from yesterday’s incredible ‘spinning’ incident by running the quickest ever Top Fuel pass in the country to reset both the national and track elapsed time records, after storming to a 4.503 second effort at 332.02 miles per hour in his first on-track session today.  

His solo appearance in the ‘preliminary final’ (deciding third and fourth for the day) allowed him to ‘back up’ that impressive result with a 4.543 second pass, to officially see him claim the record from fellow American, the late Scott Kalitta (4.517s, Sydney 2006).

“This weekend started out as a bit of a nightmare, but it has ended up a dream – to be able to come out here and race for the Rapisarda family and to break the Australian record has just been awesome,” said Dixon.

“Racing at this track in particular is so important to his family, we tried to claim the Louie Rapisarda Trophy for Santo but unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be, but we have done some wild and crazy things this weekend and I have certainly enjoyed my time here with my family.

“To be honest, Lee and I came over here and that is great but we couldn’t do anything if we didn’t have the guys in the crew – some of them have come over from the States with us while others are from Australia and they have just done a great job.”

Dixon’s celebrated NHRA crew chief Lee Beard was very happy with the result.

“When we discussed (coming to Australia) in the States, I told Santo I want to do it right and set the track and national records, and he laughed at me – but I don’t think he is laughing now,” chuckled Beard.

Local Top Fuel veteran Read not only made it two wins in two days by claiming victory against Mildura’s Darren Morgan in the final this evening, he also claimed the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy – presented in honour of Louie Rapisarda, the son of event sponsor and Rapisarda Racing team principal Santo Rapisarda. Louie was killed in a racing accident in 1990. 

“This is unreal – it is probably the best weekend we have ever had in drag racing, it is up there with racing in America,” said Read.

“To run every one of our six passes over the two days in the four second range, straight as an arrow and each clean with no oil or leaks, was just great. To win the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy just tops it off, I raced for Santo for 12 years, so it really means a lot.”

Fifteen-time ANDRA Top Alcohol champion Gary Phillips claimed the Top Alcohol round win for the day, with Steve Ham of New Beith red lighting (jumping the start) to be disqualified.

“It was good to take the win, I saw the red light from Ham and shut it off. We have been able to continue to expand our championship lead which we have held from the start of the season, which is good news for us and for Lucas Oils,” said Phillips.

Claiming third and fourth in the Top Alcohol round this evening after competing in the ‘preliminary’ final were Brendale’s Steve Reed and Carbrook’s John Cannuli respectively.

Brisbane Top Bike pilot Chris Matheson is currently on a mission to run the first ever ‘five second’ pass on two-wheels, and came extremely close this evening with a 6.043 second pass at 241.80 miles per hour, which while not a ‘five’ is still the quickest (ET) and fastest (mph) result for a Top Bike in Australia.

“We came pretty close to the ‘five’ but to set the quickest and fastest two-wheeled pass in Australia is pretty great and I am hopeful we are going to make the five soon,” said Matheson.

“Our mile per hours were up there all weekend as we pushed it right to the end, we have some work to do, but we are going in the right direction. We really enjoyed the weekend, I think it was a great event and a credit to everyone involved – we received plenty of positive feedback from fans on the new approach and we certainly enjoyed ourselves!”

Also taking wins over at the Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race event at Willowbank Raceway were Jason Donnelly (6.90), Neil Maxwell (7.90), Darren Veal (8.90) and Dale O’Dwyer (9.50).

Next up at Willowbank Raceway is the Shannons Insurance Queensland Autospectacular (14 April), the Cruzin Magazine Nostalgia Drags (11 May) leading up to the largest drag racing event held outside of North America – the FUCHS Winternationals, over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June (Friday to Monday 7-10 June), head to www.willowbankraceway.com.au for full event information.

Willowbank Raceway is Queensland’s premier drag racing facility, located 45 minutes from Brisbane or just a short drive from Ipswich, offering a year-round program of events for the entire family. For more information including a full event calendar, please visit www.willowbankraceway.com.au

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