Rapisarda Autosport Dominates Easter Weekend Event
Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway hosted the Santo’s Super 3 Extreme Drag Race (presented by Uplift Cranes and Titan Cranes) over the Easter holiday weekend…..
The event saw some of Australia’s best Top Fuel pilots fight it out for valuable ANDRA Drag Racing Series points as well as special recognition and added honours: the “Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy”.
On Saturday, Rapisarda Autosport International driver Allan Dobson reached his second A Final in as many nights to secure the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy and Gary Phillips set a new national record for Top Alcohol Funny Car on his way to another ANDRA Drag Racing Series win. It was an emotional victory for Crew Chief Santino Rapisarda who said he was just happy to get the win for his father Santo.
“It’s feels great,” he said. “Two of two Christmas Trees and we’ve never won the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy so that is a milestone in itself for Rapisarda Racing. “It’s great for the family, great for morale, great for the crew and great for Dad with the amount of money he invests in this sport with two cars and the amount of effort that goes in to all the crew working full time.” “I think my father is very deserving of a win like this.”
Allan Dobson was the only driver to make a clean pass during qualifying on a 4.713 at 282.60 mph with everyone else destroying inventory in a costly night. Dobson himself would blow an engine crossing the line during eliminations on a 4.717 at 287.35 mph to defeat Phil Lamattina who summed up his troublesome weekend with an early shutdown.
That set the stage for a fifth Rapisarda v Lamattina Top Fuel Racing duel of the night as Phil brother’s John Lamattina reached the A Final with a 5.629 at 172.63 mph from Damien Harris who shut down to a 9.951. With the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy awarded to the driver with the most aggregate points over both nights already secure, Dobson then set about taking maximum championship points with a 4.789 at 238.75 mph to defeat Lamattina as the engine shut of at half track on a 5.422 at 173.32 mph.
Gary Phillips turned it on in his Top Alcohol qualifier going within a whisker of the national record of 5.467 on a 5.47 to top the field. On his solo elimination pass he sliced and diced that mark to set a new record of 5.438 despite touching the wall across the line with his qualifying run enough to back up the record.
John Cannuli had the task of taking on Phillips on the back of a pair of 5.59s to reach the A Final but it would end in an anticlimax as Cannuli failed to fire while Phillips spun the tyres to win on a 21.45.
“Number one qualifier, national record, low ET, top speed and took the points,” said a beaming Phillips. “Two in a row over two nights it was bitchin’, really good.” “We’re back to square one where we should be.”
On his record setting run Phillips pulled to the center before correcting to the left scraping the wall just after passing the finish line. But that wasn’t enough to stop the seventeen-time national champion from claiming the win.
“The track is really dark and if you look there is a couple of lights out. If you look at the replay you can see dark spots and when you’re hauling there is a bump down there.” “I hit the bump and when I went through the lights I missed the chute on the first hit and then it went over and touched the headers in the braking area. We bashed the headers out, left them on there and came out in the final.”
Steve Reed took the win on a solo in the B Final with a 5.596 at 252.28 mph after Darren Fry could not start due to damage to the blower sustained in his elimination win. The Top Fuel B Final was a nonstarter as Phil Read was unable to take the light due to damage sustained in his previous two passes.
Rapisarda Autosport dominated the Friday night opening too.
Dobson had his car on a rail all night running 4.704 at 290.51 mph to top qualify. Everyone’s favourite firefighter then accounted for John Lamattina during eliminations on a 4.659 at 309.49 mph from a tyre smoking 6.874. Steve ‘Pommie’ Read joined Dobson in the A Final thanks to a pair of 4.8s however Team Rapisarda turned Good Friday into a Great Friday winning the A Final on a 4.677 from Read’s 5.35 simultaneously taking night one of the Santo’s Super 3 and Round 5 of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series.
Dobson said his three runs were picture perfect and congratulated the team for their efforts. “I’m very proud for the maturity shown by Santino (Rapisarda) and the race team to be able to display their talent and put three runs together with no fires and no rods coming out of it.” “We had one broken oil line fitting, that was the only mishap we had all night. Otherwise it was just a beautiful thing.” “For me to win this first half of the meeting for Santo and take the trophy back to him, I call it God’s blessing. The racing Gods allowed me to have a win tonight and it doesn’t matter how hard you try in this sport it can always go wrong for you.” “I feel I was very lucky to have got through and nothing go wrong.”
The B Final belonged to Damien Harris who posted a 9.661 on a troubled solo pass alongside an exhibitioning Phil Lamattina. That gave Rapisarda Autosport first and third on the night and a commanding position in the overall points for the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy.
Deb O’Rourke set Top Alcohol alight early on securing her first ever pole position over the quarter mile. That earned the IT consultant a solo pass in the uneven field running a 5.750 at 233.58 mph before tagging the wall once the parachutes deployed.
The team thrashed to get the car out for the A Final against Gary Phillips who did not register a time in qualifying, taking out the timing blocks when a shake and a pedal lifted the front end. He recovered during eliminations in an early shut off despite not plugging in the shift light in what he described as a “seat of the pants run” to beat John Cannuli on a 5.606 at 245.76 mph from 5.654 at 252.66 mph.
In the A Final O’Rourke went up in smoke allowing Phillips, who took his time staging, to take the win on a 5.619 at 239.91 mph.
“We were a little bit worried about the dew (coming into the final) because the visor and the screen began to fog,” said Phillips. “It was a touchy thing, we never had time to put a clutch in it so it was one of those things where we just run and see what happens.” “The car is there. We’ve got some new stuff we’re going to try real soon and it’s doing the job, it’s not hurting anything and that’s why Lucas Oil are paying me the money.” The B Final resulted in a win for Steven Ham with a 5.52 at 263.31 mph from Steven Reed’s 7.565.
Posted by: Tim Baker
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Photos courtesy of Phil Luyer, Fred Dwyer & dragphotos.com.au