News Archive


Written by: Luke Nieuwhof, May 3rd 2018

The 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series will welcome a familiar face in a not so familiar class back to competition this weekend, as Emilio Spinozzi makes his Pro Slammer debut in the Speedmaster Chevelle.


Spinozzi will take on some famous names as part of the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder event, including John Zappia, Ben Bray and Paul Mouhayet.


After some two years out of professional competition, Spinozzi said he would just like to be present in the moment, with many runs to enjoy thanks to the all-run format.


Written by: John Doig, May 30th 2017

3-time NHRA champion, Larry Dixon, will race alongside Rapisarda Autosport International team-mates, Damien Harris and Wayne Newby, at the 50th anniversary Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway.

“Anytime you get a phone call from Santo to race for the family team is an honour and privilege," said Dixon, who last raced for RAI at Sydney Dragway in November 2016. “Santo has assembled a great team with all the right equipment and crew, as well as having Lee Beard on board to tune the car for the meeting. I’m also excited to be returning to race at Willowbank.”

With RAI star Wayne Newby needing only to qualify to win the 2016-17 400 Thunder Championship, the team travels to Willowbank Raceway with three goals in mind. To claim the 400T title, take out back-to-back Winternationals titles and be the first team in Australian drag racing history to run under the 4.50 second barrier.





Newby Looking for Willowbank Breakout Win

Written by: John Doig, January 5th 2017


Rapisarda Autosport International star, Wayne Newby, will be chasing his first win at Willowbank Raceway in Top Fuel at the New Year Thunder meeting on Saturday January 7.
Since making his debut in late 2014 Sydney based Newby has finished runner-up at the Willowbank Winternationals twice. In 2015, he lost to team-mate and NHRA star Cory McClenathan, then, last season came up short against team-mate and 3-time NHRA champ Larry Dixon. 

Newby will go into the meeting warm favourite on the strength of a strong win over rising star Peter Xiberras in the final of the East Coast Nationals at Sydney Dragway in November and slew strong performances over the latter half of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series.





Written by: John Doig, June 23rd 2016


Rapisarda Autosport International star Damien Harris and gun tuner Santo Rapisarda Jr have created Top Fuel history taking out the inaugural 400 Thunder Top Fuel title when his only rival, team-mate Wayne Newby, lost to the American combo of Larry Dixon and Lee Beard in the final of the 49th annual Willowbank Winternationals.


“We wanted to win the title on the track and not rely on Larry to beat Wayne in the final,” explained Harris. “But, what’s most important is the Rapisarda family have taken both titles up for grab this weekend.” 


 Santino Rapisarda, tuner on the Newby car, was characteristically up-beat despite missing out on winning both the 400 Thunder title and Winternationals crown. “The track got cold before the final and we just couldn’t get the car to stick. At the end of the day what mattered is that a Rapisarda car won. That’s what counts.”  




Team Mopar Make History with Australian Championship

Written by: Drag News Australia, June 18th 2016



It has long been one of the most popular cars in the Pro Stock paddock, but Lee Bektash’s Team Mopar Australia machine is fast becoming one of the most successful too, with the Victorian driver securing the 2016 400 Thunder Championship at the Winternationals in Queensland.


“We didn’t have it all our own way, the Winternationals wasn’t the perfect event for us by any means but the result is certainly the one that we are after,” said Bektash.


“This year’s championship was not an easy one to win and I think I am even more proud that we did it with two local guys spearheading our operation with both engine and chassis tuning in Paul ’Plucka’ Drady and Tony Corosio. I can’t say enough about the entire Team Mopar Australia crew for putting absolutely everything into making sure we achieved the very best result possible – and we did it!





Cannuli from Wrecks to Records

Written by: Drag News Australia, June 18th 2016



Any champion will tell you that the road to number one is a mixture of highs, lows and plenty in between.


For Queensland Alcohol Funny Car racer John Cannuli, he knows all too well what it’s like to go from zero to hero. He cut his teeth in the Pro Street ranks for many years before going into Supercharged Outlaws after winning the first Supercharged Outlaw event at Sydney Dragway in 2004. After that Cannuli never looked back, stepping into the professional Group 1 ranks with the purchase of an ex-Jeff Burnett Top Alcohol Pontiac Funny Car in 2006.


“Initially we never had a lot of success in Top Alcohol,” said Cannuli. “We were with the big boys now and had a lot to learn - it’s always been a tough class with hard racers, but I never gave up. Back in the 2005/2006 ANDRA Championship, I finished 14th - then over the years we continued to climb the ladder until finally scoring a number one in 2016.





Larry Dixon returns to Rapisarda Autosport International for 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, June 2nd 2016



Photo Credit: Grant Stephens


Former three time NHRA Mello-Yellow world champion, Larry Dixon, will be making the trip ‘Down-Under’ for the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway, June 9 – 12 for Rapisarda Autosport International.


For Dixon, the trip marks his second trip to Australia, the first being back in 2013 where he attended the Santo’s Super Three event, where he made headlines by performing a 360 degree spin during the opening round of qualifying. The team then managed to re-build the car and go on to record the quickest ever quarter mile pass outside of North America with a 4.503 second blast on the Saturday night of the event.


“Thanks to Santo and the boys (Santino and Santo Junior) for extending their invitation to me for the event. I had a great time driving for them back in 2013 and to come back for the Winternationals, the largest Drag Race outside of North America is something special,” said Dixon.





Nitro Champs - One to Remember

Written by: Rob Sharp, May, 7th 2016


Sydney Dragway celebrated the 2016 Nitro Champs with a massive crowd, perfect weather and plenty of excitement on the track in the new one-day Pro Series format!


The 400 Thunder event is the first time that Pro Stock, Pro Slammer and Pro Alcohol will be using traditional eliminations format whilst Top Bike, Pro Bike and Top Fuel each used a version of a three round format to keep the crowds entertained throughout the day’s action.








Written by: Rob Sharp, May 1st 2016


The Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car teams put on a massive show for the huge crowd at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway and the event left the spectators on the edge of their seats until the very end of the night!


The ideal weather provided the perfect day for fans and racers, with quick, side-by-side passes featuring throughout the series’ unique three-round format.







McMillin warms to Willowbank nitro debut

Written by: Rob Sharp, March 16th 2016


New Zealand racer Morice McMillin has been one of the stars of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car show since his stunning debut at Sydney Dragway in 2015. The young Kiwi will again be travelling to Australia to race against the series’ best as the McMillin crew prepare to head north to Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway.


The One Bad Kiwi Trans-Am and McMillin himself, were stars of the series’ recent trip to Perth Motorplex and the team are looking to improve further, once they take to the iconic Queensland track.






Cory Mac Headed Back Down Under

Written by: Bobby Bennett, March 15th 2016


Cory McClenathan will be looking to make it three Aussie victories in a row this Easter, when he takes on the Santo’s Super 3 Extreme Drag Race Event, presented by Uplift Cranes and Titan Cranes (March 25 - 26).


The last time that ‘Cory Mac’ raced at Willowbank Raceway, he took victory at the largest championship drag racing event held outside of his native United States – the Winternationals. Five months later, he would return and take victory at Sydney Dragway’s Nationals, the first event of the new 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series. 






Spinozzi Racing  and Speedmaster Announce Exciting New Partnership

Written by: Ryan Corfield, March 11th 2016


Spinozzi Racing is delighted to welcome Speedmaster as the Primary Sponsor of the Spinozzi team's Chevrolet Prostock Camaro.


“The Spinozzi Racing team is proud to be associated with the Speedmaster brand. Not only are they a global leader in the development and supply of after market performance parts, but their company culture which is focused on quality and attention to detail, is closely aligned to the values that the Spinozzi team race by" said Spinozzi Racing founder, Emilio Spinozzi.







Hambridge is hands-on for Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars in 2016

Written by: Ryan Corfield and Rob Sharp, November 27 2015


With a reputation as one of the country’s best drag racing tuners, Aaron Hambridge is a name that needs no introduction when it comes to nitro-powered racecars but this time, Hambridge is taking his talent to funny cars.


The Australian championship-winning Top Fuel tuner will be joining the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series, serving as a crew-chief to some of the series’ best drivers, as well as providing assistance to series owner and Australian drag racing legend – Graeme Cowin.



Leahy family heading to Sydney for Aeroflow Triple Challenge – Looking for strong finish

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 26 2015


Queensland racer, Greg Leahy, will be in attendance along with the rest of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car brigade for the 2015 season finale on December 12 for the Aeroflow Triple Challenge event.


Leahy, driver of the Star Wars themed ‘Stromtrooper’, returns to the site of his career best elapsed time of 5.75 seconds, which was ran at the same event in 2014 event, driving the Harbour City Hustler.


One bad Kiwi makes good on debut

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 26 2015


New Zealand’s Morice McMillin has driven some fast cars during his drag racing career but last Sunday the affable Kiwi had his first taste of nitro whilst completing licencing passes at Sydney Dragway and for him and his crew, the Aeroflow Triple Challenge can’t come soon enough.


When quizzed about how the ‘One Bad Kiwi’ nitro funny car compared with other cars he had raced, McMillin beamed with excitement.


“Honestly, it’s like nothing I can compare at all, their's just no comparison.



Challenging weekend for Spinozzi Racing at East Coast Nationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 17 2015


The 2015/2016 Pro Stock championship season commenced last weekend (November 7th and 8th) at the East Coast Nationals at Sydney Dragway for Spinozzi Racing.


Spinozzi Racing was looking for a better start to the season than what they had experienced. Not only did qualifying experience delays due to the wet weather, the team were also forced to change a motor after the completion of the first session of qualifying. The team finished qualifying in the fifth position (7.001/193.79).


McClenathan emerges victorious for Rapisarda Autosport International’s four car entry at East Coast Nationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 12 2015


Last weekend, November 7th and 8th, NHRA star Cory McClenathan defeated Darren Morgan on a holeshot to win the 2015 East Coast Nationals. Rapisarda Autosport International (RAI) also made history as they became the first Top Fuel team in the world to field four cars at the one event. A feat that might have been the second occurrence, should the Nitro Champs not have been rained out.


Team owner, Santo Rapisarda has come away extremely impressed with the way that the RAI team handled the challenge.


“Credit is due to the entire RAI team for the time that they have put into making the four car assault possible. The fact that there was minimal parts damage sustained across the four cars over the weekend is a testament to the team. We knew it was going to be tough, but it was much tougher than what we first though. Nonetheless, the entire team deserve a well-earned rest and can walk away from the event as the first team to successfully field four cars at one event in the world,”



Elliot looking for strong finish in 2015 Atura Track Championship

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 11 2015


This Saturday, November 14th, will mark the concluding round of the 2015 Sydney Dragway Track Championship, sponsored by Atura Blacktown.  Modified racer, Graham Elliot, driver of the GE Corp / Pro Signs dragster, will also be finishing his first full season in competition in the Modified dragster ranks.


Despite being Elliot’s first full season in Modified competition on the Sydney scene, Graham is no stranger to motor racing or a dragster cockpit. Graham has many years of racing experience in other disciplines and is a frequent driver of the Fastrack Racing Experience two-seater dragster, offering thrill rides to avid Drag Racing fans, while also introducing new people to our sport..


McClenathan, Reed, Zappia, Drew, Tremayne and White win East Coast Nats

Written by: Tim Baker, November 8 2015

Cory McClenthan, Steven Reed, John Zappia, Mark Drew, Tyronne Tremayne and Scott White have all secured wins at the East Coast Nationals in Sydney.

Visiting NHRA star Cory McClenathan scored his second Top Fuel win in a row following his Winternationals victory in June ensuring he is now unbeaten in his last three starts Down Under since the 2011 Australian Nationals.


Fowler to commence Top Sportsman Championship title defence at East Coast Nationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 6 2015

Steve Fowler, driver of the Aeroflow Performance Parts Top Sportsman Pontiac GXP made history by winning the first ever Top Sportsman championship during the 2014/2015 season. This weekend, November 7th and 8th at the East Coast Nationals at Sydney Dragway, Fowler will start to defend his championship.


Fowler will officially receive his championship accolades on Monday night at the 2014/2015 Championship banquet.

Crowley makes NHRA debut at Las Vegas

Written by: Ryan Corfield, November 4 2015

Photo Credit: Roger Richards


Native Queensland Pro Stock Bike Racer, Luke Crowley made his NHRA debut at the Toyota Nationals (October 29th – November 1st).


“I had wanted to race on the NHRA circuit for some time. After the Winternationals at Willowbank, the time was right for us to send the bike to the USA and compete in the last two races of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yellow series,” said Crowley.


Rapisarda Autosport International to engage four car Top Fuel assault at East Coast Nationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, October 25 2015

The Rapisarda Autosport International (RAI) team are going to engage in the largest single team effort ever seen in Top Fuel at the East Coast Nationals, November 7th and 8th. A feat that the team wanted to achieve earlier this year at the Nitro Champs, however, the event was cancelled due to rain.


"We have wanted to try and run the four cars at the one event for some time now, however, we lost our opportunity with the wet weather back in May," explained team owner Santo Rapisarda.


An extra ‘Bray’ joins the East Coast Nationals fray

Written by: Rob Sharp, October 20 2015

The entry list for the 2015 East Coast Nationals continues to grow and one of the biggest names in Australian Top Doorslammer will have a new teammate at November 7 and 8 event.


Team Bray Racing will again be a two-prong attack but this time father Victor will not join Ben for the event.


Spinozzi Racing ready to start 2015/2016 season at East Coast Nationals

Written by: Ryan Corfield, October 15 2015

After a five month break in racing, Spinozzi Racing is ready to make a return to competition trim at the 2015 East Coast Nationals, which will take place November 7th and 8th.


From the outside, it might appear that the team has been rather quiet for this time, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The team have been continuing on the engine development program with Rino Conte of RC Performance Engines as well as Emilio Spinozzi and Michael Marriott making a trip to the 2015 Chevrolet Performance Parts U.S. Nationals last month at Indianapolis, Indiana.

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