Following Scott Kalitta’s fatal accident in June 2008, drag racing in the U.S. adopted 1,000-foot drag racing in the nitro categories. Four years later some Australian Top Fuel teams would like to see the same adjustment to their series.
The Australian Drag Racing Association recently staged its first official 1,000-foot drag race during April in Adelaide and the event produced mixed reactions from those who participated.
Santa Rapisarda, a multi-car Top Fuel team owner in Australia, also campaigns a dragster in the United States where 1,000-foot racing is the standard. If he has his druthers, Australian nitro racing will adopt the shorter distance for next season. This weekend’s FUCHS ANDRA Winternationals is the final event of the 2011 – 2012 season.
“I’m in favor of it for sure,” Rapisarda said. “I think it will make it easier on the racers here. Most of the time, you are damaging your parts in the last 320 feet. This is something that would work just as well for the big teams as those on a lower budget.
“I really think 1,000-foot is the way to go. Top Fuel is really getting too fast for quarter-mile here.”
Darren Morgan, the defending ANDRA Top Fuel series champion, went down in drag racing history as the first to win an official 1,000-foot Top Fuel meeting as he defeated Phil Lamattina. The finalists were split on their opinion of a universal switch to 1,000 feet.
“I really don’t know why we would do it,” Morgan said. “I’m happy to run both of them. We ran Calder Park to 1,000 because it’s not safe to run to the quarter. Adelaide’s the same. Let’s do it. If it’s safe to run only to 660, then let’s do that. Why not mix it up and have a variety?”
And for Morgan, he’s not buying into the theory of saving money on parts.
“I know the Americans are hurting more parts at 1,000 feet than they did in running the quarter,” Morgan pointed out. “Why would we go to a 1,000 feet? We’re still going to stand on it, not leave it. There are some who think it is easier on parts because they are shutting off this tune-up earlier. Once we start going faster, they are going to want to go faster.
“Morgan Lucas went 291 to half track recently. Don’t you think we want to do the same stuff? I guess I’ll go with whatever is decided on and if it is 1,000, we’ll get an American tune-up and get after it.”
Lamattina walked away from the experience with a new found appreciation of 1,000 foot drag racing.
“I’ve always considered myself a drag racing purist and before that weekend, I always saw it as everyone’s passion,” Lamattina said. “We ran the meeting in Adelaide and I have to say, I like it. It just seemed easier on the parts and the racing was close. For the fans, it’s exciting and for the owners, for us, it was one of our more affordable events.
“This kind of racing puts the pressure back on the driver not to let the team down. It can be exciting all the way around.”
Andrew Cowin has raced both distances and admits he’s okay with racing a shorter track but for him, it has to be across the board at every facility.
“I know we are doing this for a good cause,” said Cowin. “Not all tracks we race on are the same when it comes to braking distance. Whatever we do, 1000 or 1320, it has to be one of the other to work for me.”
Rapisarda said he plans to put momentum into the movement to run 1000-foot and would like to organize his fellow fuel teams in working towards the same goal.
“I have approached some of the teams and we do have meetings coming up, especially in Sydney and maybe Willowbank or any other track that will go for it.” said Rapisarda. “I plan to push as hard as I can for it.”
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