Top Fuel’s Larry Dixon Jets 9,000-Plus Miles, Ends Up Spectator at Sydney

larry dixon right with rai team owner santo rapisarda are all smiles, despite dixon's faulty dragster photo by john doig
Larry Dixon Jets 9,000 Miles, Fails to Start RaceCourtesy Larry Dixon
  • Larry Dixon recently made a 51-hour round trip to race, only to become a spectator.

  • The 2021 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee never made it out of the pits.

  • Electrical problems short-circuited all three of his scheduled runs.

Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon traveled more than 9,000 miles from his home at Indianapolis to Australia’s Sydney Dragway–a 51-hour round trip—this past week to race a Top Fuel dragster for Rapisarda Autosport International (RAI) and team owner Santo Rapisarda, only to end up being a spectator at the Australia Day Nationals.

The 2021 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee never made it out of the pits, as electrical problems short-circuited all three of his scheduled runs.

larry dixon australia
Larry Dixon’s Australian adventure didn’t exactly go as planned.Courtesy Larry Dixon

What was scheduled to be a single race morphed into a doubleheader, and still Dixon never got to the starting line. Race organizers decided to include the rounds of Top Fuel and Top Alcohol from the December event at Sydney Dragway that was canceled because of rain. So no one was allowed any qualifying laps for a grueling six rounds of racing in two days, with the track temperature on the first day hitting 135 degrees Fahrenheit. And in the end, this meet was cut short by persistent drizzle on Day 2.


“I don't know anyone who has traveled further than me to come and watch this race," Dixon said. “These things happen. You can't fight Mother Nature whether you’re in the States or here in Australia. For whatever reason, I was not to get in the car this weekend, and I won't argue with whoever pulls those strings."

His crew chief, Rob Cavagnino, said, "We started the car on Friday. It sounded good, but there was no RPM on the dash and there were other problems we were chasing. The data from the computer also seemed to be corrupted. We ended up changing parts two, three times, or more. We worked till 2 or 3 a.m. until we finally found the answer. It turned out to be the fiber optics, cables and pickups, even though we had replaced them many times during the day."

Dixon’s teammate Wayne Newby scored his first victory in four years, beating his longtime RAI colleague Damien Harris in the Day 1 final round. Three-time series champ Newby still is undergoing rehabilitation from a December knee replacement.

Veteran NHRA tuner Jim Oberhofer, Clay Millican’s crew chief in the Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, was helping Aussie veteran Phil Read chase his first victory since last March.

Dixon did have a chance to entertain the small crowd during the second day. He tried to do donuts in the Rapisarda golf cart in front of the main grandstand during the rain. One longtime observer said, “The general consensus is that Larry should still concentrate on straight-line racing.”