Top Fuel and Top Alcohol both add two more championship rounds to their tally when the Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race hits Willowbank Raceway in March 29 and 30.
For Top Fuel it marks rounds six and seven of the championship and is the second time they have run the 'double header' championship format, following its successful debut at Perth Motorplex in February.
Given the event is a new one, it does not have a previous winner, however last time the Top Fuel dragsters were out at Willowbank Raceway Allan Dobson took the win, driving for the Rapisarda Autosport International team, over Andrew Cowin.
Dobson ran the fourth quickest time of the season, a 4.649 en route to the Winternationals win.
The quick pass showed the Rapisarda team knew Willowbank Raceway well. With three times world champion Larry Dixon coming into the driver's seat for this event and highly decorated crew chief Lee Beard to provide the tune up, they will be tough to beat.
The Rapisarda Autosport International team is coming from qualifying for three straight NHRA events in the USA, where they currently sit 11th in the standings of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Chief rival to Dixon's chances is likely to be ANDRA points leader Phil Lamattina, driving the Fuchs dragster. Lamattina has now made five consecutive finals and won the last two rounds of the championship. He also holds the quickest time recorded so far this season, a 4.662 at round four of the championship in Perth.
Top Fuel drivers will also be competing for the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy, awarded to the team earning the most points across the event. The trophy is in memory of Louie Rapisarda, the son of Top Fuel team owner Santo Rapisarda, who passed away in a racing accident in 1990.
In Top Alcohol, Gary Phillips comes into the event with the championship lead, though fellow Queenslanders Steve Reed and John Cannuli are hot on his heels.
The last time Top Alcohol was at the Ipswich motorsport venue, Reed's Allstar Batteries/Royal Wolf Funny Car won the event against Jamie Noonan, who was unable to make it to the final after suffering supercharger damage in the semi finals.
Reed has been on a run of form lately, his last five race appearances seeing him having made it to the finals three times and the semi finals twice.
Winner of the last championship round, held in Adelaide, was Wayne Newby, however the JBS Tools Funny Car is still relatively new and he is searching for form on the quarter mile.
The Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race utilises the three round format to decide a winner on each day. This is made up of a single compulsory qualifying session, an elimination round and then finals. Finalists are made up of the quickest winners from the elimination round. The two quickest winners go into the final, with the third and fourth quickest running off in a consolation final.
As a double championship round, 60% of standard points are allocating, excepting qualifying points which are allocated at 100%.
Qualifying begins at 5pm on each day, with the elimination round at 7pm and the finals at 9pm.
- Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) - "For me and my crew chief Lee Beard it will be a steep learning curve as we look to adapt what we know from NHRA and our usual set-up to the Australian race conditions, but we will certainly be doing our best for the Rapisarda family and for the memory of Louie Rapisarda."
- Phil Lamattina (Top Fuel) – "It'll be great to have Larry Dixon in the field, but for us he's just another name we have to beat and that's exactly what we will be trying to do. The competition is a great opportunity for the Australian teams to step up to the plate and race against the very best there is."
- Damien Harris (Top Fuel) - "I'm now really hanging out to get to Willowbank for the Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race, especially with the news that three times world champion Larry Dixon is going to be my team mate for the event. It will be a fantastic experience."
- Steve Read (Top Fuel) – "Dixon and Beard are in my opinion up there with the best in the world for driving and tuning respectively, so it is definitely going to be interesting to pit ourselves up against them during this event. They will have an advantage in terms of the length of their experience and the amount of events they do, but we will have the home track advantage as well as familiarity with the tricky Australian weather conditions, so it will make for some great matches I think."
- Gary Phillips (Top Alcohol) – "We'll have our work cut out for us at the Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme event for sure. The pressure will be on with limited qualifying opportunities, so you have to be on it right off the trailer, but we've been good at that this season so hopefully it will pay into our hands."
- Steve Reed (Top Alcohol) – "I'd normally be saying that we will be trying to "5.60" the field to death, but we need to figure out how to go fast. To do that we have to try some things but we don't know whether that will mean we lose our consistency. We can always go back to our known set up but it is stab in the dark we need to take."
- Wayne Newby (Top Alcohol) – "Every one of the Top Alcohol and Top Fuel racers are going to have to throw absolutely everything at it each and every time we head out. Each day, you have two passes to make it count and secure your place in either the Final or the Preliminary Final – there is no space for taking it easy or for mistakes - you will be forced to drive your car to its potential every time you venture out onto the Willowbank quarter-mile. That guarantees white-knuckle action for the spectators and points the focus well and truly onto going fast – being fast and getting to the finish line first is the only way you are going to win this event, all other strategic patterns go out the window with this format."