It's not every week that you get to interview a 3 time NHRA Top Fuel Champion.
So this was my lucky week when I got the opportunity to have a chat with Larry Dixon, who will be making a much anticipated appearance at this week's Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race at Willowbank Raceway.
Star struck much? While I'd like to say that I was very professional during our interview I did let out a girlie giggle now and then.
Brownsburg Indiana based Dixon met Santo Rapisarda initially as part of a business relationship, with Santo renting some space from Dixon for his US based Top Fuel operation. Nicknamed "Nitro Alley", Brownsburg is the home for many of the NHRA's top nitro teams.
When crew chief Lee Beard parted company with Cruz Pedregon in November 2012 he joined Rapisarda Autosport International. The next step was to find a driver.
"Lee gave me a call one day and asked me if I was interested in driving for Santo. I said yes of-course and now I find myself competing in the NHRA and half way around the world in Australia," said Dixon. "It's an amazing experience and I'm very thankful to Santo for the opportunity."
Speaking about this weekend's event, I posed the question about the level of expectations on the team and Larry to perform and did he feel the pressure?
"Pressure? I don't feel pressure, I feel very excited about this week's race. The car Lee and Santo have put together for the race is fantastic and the combination is designed for the conditions and racing format," said Dixon. "The rules and conditions are the same for each team that's entered. I feel very confident we have the right people and equipment to get the job done."
Racing on the other side of the world has its challenges. For Larry, getting accustomed to the time difference has been interesting. "Things are better now but I was sleeping when I shouldn't and wide awake when I should have been in bed."
"I still have my watch set on Indiana time so my head can keep track of what time my body thinks it is," laughed Dixon. "I have a really profound respect for the Formula 1 drivers who do this week in and week out."
While the Santo's Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race is the focus of this visit, Larry and his family are making the most of the trip. "After the race we head back to Sydney for a few days and we're looking forward to seeing some of the sights before heading back to the US on Tuesday."
But for the next few days Larry's full attention will be on winning the Louie Rapisarda Top Fuel Trophy and "keeping it at home with Santo and his family". Santo's son Louie passed away in a racing accident in 1990 and this week's event honours Louie's memory.
"This race is all about Louie and Santo. I feel very privileged and thankful to be part of the Rapisarda Autosport International team and I'm super excited about the opportunity to race here in Australia," said Dixon.
Racing kicks off this Friday at 4pm with the sportsman categories and Top Fuel hits the track at approximately 5pm for their first qualifier. For more information visit Willowbank Raceway.