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RAI has scored a major coup signing NHRA star Larry Dixon to race alongside local hero Wayne Newby in the opening round of the ATFC at Sydney Dragway January 21-22.

Three-time NHRA champion Dixon was drafted into the team after it looked likely to be cut to a single entry when long-time driver Damien Harris became unavailable due to Western Australia border restrictions.

Dixon will partner with championship-winning duo Wayne Newby and Santino Rapisarda combo. They race for the first time since winning the Santo’s Summer Thunder meeting in January 2020.

A regular visitor Down Under, Dixon last raced in Australia at the 2016 Winternationals.

“I was resigned to running a single car until Larry was granted a visa at the last minute to come to Australia and race,” explained team owner Santo Rapisarda. “We only found out on Monday. The timeline is tight. Larry leaves Indy on Tuesday night and arrives in Australia on Thursday morning. Then on Friday, he hits the track for two test and tune runs.”

For Harris, it will be the first time he has missed a meeting with RAI in a decade. While he can travel to Sydney for the event, returning home is problematic due to the W.A. state border remaining closed until February 4.

“Getting stuck in Sydney is not an option, because Damien has business commitments and a young family back home in Perth,” said Rapisarda.

“To not have Damien racing with our family is disappointing. He’s been an essential member of our team over the past decade. Santo Jnr, who tunes the car, and his crew are disappointed not to be working with Damien, but they are excited to be given the opportunity to return to racing with Larry.”

“Wayne and my boy Santino are ready to go racing. They have been working together for a long time and, hopefully, after they do a couple of runs to blow out the cobwebs, they can pick up where they left off in 2020.”

“My family is excited to be returning to racing and looking forward to reconnecting with the fans who will get their first taste of nitro since May last year.”

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