Dixon & Beard Join New Top Fuel Team
Former NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon will return to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2013, partnering with Rapisarda Autosport Int’l.
Joining Dixon at Rapisarda will be three-time NHRA world champion crew chief and team manager Lee Beard, who will serve as the Director of Operations for Rapisarda Autosport Int’l.
In addition to a limited schedule in the NHRA Top Fuel ranks, the team will also compete in the ANDRA Australia Drag Racing Series.
“We are extremely pleased to have the talents of Larry Dixon and Lee Beard joining Rapisarda Autosport International for 2013,” said Santo Rapisarda, team owner. “Both Larry and Lee have some of the greatest resumes in NHRA drag racing history. Although they have never teamed up together before, we believe their leadership and competitiveness will lead us to victory lane this year. I’m extremely excited to have this pair as part of our organization.”
Dixon is a three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion, winning the championship in 2002, 2003 and 2010. Dixon has been the No. 1 qualifier in NHRA national competition 51 times and has reached 108 final rounds. Dixon competed in three events in 2012.
“This opportunity to join the Rapisarda team and work with Lee for the first time is very exciting for me,” said Dixon, the California native now residing in Avon, Ind. “Last year, I worked with ESPN and the NHRA announcing team as an analyst at the national events and it gave me a great insight of the sport from outside the pit area. I think, like Lee, I can bring the Rapisarda organization solid background and race experience that can give the team strong performances. I want to thank Santo and his family for this opportunity.”
Beard, 59, has led drivers to 65 No. 1 qualifying positions in Top Fuel and Funny Car and 54 wins, his latest the 2012 Finals at Pomona. In addition, Indianapolis racing executive is one of two men (Dale Armstrong the other) in NHRA history to have had their drivers and cars join the exclusive 4-second and 300-MPH clubs in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, capture a series championship and be named Crew Chief of the Year and Person of the Year by Car Craft magazine.
“I see a lot of potential with the Rapisarda Autosport Int’l team,” said Beard. “I’m anxious to work with Larry after all of our years as competitors. He is one of the greatest Top Fuel drivers ever. My job as Director of Operations is to oversee the team and teach my skills and craft to Santo’s two sons, Santo Jr. and Santino. I see them as the future of our sport.