Today, July 22 marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic passing of Louie Rapisarda to a Top Fuel Drag Racing incident and everyone at Sydney Dragway would like to pass on their deepest wishes and thoughts to the Rapisarda family at this difficult time.
"The loss of Louie Rapisarda was a tragedy that still affects us all to this day," remarked Sydney Dragway Executive and Top Fuel Champion Jim Read. "My family was and still is close with the Rapisarda family and we share in their pain and sympathies of course."
For Jim Read Racing crew chief Bruce Read, this day also fills him with vivid memories and melancholy.
"For Louie it was Top Fuel or nothing. He lived and loved Nitro. About 6 months before he died, I came over and helped Santo, Louie and Sam Fenech, just to give them a bit of a hand," recalled Bruce Read.
The happenings of July 22, 1990 at Willowbank Raceway in Queensland is crystal clear in his mind.
"It was the last run of the day, and I remember tapping Louie on the back of the head to be patient. He was that eager to get back out there. He was so passionate about the sport."
Then on that last fateful run for Louie Rapisarda, oil got under the tyres of the Top Fuel car and tragedy struck.
"I ran down there to find him and it was from there we knew the tragedy that unfolded. It was such a tragic day. Louie had only been married for 8 weeks. Just 4 weeks earlier, my dad had that horrific crash at Willowbank and yet he survived in what appeared to be a far more severe crash. It still stuns me and leaves me querying my mind on how it eventuated to this day."
"Whenever I smell fire suit or helmet to this day, I think of Louie. I don't visit family burial sites, the only one I do visit is his. The day is still clear like it was yesterday. "
"We have had our ups and downs Santo and I but in reality Santo Rapisarda is the one man I trust and admire most in Top Fuel - even now. "
The Rapisarda tradition continues strongly to this day with his young boys Santo and Santino hands on with two Championship contending Top Fuel cars in the ANDRA Pro Series.
During the coverage of Top Fuel action at the Summernationals event at Sydney Dragway, the ONE HD television team constructed a tribute to Louie Rapisarda that received rave reviews.
Our thoughts and deepest wishes are with the entire Rapisarda family.