“The Main Event”   27th-30th May, 2011 — Santa Pod Raceway, England.

Round #1 of Europe’s 2011 FIA Championship Drag Racing Series was at England’s Santa Pod Raceway.  The highly anticipated season-opener featured spectacular qualifying action but eliminations were unconclusive due to an uncooperative Mother Nature….

Posted by:  Roger Gorringe

The longest drought for over one hundred years in England finally came to an end one day before the first round of the 2011 European Drag Racing Championships began, as on the Thursday test day the heavens opened with heavy showers. There followed three days of qualifying for the huge entry of Sportsman and Pro racers with the latter managing four complete rounds all against a cold and strong down-track wind and ever threatening skies.

The Monday Bank Holiday that was to be the eliminations day suffered persistent light rain that started just as the first rounds were waiting to commence and ultimately forced cancellation. However, the large crowd over the long weekend was treated to some excellent international qualifying.

Top Fuel — saw nine fuelers on the property.  It would have included the Danish father and son team of Stig and Kenni Neergaard in two cars but a sudden illness had them unfortunately withdraw.

Iowa's Tommy Johnson Jr. was entered in Top Fuel at Santa Pod

 Of great interest was the fellow Danish team of the Karsten and Per Andersen who enticed former US Top Fuel and Funny Car icon, Tommy Johnson Jr. over to drive their Sunoco/Veidec car.  Despite having a catalogue of travel problems he managed to almost dominate the premier class from the third session.

Finland’s Risto Poutiainen managed an off the trailer 4.839/249 to open the proceedings then Switzerland’s Urs Erbacher announced his intentions in round two with a 4.720/284, these clocking were over the full quarter-mile as this is generally the standard raced all over Europe. Round three had Johnson Jr. make his mark with a great 4.660/317.06 which ended up the new European speed record. Only four teams made the four second mark with Finland’s Anita Mäkelä being the fourth on a 4.966/247. Sitting on the bubble was Holland’s Lex Joon with a 6.079/150 and a DNQ for former multi champion Andy Carter with the Brit sitting in a new team and set-up.

Top Methanol Dragster — was a full 8-car eliminator that was led from the first round by Maltese resident and occasional visitor Monty Bugeja with an out of the box 5.500/263.52 clocking followed by Germany’s Dennis Habermann beating his older brother, well, at least for the moment. In at third was England’s Derek Flynn on a 5.543/263.

Timo Habermann paced the Top Methanol Dragster program

There was a change in round two as older brother and 2010 Champion Timo Habermann took charge and never looked back, a 5.421/258.18 topped the pile for the rest of qualifying from the Uni Fit car. Final round had Flynn up in second spot with a 5.444/260 in his A/Fuel machine and Norway’s Fred Hanssen sat in third with a 5.446/262. On the bump sat Norwegian Paul Ingar Udtian with a non tardy 5.538/253 showing how tight a field it was.

Top Methanol Funny Car — was another 8-car field though less the defending Champion, Denmark’s Dan Larsen who is only running a limited year. It was Switzerland’s Dezsoe Krivan that opened up with a 6.195/225.92 staying ahead of Brit, Stephanie Milam in at two with a 6.290/224 and Norway’s Arvid Grødem on a 6.761/201 pass.

Sweden's Ulf Leanders set low ET and top speed in TMFC

It all changed in round two with former champ Ulf Leanders from Sweden taking charge, he had run a few times in the US  over the past year but not in Europe, the IronCad backed Charger impressed with a 5.637/249.19 ticket well ahead of now number two Grødem at 5.854/242 and Finland’s Jarmo Kuutniemi on a 5.898/239. Just about an all change round in round three with Belgium’s Danny Bellio hopping up to number two with a 5.831/242 putting Grødem down a peg. Round four changed nothing at the top but left German, Jürgen Nagel on the bump with an off par 6.346/124.

 Pro Modified —  drew a superb field with 22-doorslammers vying for position.  Qualifying was really tough and changed virtually each round as teams dialed-in to conditions. Round one was led by new-commer, Sweden’s Per Svedberg on a 6.160/229 first FIA outing for his Demon, it was followed by England’s Andy Robinson on a 6.210/228 pass an then 2010 Champion Johan Lindberg with a 6.262/227.

Micke Gullqvist lead the way in Pro Mod with a 6.085 secs effort

Switzerland’s Bruno Bader jumped up to top with a round two 6.116/226 and also leaping into position was Micke Gullqvist in the former Melanie Troxel R2B2 Camaro with a 6.146/232 putting Robinson down a place. Bader led qualifier three with the same numbers but Lindberg grabbed second spot putting Gullqvist into third spot, Robinson down to fourth and Svedberg to number five.

In the final qualifier Gullqvist showed who was boss with a 6.085/234.83 clocking with Bader and Lindberg in second and third respectively. On the bubble was Switzerland’s Marcus Hilt in his ‘Vette with a 7.302/182 and many others packing their trailers as DNQs.


The PM class produced the event’s only major incident – when Dutch Pro Mod racer Henri Joosten  suffered a nitrous explosion that then turned into an inferno almost burning the car to the ground just past the start line.

Dutchman Henri-Joosten had this horrific fire which destroyed his machine

Pro Stock —   featured nine cars doing their upmost to enter the 8-car eliminator and round one had former champ, Jimmy Ålund from Sweden back in top spot with 6.827/202.56 just ahead of fellow Swede, Tommy Leindahl on a 6.879/198 then came Finland’s Sampsa Palos on a 6.879/197 showing how competitive this class is. Round two had 2010 Champion Michael Malmgren take the reigns with a 6.748/204.40 putting Ålund into second spot with a 6.750 at top speed of the event 205.18mph then Palos with his round one figures. Round three had a reversal of top spot as Malmgren went down to second as Ålund in his Klintberg & Way Pontiac GTO upped his pace with a 6.746/204.40 and Palos still in third. There were no top spot changes by the final qualifier but ending up on the bump was Sweden’s Michael Callin on a 6.910/200.77 and a sad DNQ was Britain’s only modern day Pro Stock driver Conrad Stanley in a non disgraceful 6.916/197.

Jimmy Alund was the top qualifyer in Pro Stock with his GTO

 Text & Photos by : Roger Gorringe  (Copyright: May 2011)