NitrOlympX Report from Hockenheim Germany!

Round four of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship took place the home of the German F1 Grand Prix, Hockenheimring Germany (August 12-14th).  The event included some very weird developments, including a suspension to Top Fuel points leader, U.S.-based racer Tommy Johnson Jr, some surface  destruction by an exhibition vehicle and hard core curfew consequences…..

With competitors and fans alike dodging the weekends showers that unfortunately along with the local curfew put an end to eliminations with the final rounds of the professional categories and several rounds of Sportsman left un-run. Many fans prefer to attend the Saturday night show that had among its features a huge twin jet engined Peterbilt truck that unfortunately burnt the track in the right lane in a couple of places and despite plenty of sledding and gluing it became the unlucky lane and the undoing for several racers.

Top Fuel:

A surprise announcement just prior to the event put the class into turmoil, US racer and point leader Tommy Johnson Jr. in the Karsten & Per Andersen Sunoco/Landmeco machine had had his license suspended due to a prescribed medication that is legal on the NHRA circuit but is a banned substance in the FIA classes! The ruling is being appealed in late August but may affect the team’s appearance at the European Finals in September – truly a very sorry state of affairs and a great blow to this all out professional team. Johnson’s seat was temporarily filled by Norwegian racer Thomas Nataas who has raced in both Top Fuel and Funny Car over the last decade and it was he who led the field with a top qualifier of 4.839/305 over the full quarter-mile distance. Stig Neergaard from Denmark made number two with a fine 4.881/266 that was just ahead of Finnish lady Anita Mäkelä’s 4.926/293 leaving everyone else running in the fives with England’s Andy Carter on the bubble with a 5.431/212 clocking.

Norway's Thomas Nataas filled in for Tommy Johnson Jr., after Johnson received a shocking event suspension

Round one opened with number five qualifier, Finland’s Risto Poutiainen coming off the power just after the Tree as a red light was in evidence in his lane allowing fellow countryman Timo Lehtimäki an easy 6.454/179 win. Anita Mäkelä and Sweden’s Micke Kågered both left with identical reaction times however, the lady smoked the slicks early leaving a possibly lucky Kågered who tossed a blower belt under his opponent’s car at half track, his 8.495/90 beating the 13.379/81. Urs Erbacher probably paid the price of running in the burnt lane as he blazed the tyres at 330 feet slowing him to a 6.751/132 as Denmark’s Stig Neergaard shot past recording a flawless 4.973/257 win. Last pairing had England’s Andy Carter in the bad lane and he copied Erbacher going up in smoke in the same place, a 9.390/85 being no match for the Andersen tuned Thomas Nataas juggernaut when a 4.929/299 lit up the lane lights.

Micke Kagered was a scheduled TF finalist

Timo Lehtimäki left a great light on the tree but was chased down by the inexorable power of Thomas Nataas who took the win with a 4.854/304 to the 5.465/260. The semi final other pairing was between Stig Neergaard and Micke Kågered with the latter getting a slight advantage but Neergaard suddenly slowed to a 6.961/109 as Kågered notched up the win with a 5.157/225.

The dreaded local curfew which had been extended by an hour after rain unfortunately put paid to the final that would have pitted Thomas Nataas in the Sunoco/Landmeco car facing Micke Kågered in his Bahco/Bilsport/MPM Oil backed machine.

Top Methanol Dragster:

England’s Dave Wilson led the way in the Top Methanol Dragster league, a 5.373/263.26 just ahead of Germany’s Timo Habermann on a 5.393/260. England’s Derek Flynn sat on the bump spot with a 5.822/255 in the eight car field.

Dave Wilson had a lucky break in the opening round as he went into instant tyre smoke and pedalled as fellow countryman Derek Flynn shook hard in the bad lane deploying the chute at half track, a 6.677/192 got the nod to the losing 12.322/41. Germany’s Peter Schöfer who sat in fourth place took on fifth place man, Norway’s Paul Ingar Udtian and despite a holeshot along with a 5.561/257 by Udtian it was beaten by a 5.414/259. Finland’s Esko Raisvuo managed a misfiring 6.581/211 but only saw the rear of Timo Habermann’s dragster who recorded a 5.443/258 win. Last pair down the track was almost a foregone conclusion in favour of Norway’s Fred Hanssen who certainly had the edge on Germany’s Dennis Habermann but Hanssen was possibly thrown by deep staging as Habermann cut a great light to the almost somnolent one from the Norwegian and it was Habermann that notched up the win with a 5.533/259 to the chasing but losing 5.525/260.

England's Dave Wilson qualified #1 in TMD and advanced to the final round

Round two had Wilson get another touch of luck as he rattled the slicks, recovered and ran the winning 5.384/265 as Peter Schöfer who seemed to be taking it lost with a 5.426/260. The next pairing was a family affair as brothers Timo and Dennis Habermann faced off in their Uni-Fit blown dragsters and it was Timo that recorded the win with a big holeshot 5.394/261 as Dennis snoozed and failed to catch up with a losing 5.480/260.

The un-run final would have seen the Uni-Fit dragster of the 2010 Champion Timo Habermann face Dave Wilson in the Silverline Tools A/Fueller.

Top Methanol Funny Car:

This class was led by Sweden’s Ulf Leanders on a 5.684/254 pass almost two tenths ahead of nearest rival Belgium’s Danny Bellio on a 5.860/241. It was not a full eight car field but in seventh place sat German Jürgen Nagel on a 6.279/208 pass.

Belgium's Danny Bellio runs his Dodge Charger in TMFC

A bye run for Ulf Leanders kicked off round one with a tyre chattering 9.507/89 win. Norway’s Arvid Grødem came up against England’s Rob Turner who had not turned a wheel since the Main Event and the car complained at the burnt area by hazing the slicks before getting a little crossed up and slowing to an 11.526/68 as Grødem zoomed to a 6.109/182 win. It was a Belgium versus Germany bout that came next with Danny Bellio having no problem dispatching Jürgen Nagel with a 5.916/246 to a 6.434/222. The last pair were disqualified, Switzerland’s Dezsoe Krivan on a red light and Finland’s Jarmo Kuutniemi who crossed lanes after suffering tyre shake.

The semi finals saw a huge upset as the clash between Ulf Leanders, heavily the favourite and Arvid Grødem, Leanders led off the line but hit tyre shake then got crossed up before pedalling, all to no avail as Grødem recorded a stout 5.704/249 win. Danny Bellio had the rounds bye run and produced a 5.932/243 to take the light.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the final un-run pairing names, Danny Bellio in his Tools Dodge Charger who was to face Arvid Grødem’s Sunoco backed Mustang.

Pro Modified:

It produced some wonderful racing in this huge and highly popular class, a sixteen car field was headed by Sweden’s Micke Gullqvist with a 6.007/242 just ahead of fellow Swede Johan Lindberg on a 6.077/237, the remainder were stretched out in the 6.1s to 6.5s with German Marco Maurischat sitting on the bump with a 6.557/223.

Sweden's Micke Gullqvist was the quickest car again in Pro Mod

Round one had some controversy when Sweden’s Mats Eriksson firstly hit a centre timing block that so worried Finland’s Adam Flamholc that he made a violent left turn crossing both lanes narrowly missing the wall – both were disqualified. Other big names to go out were Roger Johansson to Bruno Bader, Linda Thun Tønseth to Urban Johansson, Robert Joosten to Marc Meihuizen, Rolf Ammann to Johan Lindberg, Jan Gunnarsson to Andy Robinson, Norbert Kuno to Tami Brander and Marco Maurischat falling to Micke Gullqvist.

Bruno Bader's Corvette was also scheduled in the PM final

Round two came on Sunday morning starting with a tyre hazing in the bad lane by Finn, Tami Brander who then got crossed up slowing to a 14.546/65 as Micke Gullqvist powered to a 6.036/240 win. England’s Andy Robinson had a lucky break as on his bye run he smoked the tyres, shook and wheelied but took the light with a 9.142/140. Johan Lindberg tried in vain to catch a holeshot from Marc Meihuizen going all over his lane losing with a 7.814/124 as Meihuizen notched up the win with a 6.245/229. A red light stopped Urban Johansson for advancing as Bruno Bader took a bit of a wild but winning 8.999/97 ride.

Andy Robinson’s luck ran out in the semis as he clicked on the red light in a desperate attempt to get a lead on Micke Gullqvist’s hard charging Camaro but Gullqvist’s 6.046/240 took the win. Marc Meihuizen slept on the line as Bruno Bader shot off; the 6.175/233 was not good enough though as Bader’s holeshot 6.211/229 put him in the final.

Bruno Bader’s Gotham City ‘Vette would have had to hope that Micke Gullqvist’s Stavdal/Persåkers Speed Shop Camaro would stutter or foul out for the undecided final.

Pro Stock:

Pro Stock was a great battle that was led by usual front man Jimmy Ålund with a 6.734/206 with four others in the 6.7s following, Thomas Lindström 6.744/205, Micke Callin 6.758/205, Richard Sundblom 6.767/205 and Michael Malmgren on a 6.769/205. On the bubble was Finland’s Sampsa Palos on a 6.857/203.

Round one started with Finland’s Richard Sundblom going out in a close race to Michael Malmgren, 6.827/205 win to the 6.836/203 lose. Jonas Dantanus recorded a 7.023/200 but was reeled in and passed by Thomas Lindström’s 6.835/203 win. Jan Palmqvist could not start his machine this allowed Sweden’s Micke Callin the win with a 6.772/204. Sampsa Palos was the first to feel the power of Jimmy Ålund’s machine a 6.909/203 was not good enough as the 6.752/205 took the win.

Micke Callin advanced to the Pro Stock final round before it has hit by curfew.

 Arch rivals Jimmy Ålund and Michael Malmgren faced off in the semi final but Malmgren slowed with problems at one hundred feet out as Ålund took the light on a 6.744/205. It all went wrong for Thomas Lindström in this round as he got a little impatient and red lit away a 6.883/203 giving the win to Micke Callin’s 7.512/142.

The final should have featured Micke Callin in his Sjölonds Transport AB backed Pontiac GTO and the Klintberg & Way GTO of Jimmy Ålund.

Words and photos Copyright Roger Gorringe — August 2011.