Preview European Finals september 8-11th



The event is the concluding race in the 2011 European drag racing championships. It is round #5 for the FIA car teams and round #7 for the UEM Drag Bike teams. In addition a large number of sportsman teams are on site to compete. Sportsman qualifications starts thursday sept 8th, FIA and UEM qualifications are on friday and saturday and the grand finale, elimination day is on sunday sept 11th.

Expect the teams to give all they have and be at top performance level. We have been spoiled with records this season already but would not be suprised if we get to see a few additional ET records, why not in Top Methanol Dragster (current record is 5.298 sec. Dave Wilson), Pro Mod (5.967 sec Adam Flamholc) and Pro Stock Bike  (7.078 Dave Beck)


- Online report from the event published by at incl.instant live reports of results. Photos and interviews posted a few times per day.

Speedgroup publish the  European Finals Review in our next newsletter, edition #15.

Nitro FM 96.2 radio cover the European Finals and bring the listeners interesting interviews and updates as well as music. Stay tuned!

The event is filmed by the assigned TV-production company. It will result in two x 50 min shows featuring the championship classes on track and including interviews and footage from the pits. The production is  distributed to assigned TV-channels as well as published online at the Speedgroup website as a web-TV show after editing

The service center of championship administrator Speedgroup  is centrally located in the pit area. Look for the Speedgroup flags. We provide the following services on site:

- Contingency Program handling

- Information about drag racing and also in event- and championship matters to spectators and media

- Sign up for the online Speedgroup  News letters

- Speedgroup Drivers & Riders Club sign-up for NDRS sportsman teams

- Sales assistance for team merchandise 

- Support to teams and the organizers in misc. event- and championship related matters  

FACTS ABOUT Santa Pod Raceway can be found at



Timo Lehtimäki Finland is 2nd in the championship. He has a chance to become the 2011 Top Fuel Dragster Champion.

FIA Top Fuel Dragster:
10 teams entered for an 8 car elimination ladder. Competition distance: 1/4 mile (402.33 meters)

Notes:  Lex Joon has recently withdrawn his entry and championship leader Tommy Johnson Jr is not on the entry list with less than a week to the start of qualifications. With a forthcoming hearing with the FIA in a medication matter, Johnson Jr:s  license is on hold. The chances that Johnson Jr will be able to take part in the European Finals as a late entry diminshes with every day now. Kenni Neergaard does his first championship event after having finished his license at the recent NitrOlympx, father Stig is on the entry list in addition to the rest of the "regulars" in the class. The question is who will take the champion title from Urs Erbacher.   

In championship lead Tommy Johnson Jr (247 points) followed by Timo Lehtimäki 178 and Anita Mäkelä 161. Confusing enough there is a risk Johnson´s points from the Alastaro event will be taken away and should that happen we suddenly have a scenario where at least 5 drivers have the chance to become the European Top Fuel champion 2011. We hope FIA will come to a decision before the qualifications start on friday sept 9th. If interested, please check the complete points standings under a separate headline.

Top Fuel Dragster veteran Andy Carter declared shortly before the European Finals he will retire after this season to focus on his son´s karting career. The gap he leaves in the class can maybe be filled over time by the new generation drivers like Antti Horto, Chris Andrews or Kenni Neergaard.  

Veteran Dave Wilson - will he be the one who takes over the champions title from Timo Habermann at the European Finals?

FIA Top Methanol Dragster:
9 teams entered for an 8 car elimination ladder

Notes: Nice to see that both Maltese teams Bugeja and Azzopardi are back in the UK to cpmpete at Santa Pod. Most interesting to see if any of the teams can get down under the magical 5.30 sec. Wilson did it at Tierp in june and by that set a new European record. Top three in the championship; Dave Wilson (279) followed by Fred Hanssen (270) and Timo Habermann (209).

Qualifying well will be of outmost importance and we don´t dare taking a guess on who will walk away with the championship title. Both team Wilson and Hanssen have been consistent and performing at the highest level this season, while 2010 champion Timo Habermann always is a strong player with capacity to win events and who can surely intefere in the points battle between Wilson and Hanssen. Speed record holder Derek Flynn´s nitro injected A fueller on home turf is also we believe a strong candidate for a place in the final.   

Arvid Grödem (left) and Ulf Leanders battle to take over the championship title from 2010 champion Dan Larsen, but will they be the pair that compete in a final for the event win at the European Finals? 

FIA Top Methanol Funny Car:
8 teams entered for an 8 car elimination ladder

Notes:  Arvid Grödem has a slight points advantage over Ulf Leanders, Grödem 244 points compared to Leanders 232.  Grödem ran a personal best of 5.70 at the last event in Hockenheim. Leanders Bros. have done adjustements to increase the chances the car runs in the 5.60´s, so beware and watch out for the red Dodge Charger! Other teams and drivers to watch out extra for is Finland´s Jarmo Kuutniemi who is currently 3rd in the championship and Danny Bellio from Belgium who was in the final at the NitrOlympx.

Gullqvist (left) and Bader was in the final at Hockenheim and is 1st and 2nd in the points standings

FIA Pro Modified:
20 teams entered for a 16 car elimination ladder. The European Finals 2010 winner Adam Flamholc is not on the entry list as his car has just been shipped to the US (we will no doubt have reasons to come back to team Flamholc´s US tour in a forthcoming edition).

Notes:  In Pro Mod we kind of anticipate 5- second runs from teams like the Lindberg Bros, Micke Gullqvist and Mats Eriksson´s Green Goblin Crown Vicky.  

To make it even more exciting the qualifications include a shootout for 8 of the teams which you can read more about in a separate article. All teams will be aiming to run at their highest level of performance no doubt. 

The Championship is lead by Michael Gullqvist at 350 points, followed by Bruno Bader (298) and Johan Lindberg (238). Gullqvist has the destiny in his own hands, he narrowly lost the title to Lindberg in 2010, that will not be repeated but Bader has a theoretical but very slim chance to catch up.
The prestigious event win is also at stake and with so many competitive teams on site, chances are we may see a driver in the final who has little to do with the championship top rankings. 

Jimmy Ålund (left) Pro Stock championship leader and Sampsa Palos, who won the Sweden Internationals and is currently in 3rd place. Both are strong candidates for the winners circle at Santa Pod 

FIA Pro Stock:
10 teams entered for an 8 car elimination ladder

Notes: Jan Palmqvist sits out the last event of the season. Jimmy Ålund is as close as can be to become the 2011 Pro Stock champion. The 96 points lead Ålund has to his advantage is confident, but the battle for the 2nd and 3rd positions are the more uncertain. Rookie Thomas Lindström has been a master at qualifying this season and he is currently 2nd in the points standings with 203 followed by Sampsa Palos (197) and 2010 champion Michael Malmgren at 182 points. Additional candidates for a place in the final or event event at Santa Pod also include drivers like Michael Callin and Richard Sundblom.  


Ian King (left) and Peter Svensson was in the winner´s circle at Tierp Arena in june. At the European Finals they battle for the European Champion´s title.

UEM Top Fuel Bike:
8 teams entered for an 8 bike elimination ladder.

Notes:   It is Ian King who leads the championship at 203 points before Peter Svensson 186 and Petri Paljakka also 186. Svensson has been impressing the most lately and his runs in the 5-second range at Hockenheim makes him a serious candidate to both the event win and a title, but we are sure King will want to have a say too. Steve Woollatt looked confident at Hockenheim and has a proven record of performing well at Santa Pod, while 2010 champion Petri Paljakka has had his ups and downs this season. Perhaps he can get it all together at the European Finals. Otto Knebl from the Czech Republic enters his first championship event for the season. To many he is most well known for his participation in the UEM Funny Bike cup, but Knebl is looking to run in Top Fuel Bike 2012 and starts out without any pressure at the European Finals.    

Per Bengtsson is the man to beat at Santa Pod. Pictured with mechanic Mats after the Sweden Internationals win at Tierp Arena in june.  

UEM Super Twin Bike:
18 teams entered for an 8 bike elimination ladder

Notes: Entering the European Finals it is Per Bengtsson Sweden (the 2009 champion) which is in a slight lead with 223 points followed by Roel Koedam 209, Jan Sturla Hegré 191 and Hans Olav Olstad 189.

Koedam announed at the NitrOlympx he will retire after the season and what better way than seriously having a go at the European Champions title? Although the above mentioned riders are the ones fighting for championship ranking positions, the event win may be a completely different story. So many potential winners in the class and some, like reigning champion Lorenz Stäuble have not had the best of seasons so far. One more event win is at stake and other strong contenders include Christian Jäger, Samu Kemppainen and Australian rider Mark Ashelford, who has not yet competed at Santa Pod and starts with a blank sheet when looking for a working baseline next weekend.

Canadian tuner and rider Ron Houniet was planned to enter the European Finals on the same bike Nate Gagnon ran at Hockenheim before returning to Canada to conclude his race season. But some license matters assumedly has made the team decide to let veteran drag biker Ronny Aasen take Houniets place at the European Finals. Although Aasen has not been running in the championship this season his rider´s skills are extensive.

Jesper Thiel - the 2011 Pro Stock Bike champion, but can he manage to win at Santa Pod?

UEM Pro Stock Bike:
15 teams entered for a 16 bike elimination ladder

Notes:  Championship points situation in the class is that Jesper Thiel already is the European Pro Stock Bike champion while three riders compete for the runner up and 3rd place. Kalle Lyrén at 204 points, Fredrik Fredlund at 300 and rookie Rasmus Olesen (Thiels team mate) at 285. Olesen has impressed the most lately, while Lyrén is always consistent and a confident rider. Fredlund still has more to prove and is the one that can compete with Thiel about the low ET:s at Santa Pod. European Champion Dave Beck has not had the success he had hoped for this season but can run the numbers needed to win rounds. Low 7-second runs can be anticipated from a few riders if the conditions are right!  

Countdown for Johan Lindberg (left), Micke Gullqvist and all the other FIA and UEM teams
for the European finals 2011.

About Santa Pod Raceway:

Santa Pod Raceway is Europe’s most famous dragstrip and hosts the first and last rounds of the FIA European Championship. For drag race fans in Europe and America, the UK track needs little introduction.

Santa Pod Raceway opened at Easter 1966 as Europe's first permanent drag racing venue. It is still known as the home of European Drag Racing. It was built on a disused World War II American air base, RAF Podington, once home to the 92nd Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Force. The track was named Santa Pod after the Santa Ana strip in California, combined with the name of the local village, Podington. Since then the name Santa Pod has become synonymous with the sport of drag racing in Europe. Started with only the ¾-mile (1,207-metre) main runway as a drag strip, nowadays Santa Pod is one of the best-equipped tracks with full concrete safety barriers, large grandstands, VIP suites, fully-paved pit area, camping facilities, etc.

Text: Åsa Kinnemar for Speedgroup
Text about Santa Pod Raceway by Caroline Day 
Photos: Lena Perés, Julian Hunt, Remco Scheelings, Roger Gorringe and Speedgroup
This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletters #14/2011

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