May 27th – 31st 2011
The 1st round of the FIA European Championship and 2nd round of the UEM Drag Bike Championship, the Main Event at Santa Pod Raceway, UK had everything. Anticipation, excitement, disappointment, fulfillment and a strike of bad luck..
The qualifications at Santa Pod included a lot of exciting action in all classes. When the eliminations was about to start and the Pro Mods had just lined up, the sky opened up and the cancellation of the eliminations needed to complete the event was a fact in the late afternoon.

Luckily there is a lot to tell anyhow and we do it in the class by class reviews as well in interviews with a few of the teams. Below some highlights from the event to start with.

Tommy Johnson Jr.

The combination of US top fuel pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. and Danish Andersen Racing´s turned out to be a match made in heaven. Johnson no.1 qualifier, confident with the car and relaxed with the atmosphere around the serious but easy going Danish team and with Johnson´s ex-crew chief Jim Brissette also working for them. Team West-Tec announced they plan to take on young Chris Andrews to the team at the end of the season, the team which already include former European Champion Andy Carter. The team had no luck at the Main Event, but then again the competition in the class is and will likely stay strong this season which means there will be first class teams outside the 8-car ladders at most events. Lex Joon made a welcome come back and although not running the full championship team MPM Oil with Joon behind the wheel will be seen later this season. 

Linda Thun Tönseth ex-top fuel pilot that enters in Pro Mod this season

In Pro Mod 2010 championship runner-up Micke Gullqvist was the quickest of the field with 6.085 sec while reigning champion Johan Lindberg was 3rd quickest with 6.139 sec. They both delivered and that with a number of first class teams chasing from behind. Anxious seconds of waiting when Henri Joosten´s stunning nitrous injected Pro Mod car took fire at the startline and before it was confirmed Henri was out of the car and safe. Per Svedberg from Sweden is a rookie in the class, runs the full championship and has contracted US tuner Scotty Cannon to help out. Svedberg was leader of the pack after round one and qualified in an impressive 5th spot in the 16-car ladder. Linda Thun Tönseth is the lady driver in the class, new in Pro Mod but familiar with FIA championship racing after having been in Top Fuel Dragster some years back

Maltese supporters on site at Santa Pod

In methanol dragster a significant addition to the class was the two Maltese teams where Monty Bugeja made a championship comeback after 10 years and new comers in form of the Azzopardi brothers was welcomed to the class. They are not running the full championship this season but can at least be expected to return to Santa Pod once again this season for the European Finals.

Ulf Leanders race ready

The Leanders Bros from Sweden with Ulf Leanders behind the wheel made a very welcome come back in European championship drag racing after having kept the car in the US all year 2010. Leanders no.1 qualifier during qualification session #2 and running a personal best (and unofficial European record) of 5.63 sec. Another team who had worked hard, gone to the bottom with everything after a problem filled season 2010 was Arvid Grödem and team Westside from Norway. Consistent runs in the 5.80´s during qualifications looked promising. Leif Andréasson who had successful test runs at the new Tierp Arena earlier in May (and who is one of the founders of the venue) will join the class at his home track for the Sweden Internationals.

Jimmy Ålund - Pro Stock

Jimmy Ålund was the man to set the level in Pro Stock, four stable and quick runs during qualifications show team Ålund is back to hunt for a 7th championship title in Pro Stock. 2010 champion Michael Malmgren not far behind and we expect the battle to also include a few more teams as we progress into the the next event in Tierp. Very strong class this season and always a pleasure watching the tight, consistent racing and mental battles between the drivers at the startline.

In Top Fuel Bike the sensation was a fact when reigning champion Petri Paljakka failed to qualify. Ian King´s new bike performing steady while UK´s Steve Woollatt again showed he has winner potential. Woollatt low qualifier before the rain put an end to the further competition.

Impressive performance by rookie Christian Jäger and European Champion Lorenz Stäuble in Super Twin. Jäger who joined the class after successful years in funny bike, have adapted well and some already mention him as a potential championship winner. Stäuble would probably want to have a say in that matter though. However it is young Jan Sturla Hegré who leaves Santa Pod in the championship points lead after the victory in Hungary and with Hans Olav Olstad in second place. This class include so many first class teams and show the strongest number of entries we have seen. Stay tuned for the Sweden International preview and event coverage where 20 teams will fight for a place in the 8 bike elimination ladder!

Elvira Karlsson Sweden is the youngest rider in Pro Stock Bike and it is her first season in UEM Championship racing

Disappointment in Pro Stock Bike Class when European record holder Dave Beck had to cancel his entry already before the first round of qualifications due to a defect crank causing major damage. Something that also stopped Kenneth Vik´s further competition during the second day of qualifying.
Performance level did not get close to any new records during qualifications, but Jesper Thiel has been close already during the first event in Hungary and is after as well records and wins. Thiel was also no 1 qualifier with team mate Rasmus Olesen 3rd and veteran Fredrik Fredlund in 2nd place after 4 sessions. The battle came to a halt without the eliminations, but will continue at Tierp Arena, where also top contenders like Anders Abrahamson and 2010 champion Ulf Ögge joins the championship.

.. competition was on among all entered teams at the Main Event, pro and sportsman. Host judge Andy “Tog” Rogers from Eurodragster.com selected the Maltese methanol dragster team of Monty Bugeja as best dressed for their bright, nice looking and easy to identify shirts. Team Bugeja receive $250 value of goods from Vicci. www.vicci.com

Vicci which had also delivered stunning new crew shirts for teams Habermann (Methanol Dragster), Andersen Racing (Top Fuel Dragster), Gullqvist Motorsport (Pro Mod) and last but not least to Speedgroup´s staff just in time for the Main Event.

The online event coverage provided by www.eurodragster.com had the following statistics

FIA Main Event coverage including Test Days Unique visitors: 150,767
Page views: 1,017,311
Hits: 9,643,701

The event was filmed for tv and will result in 2 x 52 minute shows covering the 3 UEM championship Bike classes and 5 FIA Championship car classes.
For a list of broadcasters please visit www.speedgroup.eu at the page tv-broadcast. The shows are also expected to be placed online at the Speedgroup site within 10 days after the event.


Pro Mod driver Mats Eriksson was one of the many drivers and riders  who paid a visit to Speedgroup service center where co-ordinators Gittli Koller (left) and Åsa Kinnemar (right) together with Aila Striem and Michael Lukowski serviced the teams in contingency program and championship matters. A selection of useful tools, chemicals and accessories from Persåker Speedshop showed to be appreciated by the pro and sportsman teams. In addition spectators came to visit and Speedgroup staff on site could provide answers to most questions or direct anyone with a deeper interest to learn to the teams who are true experts in the art of drag racing!


 Waiting to enter the Santa Pod track. Team Andersen Racing (Per and Karsten featured) while Tommy Johnson Jr is their assigned pilot for 2011. The stunning shirts are designed by Vicci 


Text: Åsa Kinnemar for Speedgroup
Photos:Remco Scheelings, Roger Gorringe, Speedgroup 
Bugeja best dressed photo by Ed O'Connell, Eurodragster.com.

This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletters #6/2011

Published by Speedgroup www.speedgroup.eu
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Any use of the above requires permission from Speedgroup
email: asa.kinnemar@speedgroup.eu
© Speedgroup 2011