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Carter takes the Micke
Coming into the final round of the FIA European Championship six-race series, Andy Carter was in third place in the points. Sweden’s Micke Kågered was on pole, fellow countrymen Tommy Möller was second and Jöran Persåker occupied the fourth spot. All of these had a mathematical chance of securing the prestigious FIA Top Fuel crown at the season’s finale at Santa Pod in September.
Thomas Naatas mad it through to the T/F finals
Friday’s initial Pro qualifying attempts saw all eight T/F competitors put in runs, with Andy idling up track with the weakest pass of the session, carding just 21.03 seconds at 62mph. It later transpired that this was a ploy to secure the bump spot in the vain hope that Micke would be the number-one man, so that he could then go on to take Micke out in the opening pairing of eliminations. As matters transpired, Andy did in fact nab the coveted title– and by doing so became the only driver to have won the FIA T/F championship twice – but not in quite the manner the team envisaged.
Smax lights up the startline
Firstly, the second session of Friday’s qualifying efforts went by the board when a rain delay put the schedule back to 8.30pm - the track curfew being a mere half-hour later. The 2003 champ, Smax Smith, was first up, but went on a wild ride due to a damp track. His fellow drivers saw what had happened and decided not to follow, so the session was cancelled.
It was hoped that the Fuellers could have made three runs on the Saturday, but this didn’t pan out, alas. Norway’s Thomas Nataas nabbed Low ET honours in the morning session – 4.99 @ 288mph – but when the second session was completed Andy had secured pole bragging rights thanks to a 4.98/295 blast that had the capacity crowd cheering for more.
Tommy Moller lost out to Micke Kagered
Come Sunday’s eliminations, the Carter blaster dispensed with Smax Smith’s Promise Dreams machine thanks to the latter being the first to leave the line too early and wasting a 4.99/227. Andy’s early-leave 5.14/226 timing ticket took him to the semi-finals, however, as did main opponent Micke Kågered’s slick-shredding 5.07/264 win over Tommy Möller.
Round two saw Micke’s dream of the championship begin to evaporate when the supercharger pulley came off and bounced across the track, thereby allowing Nataas a straightforward run to the final. Andy dispensed with the challenge from Dutchman Lex Joon’s MPM Oil entry with an on-and-off the throttle 5.33/211 against Lex’s lax 10.66/75.
The two Rune Fjeld dragsters thus faced off in the finale. Andy needed to beat his team mate to secure the championship and this he did in fine style, pulling a holeshot to take the win with a 5.23/296 shot over his opponent’s game 5.53/264. Congratulations go to the man from Gerrards Cross for making the GoTalk team’s year and commiserations to the Bahco Tools’ crew for losing out by just two points!
2004 FIA T/F champion Andy Carter
A special mention must go to Jon Webster in the Canto Consultancy dragster and his narrow defeat in round one when racing Nataas. He lost by less than one-thousandth of a second, with the margin of victory being less than 5 inches!
Funny Car competition saw Gordon Smith finally annexe the MSA British championship title and event honours with a finale defeat of nemesis John Spuffard, the revitalised Shockwave Pontiac Firebird running 5.49/234 over Spuff’s troubled 6.61/142.
Urs Erbacher's T/M Firebird funny car
With the FIA TM/D title already having been claimed by the American Car Imports entry for a second consecutive year, driver Dave Wilson was concentrating on getting into the winner’s circle once more. He qualified on pole, ran 5.43/253 on a round-one solo and backed it up with a 5.45/255 defeat of Germany’s Peter Schöfer in the final. This established the .43 as a new European record. The ACI entourage was ecstatic.
FIA Top Methanol Funny Car action was very tight, the championship being fought out by two teams, the Leanders Brothers from Sweden and Urs Erbacher’s Fat Attack stalwarts from Switzerland. Urs secured pole-qualifying spot and Ulf occupied second place. The two met in the final and Ulf came out on top, taking victory with a 5.75/246mph against 5.82/247. But it was Urs who won the war, so to speak, because the extra points he earned from securing Low ET were sufficient to claim his second consecutive championship.
Jimmy Alund 2004 FIA Pro Stock Champion
Pro Stock competition saw Sweden’s Jimmy Ålund (crowned the FIA champ in Hockenheim) head the seven-car, seven-second field of qualifiers. He worked his way to the finale with relative ease before dispensing with fellow Swede Ulf Jonsson, with a second straight Euro Finals’ win, 6.97/196 over Ulf’s 7.12/191 chaser. The bad luck award in Pro Stock went to Kenneth Söderström, who took a wild ride when his Firebird got out of the racing groove in the semi-finals and whacked the concrete barrier at mid-track. He was okay, but the car wasn’t.
Hakan Nilsson took the 2004 Pro Mod Title despite losing early in eliminations
The other prime doorslammer category – Pro Mod – attracted no fewer than nineteen cars, ten of which hailed from Sweden. The first six spots in the 16-car qualified field were held by Swedes and two Brits were among the other ten to make the cut. The man to beat was Patrick Wikström (he set the pace with a pole-qualifier of 6.32/222), no one managed to get past the supercharged, flamed Camaro as it worked its way through the pack to set up a showdown with Håkan Nilsson’s nitrous-assisted Camaro. The Veidec entry came out on the losing end of a 6.33/221, 7.19/205 tussle, but there was consolation for Håkan who secured the NDRS Bilsport championship laurels earlier in the event. Pro-modified will be an officially recognised FIA category next year which is good news for the prestige of the series, however rumours suggest that it could be whittled down to just an eight car field, which would be a retrograde step for arguably the second most entertaining class in drag racing.
Peter Wacker couldn't repeat his earlier form
Hakan Fallstrom's Ford Fairlane
Patrick Pers Corvette
Sportsman racers enjoyed the best day of the event on Thursday, when many entrants made six or seven passes under a warm sun. Rain and strong winds over the weekend made for less than ideal racing conditions, but the biggest and best European race of the year went off pretty well all things being considered.
Sportsman elimination winners were as follows:
Competition Eliminator George Chiarella ’37 Ford 8.52/143
Super Pro ET Barry Giles Dragster 7.99/159
Pro ET Chris Isaacs Standard Vanguard 10.01/132
Sportsman ET Martin Lewis Vauxhall Nova 16.81/73
Super Comp Phill Bennett Dragster 8.99/136
Super Gas Frank Mason Chevy Corvette 9.94/135
Super Street Mark Watkins Datsun 280Z 10.88/122
Jr. Dragster Nick Mugridge ‘Rolling Thunder’ 8.32/73
Story: Andy Willsheer
Photos: Andy Willsheer & Andy Kirk