Image: Anita Mäkelä leaves the start at Santa Pod
WOMEN RULE THIS WEEKEND IN THE WORLD’S FASTEST MOTORSPORT
FIA/FIM European Finals - Thu 5 – Sun 8 September 2019
Top Fuel Dragsters are the world’s fastest, loudest, most powerful racing cars, by an enormous margin. And the three quickest, fastest drivers ever to hurtle these 10,000-horsepower behemoths down a racetrack in Europe have one thing in common.
They are all women.
Maja Udtian is the quickest of them all, at 3.816 seconds over the measured 1,000-foot racing distance. The young Norwegian set the new European record two weekends ago at Tierp, Sweden, clocking a cool 316.55 miles per hour at the finish.
Switzerland’s Jndia Erbacher is faster still, at 318.96mph, and lags just a thousandth of a second behind Udtian on the timers, at 3.817sec.
Veteran Finnish racer Anita Mäkelä may trail her two young rivals in the performance stakes by mere fractions, at 3.828sec, 317.45mph, yet it is she who is favoured to secure her fourth FIA European Top Fuel crown when the trio meet for the last time this year at Santa Pod’s FIA European Finals. They will not be alone: a fourth woman driver, Sweden’s Susanne Callin – the world’s first 300mph teenager before motherhood and family life took her out of the cockpit for 14 years – will join an otherwise all-male field of high-speed combatants battling for the prestige of victory in the race, even though the season’s championship now lies beyond their grasp.
That matter rests solely between Mäkelä and Udtian. Mäkelä dominated the first half of the six-race season, winning three of the first four races. Then Udtian beat her by inches in the Tierp final last month to close within sight of Mäkelä’s points lead. It will take a severe collapse of form for Mäkelä to forfeit that lead, but it would not be for the first time this year. Mäkelä qualified on pole for her home race at Kauhava in Finland, but was then defeated in the opening round of eliminations. In drag racing, there is no next lap on which to recover from one’s errors. A similar slip could put Udtian in touching distance of the crown, a remarkable achievement in the Norwegian neophyte’s first full FIA championship season.
Top Fuel Dragsters headline a full programme of European and UK championship drag racing, on two wheels as well as on four. The FIA/FIM European Finals take place this weekend from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th September – find more information at www.santapod.co.uk/eurofinals.php. Santa Pod Raceway is located near Wellingborough, postcode NN29 7XA.