The third weekend in August will see the Rico Anthes Quartermile at the Hockenheim Ring firmly in the hands of the drag racers once again. Acceleration experts from all over Europe are taking to the starting grid in four FIA car classes and – this year for the first time – five FIM/E bike classes. The drivers and riders are hoping to take home the official FIA/FIM Drag Racing European Championship. The NitrOlympX is a big step in the right direction. Alongside the expert classes, a number of sportsman classes are also taking to the asphalt to show their skill against the unique backdrop of the Hockenheim Motodrom.
For the four FIA classes, Hockenheim is the fourth of six stages on the way to ‘Drag Racing Olympus’. They have already been hard at work gathering points at Santa Pod (GB), Tierp Arena (Sweden) and Alastaro (Finland) to ensure they have the best possible starting point at the NitrOlympX.
Top Fuel is the name of the fastest and for many, the most spectacular of all dragster classes. These ‘hulks in machine form’ have been packed with 10,000 HP and loaded with liquid dynamite (nitromethanol) for the showpiece of the continent’s biggest drag racing event. Top Fuel is the only class in which the racing distance is shortened to 1,000 feet (304.8 metres) due to the high speeds and to ensure the safety of the drivers. These high-performance monsters catapult themselves to over 100 km/h in just 0.8 seconds before pulling the brake parachute on the finish line at over 500 km/h after approx. 3.8 seconds.
The top three in the championship are all waving the ‘white and blue’ colours of the Finns. Europe’s fastest woman, Anita Mäkelä, already has an impressive 250 points in the bag and is in a good position to take the 2018 title back to Finland for the third time. However, since there are still two races to come in Sweden and England following the NitrOlympX, it is still all to play for. Her countrymen Antti Horto and Timo Lehtimäki are currently occupying second and third place, followed closely by last year’s champion Duncan Micallef from Malta.
Top Fuel newcomer Jndia Erbacher also proves that the gender discussion does not play a role in drag racing. Even if she no longer has a shot at the title, she has still has a few things to take care of at NitrOlympX. The biggest dream of the young lady from Switzerland is to make it to the final at Hockenheim, which she already managed in 2017, so that she can take her place alongside her father Urs in making the last race a Swiss family affair.
Top Methanol dragsters and Top Methanol Funny Cars competed together in the same class for the first time in 2017. Unlike the Top Fuellers, the Top Methanol vehicles have to be started by hand. In drag racing, every thousandth counts, so a quick reaction time at the light is crucial. The requires maximum concentration from the pilots and poses another real challenge. Here, speeds of approx. 400 km/h can be reached in around 5.2 seconds.
Germans Timo and Dennis Habermann are also dominating the field in 2018. The ‘fastest brothers in the world’, who have written a more than impressive success story with countless drag racing titles, will be going into the race with Timo and 1st and Dennis in 2nd place in the championship. Third in the league is Swede Jonny Lagg, who is still far from writing off his title chances. Excitement is guaranteed!
The cubic kings of drag racing head to the starting grid with up to 15 litres displacement and are often also tuned up with compressors and nitrous oxide systems. This enables them to reach top speeds of up to 390 km/h in a time of around six seconds.
The legendary battles between championship leaders, Jimmy Alund from Sweden and his fellow countryman Michael Gullqvist will be especially interesting. In Alastaro, his home circuit, Jimmy Alund managed to achieve the impossible, and came first in two classes (Pro Modified and Pro Stock). In doing so, he wrote a new chapter in the history of drag racing. No driver has ever previously managed to win races in two FIA classes on a single afternoon. Michael ‘Micke’ Gullqvist is, as the titles suggest, the absolute king of the scene and is now behind the wheel as the seven-times and current Pro-Mod European Champion. Jimmy Alund has stated personally that he will be fully focussed on Pro Mod at NitrOlympX.
Pro Stock Cars
The Pro Stock Cars feature the ‘precision-mechanics department’ of drag racing. Only classic tuning is allowed – that means no nitro, nitrous oxide, laughing gas or blowers. However, to still reach speeds of around 340 km/ in approx. 6.5 seconds, any excess weight has to be shed. “Filing, polishing and lightening” is the motto here.
The heart of a mid-range car beats beneath the ultra-light chassis. In this class, the body shape and engine must be produced by the same manufacturer.
After three rounds of the championship, Stefan Ernryd is in the lead with 203 points, followed closely by Bengt Ljungdahl with 183 points and Michael Malmgren is in third with 177 points.
Things are also going to get really wild once again in the amateur or so-called ‘Sportsman classes’. Here you can find a number of vehicles which can really only be seen as ‘eye candy’ and technical treats. The palette is huge, featuring Competition Cars, Super Pro ET, Super Comp, Super Gas, Pro ET and Junior Dragsters. Right now, the Sportsman are highly motivated to get every last drop of power out of their vehicles, since they have a unique opportunity to win in front of their home crowd on the Rico Anthes Quartermile.
Whether in the profile or amateur classes, every drag racing pilot will be pushing their cars to breaking point on this weekend, while thousands of fans transform the motordrome into a real witches’ cauldron.
Friday tickets are available from 25.00 euros and a weekend ticket for three days of action starts at 69.00 euros. All tickets include entry to the paddock and are available through the Hockenheim Ring ticket hotline at +49 (0)6205 950 222 or in the online ticket shop.