Over 200 participants gathered for the 2021 annual Euro Finals held at Santa Pod Raceway over the September 10-12 weekend. It wasn’t your typical European Finals since the ongoing pandemic there hasn’t been a full FIA European Drag Racing Championship schedule the second year in a row. But with the UK COVID restrictions eased, the management at Santa Pod was able to transform the event to a shootout format on a reduced level with a few international guests showing up as well.
Bruno Bader from Switzerland brought his Pro Mod Corvette and Frenchman Jean Dulamon his nitrous-assisted Camaro. Along with Norbert Kuno from Germany and his Dodge Avenger, David Vegter made the trip from the Netherlands to round up the British-dominated 12 Pro Mod entries battling for an eight-car field.
Just three Top Fuel cars showed up for battle. Besides British Susanne Callin, Top Fuel pilot Antii Horto visited from Finland and Super Street Bike champ Ida Zetterström returned from Aland for her second attempt to obtain her Top Fuel license. The necessary second run was denied when rain cancelled the session she was supposed to run at Santa Pod’s “Bug Jam” event earlier this season.
On her second round out, Zetterström ran an impressive 3.86 at 265.52 mph, the quickest licensing run ever in Europe, even with a snatched blower belt from half-track on. Naturally this run also earned her the top spot. The other two drivers of the shortened Top Fuel field suffered from tire shake during their runs. Callin recorded a 4.11 at 224.45 mph good for second and Horto went to the third spot with his 6.70 at a rolling 92.37 mph.
After four rounds of Pro Mod qualifying, Vegter showed no rust and went straight to the top spot posting a 5.87 run on the boards at 243.69 mph. Followed by Nic Davies in his turbocharged Pontiac with a 5.94 et only a margin in front of Swiss Bruno Bader, winner of the “Doorslammer” event the weekend before, sitting in third spot with his 5.95 et run.
Four Funny Cars from the UK duked it out in qualifying with Steve Ashdown coming out on top of the ladder with his 5.31 run at a slowing 142.11 mph in his “Undertaker” Dodge Stratus-bodied Funny Car.
Top Fuel pilot Susanne Callin faced off against Antii Horto in the first-round pairing. Both had to step off the throttle due to traction problems at around the 300-feet mark. Callin’s 6.32 at 97.30 mph gave her the win over Horto’s 8.31 at 77.87 mph. Zetterström took the round one solo running a solid 4.10 at 214.04 mph drifting to the wall from half-track on but managed to stay off it. She then defeated Callin with a solid 4.02 at 222.35 mph to Callin’s 4.16 et at 216.52 mph.
In Funny Car, Ashdown beat Kent in a tire shake troubled finale with a rolling 10.65 to a 10.87 run.
The final of Pro Mod was a bit more exciting when veteran driver Bruno Bader who beat Jean Dulamon in the first and Nick Davies in the second round, roared past David Vegter beating his 3.89 at 190.98 mph with a slightly quicker 3.85 at 191.24 mph. At the finish line sparks were emerging underneath Vegter’s Camaro. Later he found out that his flexplate broke during the run, which unfortunately resulted in further damage to the blower and chassis.
In the duel of the Nostalgia Funny Cars, contested over five show runs, Tim Garlick took home the crown with his “Apache” Pontiac defeating Tony Betts in the “Venom” Camaro with a 6.11 at 229.07 mph to Betts’ 6.22 at 236.54 mph.
All in all and under the given circumstances, it was a great event with plenty of highlights like Andy Bond’s Street Eliminator ET record of 6.82 or Steve Venables’ Super Street Bike speed record of 218.97 mph, which gave hope for a complete and even more competitive international 2022 FIA European Championship starting in May at Santa Pod.
Winners in the other categories were:
Comp Eliminator: Dan Williams 11.03 at 88.73 mph def. Nic Williams 8.96 at 118.63 mph (red light).
Super Comp: Martin Curbishley 9.13 at 122.88 mph def. Leah Kellett 8.89 at 154.21 mph (breakout).
Super Gas: Andy Harrison 9.87 at 138.55 mph (less breakout) def. Andy Dibley 9.87 at 146.73 mph.
Super Pro ET: Daniel Giles 7.49 at 164.23 mph def. Andrew Norman 7.73 at 176.39 mph.
Pro ET: Ronnie Mercer 8.92 at 142.46 mph def. Lee Huxley 9.30 at 139.06 mph.
Street Eliminator: Andy Bond 6.82 at 212.90 mph (new E.T. record) def. Mark Todd 15.35 at 53.46 mph.
Junior Dragster: Purdie Hadfield 7.97 at 80.93mph def. Harry Redshaw 8.46 at 76.80 mph (red light).
Top Fuel Bike: Steve Woollatt 6.18 at 223.41 mph def. Al Smith (no show).
Funny Bike: Mark Smith 6.97 at 191.31 mph def. Bertrand Maurice (no show).
Comp Bike: Louis Davies 7.00 at 186.66 mph def. Jordan Kenway 8.09 at 163.10 mph.
Super Street Bike: Jake Mechaell 7.00 at 208.17 mph def. Steve Venables 7.06 at 206.14 mph.
8.59 Bike: Joe Elliott 8.58 at 153.21 mph def. Alan Morrison 8.49 at 146.68 mph (breakout).
9.50 Bike: Phil Harrison 9.61 at 146.27 mph def. Martin Hallett 10.87 at 85.06 mph.
ET Bike: Phil Pratt 9.08 at 143.82 mph def. Michael Gooding 9.27 at 147.69 mph.
Junior Drag Bike: Hollie King 11.53 at 48.53 mph def. Meg Talbot 9.78 at 66.62 mph.