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DI 30 Under 30 2023: Jndia Erbacher

Jndia Erbacher was first taken to the dragstrip when she was three weeks old. Even though she grew up around motorsports, Erbacher was never really into drag racing. 

Her hobby consisted of a different type of horsepower – horse show jumping. However, when the time came for her dad, one of the first drag racers in Switzerland, to retire after spending more than 35 years in the sport, Jndia decided to switch gears.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]

“We are a family team,” explains Erbacher. “We don’t do it for a business – we just do it out of passion as a family. It was like, if he stops racing, I will lose my racing family, so I asked him to give me a try.”

Erbacher’s father, Urs, immediately said no to the idea, stating that it was too dangerous. So, she went a different route to obtain her first drag racing license by asking a friend to help fund the process.

“I went to my dad and said, ‘You do it with me, or I’m doing it alone,’ and then he was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it with you,’” she says.

Erbacher began by getting her Super Comp license, then worked her way to a Top Alcohol Dragster license. She only competed in three races as a TAD driver and then took the step into a Top Fuel dragster.

After competing in the class for several years, Erbacher’s goal was to field the Top Fuel dragster for a full season. However, this year, the FIA Top Fuel racer was thrown an unexpected curveball.

“I was planning to do the full season after the Main Event since we were pretty good in the points,” she says. “Then, at the Main Event, the first race of the year, I had some very massive back pain after the last qualification around on Saturday. I was thinking it’s probably just something in my back, maybe a muscle or something.” 

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Erbacher continued to compete throughout Sunday up to the semifinals, where she was eventually eliminated. “After the semifinals, I almost couldn’t get out of the car,” she confesses. 

The 29-year-old returned home and was still thinking the pain was muscle-related. However, after a week of no relief, she went to the doctor for X-rays, and it turned out she had a fractured vertebra in her spine.

After only two and a half months, Erbacher returned to racing and competed at the NitrOlympX at the Hockenheim Motodrom. At the end of the 2023 season, she finished third in the FIA championship points. 

Now, her plan for the future is to chase a championship in Europe. However, Erbacher has to juggle her full-time student status, a full-time job, and securing funding. Plus, the Erbacher team still has the dragster she licensed in stored with the Lagana family in the U.S., with hopes to run a few races stateside this coming year as well. 

“As I said, we are a family team. All of us are doing this in our free time,” she concludes. “All of my crew has a full-time job, and I know how much effort this is. I really want to thank them and my dad and mom. I know I wouldn’t be here without them.”

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