One year later, Erbacher looking for the ultimate slice of history HOUSTON (March 26) -- One year ago, four-time FIA champion Urs Erbacher of Switzerland became the first European drag racer in 30 years to win an elimination round in NHRA's ...
One year later, Erbacher looking for the ultimate slice of history
HOUSTON (March 26) -- One year ago, four-time FIA champion Urs Erbacher of Switzerland became the first European drag racer in 30 years to win an elimination round in NHRA's premier category -- Top Fuel -- during the annual running of the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
Now Europe's answer to custom motorcycle builders Jesse James and the Teutul family of Orange County Choppers fame is back to make some more history on this side of the pond in his 8,000-horsepower Century Asphalt dragster.
"It was great excitement to win a few rounds last year and earn some credit for European racers but what we really want more than anything is to be the first to take a Wally trophy back home," said Erbacher, a huge reality TV star all across Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. "So far, in 58 years of NHRA competition, no European racer has won a Top Fuel trophy in NHRA, the top level of the sport.
"We want to change that. It's the reason we came here in the first place. At first, it was a big adjustment just to be here and race these guys. But now we have enough NHRA experience to feel completely comfortable. We know we can hold our own against the teams here and we have a chance to win a race or two, for sure."
To that end, Erbacher's efforts, both on the FIA and NHRA tours, has been led by American crew chief Wayne Dupuy for the last two seasons. This past off-season the crew put a brand-new custom-made chassis into service, lightening their load and improving their performance across the board.
For this weekend's race they have newly designed David Nickens-built cylinder heads and a completely revamped fuel delivery system.
"We're going for it," Erbacher said. "We will race this weekend in Texas and next weekend in Las Vegas and then we decide whether to stay in the States or head back to run the FIA tour again. It all depends on our success over the next 10 days and if we manage to close a deal with an American sponsor.
"The first thing we need to worry about is qualifying for this race. I hope the weather agrees with us and we get all four qualifying passes here in Houston because we'd like to add that data to our books. With no testing allowed, every pass is valuable."
Erbacher will have a bit of a hometown advantage this weekend as he enjoys primary sponsorship from Century Asphalt, which is headed by track owners Greg and Gary Angel, as well as associate support from Johnny Bang's Bang and Bump Shop in Tomball. Bang serves on Erbacher's crew and paints his racecars.