Four-time FIA champ Erbacher ready for 'second first race' of the year ARLESHEIM, Switzerland (March 10) -- While it's true that four-time European drag racing champion Urs Erbacher and his Swiss-based FatAttack.ch Top Fuel team raced in the ...
Four-time FIA champ Erbacher ready for 'second first race' of the year
ARLESHEIM, Switzerland (March 10) -- While it's true that four-time European drag racing champion Urs Erbacher and his Swiss-based FatAttack.ch Top Fuel team raced in the season-opening Winternationals last month in Pomona, Calif., he's considering this weekend's 40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway as a "second first race" of the year.
"The rain in Pomona didn't allow us to do very much," Erbacher said from his world-renowned custom motorcycle shop in the Swiss Alps. "We qualified very well with 3.91 at 305 mph, especially with just one round to try, but then we have problems in Round 1 of eliminations because the lane was leaking water from underneath and race is over for us.
"We have a brand new car, built just for me, and my crew chief Wayne Dupuy and the boys are very excited about the potential of this dragster. We just haven't had the chance to do anything with it yet. I pray for sunshine in Florida so we can have some fun. I've been saying that Gainesville is our second first race of the year because that's what it feels like for me."
Erbacher has good reason to be excited. Aside from qualifying a lofty sixth in Pomona, Dupuy led him to a strong semifinal finish at the NHRA Finals last November in a car that's considerably heavier than the one he has now.
"Our performance is much improved," Erbacher said. "It's time to really make some noise over there and maybe win a race or two. We're trying very hard to raise enough funding to remain in the United States this year and I know from experience that success on the racetrack helps the sponsor hunt quite a bit."
Last year, Erbacher became the first European racer to win an elimination round on the NHRA tour in more than 30 years. He's hoping to become the first to win a national event outright.
His success on U.S. soil prompted current FIA Top Fuel champion Andy Carter of England to fly over and race in Pomona. Later this year, Dutchman Lex Joon also plans to make his NHRA debut.
"We started 2008 in the USA and did pretty good," Erbacher said. "When we went home for the FIA season the other drivers were very happy to see that we represented European drag racing so well. Now some of the others are coming over to try NHRA. It's very good for our series, I think.
"I feel more confidence in being able to race against the very best drivers in the world now. We had to learn how to race here but I think we've made the transition at this point. But I still want to prove it on the racetrack. That's where it matters the most."