Top Fuel Dragster racers on 1000-foot racing

The 2009 FHRA Nitro Nationals was the second FIA European Championship event at which Top Fuel Dragster was contested over one thousand feet (more properly 990 feet), following the 2008 Veidec Festival at Mantorp Park. With uncertainty over the future of quarter-mile Top Fuel Dragster racing in the NHRA, and FIA European Championship rules tending to follow NHRA rules, spoke to four Top Fuel Dragster racers entered for the 2009 FHRA Nitro Nationals to find out their personal thoughts about racing over the "metric quarter mile".

The racers' comments are presented in the order in which we received them. Do you think that one thousand foot racing is a good thing?

Micke Kågered: In general I am for running over the quarter mile, but at tracks like Alastaro and Mantorp Park where there are safety issues to consider, such as barriers and the length of the shutdown area, I am in favour of running one thousand feet. Also with this recession and financial difficult times for the teams, I can see an advantage in running one thousand feet which in general saves parts.

Anita Mäkelä: Yes, there are reasons for doing so.

Andy Carter: I personally prefer to run over a quarter mile. But from the team budget point of view one thousand feet is better. It makes it cheaper to run a Top Fueller and the way the economy is at the moment that's a good thing - maybe it will bring more teams in, if they are on the verge of going Top Fuel then the lower costs might tip the balance for them.

When we first went to a thousand feet in Sweden last year I was against it. But when I actually did it I thought "This isn't so bad". The way your mind speeds things up, in the last three hundred feet you are waiting for the car to get to the finish line anyway.

Stig Neergaard: I like to go a quarter mile. We have the new burst plate system on both cars. If the burst plate blows then the ignition is cut off and the chutes deploy. It's much cheaper to do that. Are you personally in favour of running to one thousand feet at Alastaro?

Micke Kågered: I am in favour of running to one thousand feet at Alastaro as I don't think the safety level is OK for running the quarter mile. There are no barriers where the speed is at its highest.

Anita Mäkelä: It doesn't matter at all. I'll drive to the finish line.

Andy Carter: I would personally prefer running the quarter mile because the last four hundred feet are loose on the first couple of days. Watching the TV coverage you can see that everyone else is shutting off early. We had an advantage because we always seemed to be able to get the car down the track from the start. It would come round by Sunday, but the braver drivers have lost the advantage.

Stig Neergaard: I don't see any problem with a quarter mile. When Tommy Rostgaard had his problem at the FIA Main Event, it made no difference whether it was one thousand feet or a quarter mile. He needed a mile to stop. Does running to one thousand feet change your set-up or strategy?

Micke Kågered: No, not at all.

Anita Mäkelä: My crew chief Sami will think about the tune-up.

Andy Carter: It does change our strategy but I am not going to tell you what we will be doing!

Stig Neergaard: We will not change the old car. The new car is literally all new so we don't know what changes we will have to make. If NHRA stayed with one thousand feet Top Fuel racing do you think that Europe should follow?

Micke Kågered: Yes, in that case I think we should follow.

Anita Mäkelä: Yes. NHRA has the knowledge, and they will make a decision with that knowledge. If NHRA stays at one thousand feet, we should follow them for the same reasons.

Andy Carter: Definitely. If NHRA stay with one thousand feet then we should do it too. It's the only way a World Championship would be possible.

Stig Neergaard: Personally I would prefer to stay at a quarter mile at all tracks. Maybe it's cheaper but we've never had a problem.

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