Some years of Drag Racing in Europe have more highlights than others. There are years which involve a really dramatic Championship battle; others include memorable side-by-side racing or record-breaking runs.
What also adds storied excitement is when a European team travel to America to race in the NHRA Championships. The USA is the spiritual home of Drag Racing and the NHRA represents the most historical and toughest challenge in the sport, with much larger events, teams and prize money. So it’s always cool to follow the Europeans who decide to go and race out there.
Normally these teams will only go out to the States for an event or two before or after their European schedule and I can only think of a few who have pulled off an event win. It’s always satisfying to those of us on this side of the Atlantic to see these teams go out and prove to the Americans that we also know how to Drag Race!
One such European racer who went out to the USA this year was Sweden’s Jonnie Lindberg in his Top Methanol Funny Car (Top Alcohol Funny Car in the USA). Not only did Lindberg win an NHRA event but he raced there for the entire season and produced this year’s highlight for European Drag Racing with something unprecedented – he became NHRA Champion!
The first time I came across Jonnie Lindberg he was crewing with his Pro Mod team and his brother Johan was the driver. I quickly became aware that they were a good, solid team and within just a couple of years they earned a Championship in that class.
The team stepped up to Top Methanol Funny Car with a two-car team, one driven by Johan and one by Jonnie, and put together some strong seasons that saw both brothers win a European Championship each. Two years ago I watched Jonnie Lindberg run some incredible numbers at Santa Pod that were right up there with some of the best in the world.
They felt confident enough this year to tackle the NHRA and 2015 began perfectly for Lindberg as he won the opening round of the Championship at the Winternationals in Pomona, California. Not long after that he won another national event, the 4Wide Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina. At this event Lindberg ran record-breaking numbers (the first 5.3-second-runs ever in the class), the quickest being a run of 5.361, which certainly seemed to get the attention of everybody and showed that they needed to be taken seriously.
The longer the season went on Lindberg decided as he was still in contention for the title that he and the team would remain in America and fight for the Championship, which culminated back in Pomona at the NHRA Finals. As his rivals lost throughout the day, Jonnie Lindberg reached the final round and had scored enough points for the 2015 NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car Championship. An awesome achievement.
Watching the event on the TV was one of the sporting highlights of my year and seeing a guy who I’ve watched race go and win a Championship on the biggest Drag Racing stage there is was pretty enjoyable. Jonnie Lindberg and his team’s effort should never be underestimated.