The third running of the Kamasa Tools Mechanic Challenge at the Kungsträdgården in the centre of Stockholm was held under warm and sunny skies. This, together with the beauty of Stockholm as a capital city and the prospect of Sweden playing on the second day of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, again drew large crowds and created a holiday atmosphere that was catching. Eurodragster.com were the guests once again of Kamasa Tools, the event organiser.
The four Top Methanol Funny Car teams contesting the 2006 Challenge were:
An additional element of competition was provided by demonstration runs by four Junior Dragsters and a Junior Drag Bike along a specially-created 20.1 metre strip, which was billed as the first drag racing held in the centre of Stockholm.
Additional entertainment was supplied by "Big Toe", the world's largest rideable motorbike, and NGK Spark Plug Changing contest (using hand tools only), hosted by Swedish Radio DJ Loogna, FMX Bike displays and rock band Jug McKenzie. The event was opened by radio personality Jesse Wallin.
The rules of the Mechanic Challenge, which was presided over by long-time Swedish Drag Racing Tech Committee member Ulf Olsson, was run under Cannonball rules. All four teams had two rounds of partially disassembling and reassembling their motors and the aggregate times of both were compared. The fastest two teams then competed in the final.
Each team had gathered up to seven members to work on the cars. One new feature this year is that a member of Martin Lundqvist's team, Tommy J. Nygaard, who teaches at the Vehicle Technical Centre in Ostersund in the automotive school, had four of his students volunteer to work in the teams, following a winter course learning first hand about the mechanics of a Top Methanol Funny Car, using Martin's car as a practical example. Two of these students had joined Jonas Staflund's crew and one each with Ulf Leanders and Martin Lundqvist and, we understand, will be part of these teams' crews at various events this year.
Tommy said "The VTC took over the facilities of the old army technical school two years ago and the automotive school has grown to 180 students this year with 250 forecast for 2006-7 entry. Our programmes include driving, auto, track and racecar mechanic courses". Tommy has been with Martin Lundqvist in drag racing since the early 1990s and his two daughters run Junior Dragsters.
The teams had all undergone preparation and practice for the event. The most noticeable for this was the Staflund Racing team who had used some lateral thinking to overcome the problem of a heavier-than-average 15 kg blower which is needed to be lifted. A three metre long lever had been specially made up and one end of this rested on the roll cage and was attached to the top of the blower by straps. This device was then used by a mechanic standing on the fuel tank to lift the blower once the bolts had been loosened, allowing easy access to the cylinder heads.
The Andréasson team were keen to repeat their win of 2005. Leif said "It will be hard to beat last year's best time of 5' 41" but we will try not to lose". Leif, who is leading the FIA Top Methanol Funny Car Championship after one round, said he has a major announcement to make concerning his team in a few days' time, so stay tuned to Eurodragster.com for this.
Martin Lundqvist said "We practised yesterday and had a best time of 8' 30". If nothing goes wrong, we should be able to do the work in about seven minutes". The team, which is based near Stockholm close to the ferry port for Finland, had a 4:30 am start on the Saturday.
At the signal "Gentlemen, start your engines", uttered by drag racing announcers Christer Abrahamson and Bjorn Sundqvist, all cars fired up and ran their motors for about fifteen seconds. As last year, each team was assigned a referee to ensure the required amount of dismantling took place and that one piston and one rod were cleanly extracted from the motor.
The first round was watched intently by the crowds gathered around each car. The teams each worked furiously in co-ordination to carry out the work. After about seven minutes, in dramatic style, Andréasson Motorsport fired the motor first - but it cut out after only a couple of seconds, less than the required running time; then Staflund Racing fired cleanly after a further twenty seconds, winning the round in 7' 29". Less than ten seconds later, Andréasson Motorsport succeeded in firing for the required time, followed in close succession by Martin Lundqvist's team and finally Ulf Leanders' team.
The times in the first round were as follows:
After the first round, Jonas Staflund said "It was really close and in fact one head got stuck. Our practise time with the new lever for the supercharger was 7'07" and we can make a six minute time if all goes well."
Leif Andréasson said "We are waiting for one power tool to arrive and lost forty seconds turning a bearing by hand. We then didn't squirt enough methanol in the scoop to allow the motor to fire cleanly, but we'll be back."
Martin Lundqvist said "We can improve as we lost a nut and had to search for it, which took a little time". Ulf Leanders said "The cable connection to the back of the starter motor was loose and we had problems getting the starter motor to work. We can fix this for next time."
The teams were allowed about ninety minutes to relax or regroup as necessary and then the process was repeated.
This time, Andréasson Motorsports was faster but needed three attempts before the motor would run the
regulation time, being successful on the third attempt in a faster time of 7' 14". Staflund Racing followed
only half a minute later at 7' 46" and Leanders (10' 36") and Lundqvist (12' 09") successfully completed their
task in turn. After the times were aggregated, the two clear finalists were the favourites Andréasson
Motorsport and the underdog Staflund Racing. The aggregate times were:
The team leaders for the pair of team Velocity Performance Group cars were philosophical about being knocked out. Ulf Leanders said "We got better and and did our best, but it wasn't enough - we had only a little time to get the team to practise together. Martin said "Our team suffered a pushrod that went in the wrong way round which required further disassembly and rebuild before the car could be fired."
Before the final, the two remaining teams took entirely different approaches in the hour's gap. Staflund Racing, buoyed by their quck times, took their motor parts off again in the interval to check that all parts were properly lined up and that the cylinder heads would come off smoothly, whereas team leader Leif Andréasson was concerned that his team were getting over-anxious. He said "We sped up, but I felt that we weren't in control of the situation. So I want the team to relax between these rounds and I have sent them to TGI Friday to have lunch."
The final was tense and the crowd around each car were yelling their encouragement as each team neared completion. However, in the end the result was all Staflund Racing as they improved to an impressive 6' 09" as Andréasson Motorsports suffered a number of problems and recorded no time. Team Staflund were ecstatic at the win, which came as a surprise to many observers, and Andréasson Racing were dejected, as they were in their third final in a row.
Jonas Staflund said "We're really happy to win. We came last in 2005 and first in 2006! We'll be able to live all Summer from this win. It's only our second year in Top Methanol Funny Car after have been NDRS Super Comp Champion in 2004. We had a mixed 2005, running in Scandinavia at Alastaro, Sundsvall, Piteå where we had a top end fire, repairing in time for Mantorp where we had further parts attrition with two blower pops. Our best ET was a 6.08 at Sundsvall where we will be testing next weekend prior to running the same schedule as 2005."
Jonas is aided by crew members Anders Ingelsson (Crew Chief), Per Soderberg, Jan Lundholm, Magnus Nordfeldt, Oskar Hammargren, Tommy Eriksson and "Head of Everything" wife Monica Staflund.
"Thanks go to my sponsors De Walt Power Tools, local ice hockey team Skelleftea (both new this year), Nosjofonster Windows, Tudor Batteries and O'Leary's Bar and Restaurant", said Jonas.
Staflund Racing were the proud recipients of a cheque for €5,000, with €3,000 going to Andreasson Motorsports as runners-up and €1,000 each to the Velocity Performance Group cars.
The Junior Dragster exhibition in the Kungsträdgården was preceded by a static display at the side of the track, which was bordered by plastic barriers that held the crowd back (apart from an errant elderly couple just prior to one of the races). We spoke to Janne Sjöberg, the president of Junior Dragters Racers Federation, the ruling body for the class in Scandinavia. He said "We now have over 100 racers registered and we oversee several Championships on local, national and regional levels. Our three largest championships are the Swedish Dragracing League (SDL), sponsored by Toyo Tyres, which has the most competitors, the Nordic Drag Racing Series (NDRS) and the Scandinavian Dragracing Championship (SDC).
"We are also affiliated to the Swedish Auto Federation, which has enabled us to take steps towards harmonising the rules for 2006, in particular the entry age for both Stock and Modified which now apply from the season in which the relevant age is reached eight for Stock, twelve for Modified).
"Most Junior teams in Scandinavia build their own cars and there is a thriving trade in used cars which are updated as the rules change. The Federation has its own website at www.jdrf.se supported by Maserfrakt, Mickey Thompson Tyres and Preem Oils."
The Junior Dragster exhibition was run on an untimed basis with a functioning Christmas Tree kindly installed by Henrik Karlsson.
The dragsters present were:
Also on display but not racing was the Velocity Performance entry of Kristoffer Kadi, son of Hans Kadi of Ulf Leanders' team.
The racing was run heads-up to the delight of the applauding crowd. There were two eliminations, each with semi-finals, finals and a third/fourth place run-off. The results were:
Also present was the Junior Drag Bike of Alex Eneroth. His father said "There are now at least ten Junior Drag Bikes in Scandinavia, six from Sweden and four from Norway and all ten will be taking part at the Västerås Bike Weekend (a race in the NDRS series for bikes only). Junior Drag Bike information can be found at www.juniordragbike.co.uk (run by our friend Ian "Rush" Carruthers) and www.ajdbrl.com.
A picture gallery of additional shots which we took during the course of the day can be viewed by clicking here.
Eurodragster.com would like to thank the following for their help and hospitality at the 2006 Kamasa Tools Mechanic Challenger: Anna Christell of Kamasa Tools for sponsoring Eurodragster.com, for inviting us to cover the event and for organising our invitation to the After Mech party; Jonas and Sandra Staflund and the Staflund Racing Team, Leif Andréasson, Anders Magnusson and the Andréasson Motorsports Team, Martin Lundqvist, Tommy J. Nygaard, Ulf and Jörgen Leanders and the Velocity Performance Group teams, Christer Abrahamson for accommodation and generous hospitality, Bjorn Sundqvist, and Mats Eriksson, Lena Perés, Lars-Goran "LG" Ericsson and Ludvig Perés for their generous hospitality.
The Kamasa Tools Mechanic Challenge was supported by Suzuki, Auto Experten, Bridgestone Tyres and Rock Klassiker 106.7.
Report and pictures ©Eurodragster.com