Germany’s Biggest Drag Race: The 2018 NitrOlympX From Hockenheim

Each year the FIA/FIM-e tour, along with Europe’s finest sportsman racers, descend on the world famous Hockenheimring for three days of high-speed action and power at Germany’s biggest drag race, the NitrOlympX. This year’s 33rd running of the event welcomed around 260 teams to compete in nine Pro and eight Sportsman classes on the Rico-Anthes quarter-mile, so named after the founder of the event.

With the help of Santa Pod Raceway’s renowned track crew the racing surface was prepared to perfection, and even with temperatures of around 90 degrees all weekend, the track was able to hold everything that was thrown at it.

On four wheels, father and daughter team, Urs and Jndia Erbacher, lined their Top Fuel dragsters up next to one another and opened the first qualifying session in style with Urs running a slower 4.131 at 266.84 mph to Jndia’s 4.083 at 273.83 mph. Laid-back Englishman Liam Jones went on to win the event setting a new track ET record of 3.882 in the process. Not wanting to miss out on the record-setting, Finland’s Antti Horto claimed the track 1,000-foot speed record at 311.41.

At their home track the Habermann brothers, Timo and Dennis, qualified one and two in Top Methanol. They met in the final with Dennis handing the win to Timo with a red light on the tree. With the top five Pro Mod qualifiers in the five-second zone, it was Micke Gullqvist lining up beside Jan Ericsson in the final, with Micke taking the win. Sweden’s Bengt Ljungdahl red lit in the Pro Stock final resulting in Robin Norén taking his first FIA win in his first final round appearance.

Records were falling in the motorcycle classes, too. Top Fuel Bike racers Filippos Papafilippou and Rikard Gustafsson ran Europe’s quickest and fastest side-by-side pass in Europe — Fil ran a 5.980 and Rikard laid down a 5.918, which also reset track records. Unfortunately, Rikard parted company with his machine in the shutdown area and ended up in the hospital with arm, leg, and internal injuries; he was, however, said to be in good spirits and already planning his return to the track.

Super Twin Bike welcomed world record-holding Takeshi Shigematsu from Japan. Riding a borrowed machine Tak made it to the final round but lost to Marcus Christiansen after suffering mechanical problems. Pro Stock Bike saw British campaigner Alex Hope defeat Karl-Heinz Weikum on a .005 holeshot. In an all-British Super Street Bike final, Graham Balchin took top honors when fellow Brit Rick Stubbins failed to make it to the starting line due to breakage. A new class for the FIM-e series, Junior Drag Bike, saw Lorens Bochnig taking the win from number one qualifier Meggie Talbot.

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For many the highlight of the event is Saturdays ‘Night Show’, and it is exactly that — it’s all about the show. With the grandstands filled to capacity and the atmosphere electric, the proceedings kicked off with the Red Bull FMX show, a death-defying duo performing freestyle motocross stunts high above the track. Then its demos, the louder the better, flames an added bonus. Fuel cars, fuel bikes, Nostalgia Funny Cars, dragsters, jets and the world’s fastest man on two wheels, Eric Teboul, with his low five-second rocket bike, all run under the lights and into the darkness. Fire burnout aficionado Bob Hawkins was also on hand with his pyrotechnic demo followed by the two jet cars of Martin Hill and Gerd ‘King of Fire’ Habermann running side-by-side to close the show.

In addition to the professional classes, there was a full line up of eight Sportsman categories which included Junior Dragster, Competition Eliminator, Funny Bike, and Super Twin Top Gas. With a huge entry and stunning weather, the weekend was action-packed from start to finish and it would be safe to say that the spectators, who themselves set a record for the most ever in attendance, went home happy!

Many thanks to Eurodragster.com for access to race data.

About the author

Julian Hunt

Photographer living close to London South East of England with a Passion for drag racing.
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