Would be drag racers can live the Top Fuel dream easier than ever before through a training and rental program offered by four-time FIA champ Urs Erbacher and crew chief Wayne Dupuy.
In an effort to raise funding for their race team so they can remain on the NHRA tour for the entire 2009 season, Erbacher and Dupuy will teach clients the intricacies of piloting an 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster, get them licensed, and turn them loose at an NHRA national event.
"We think there's a group of people out there, maybe competing at a lower level of drag racing or some other form of motorsports, that have always wondered what it's like to drive a Top Fuel dragster, even if it's just for one race," Dupuy said. "This is their chance."
Prospective racers will take control of Erbacher's back-up dragster, which posted competitive 3.8s at 310 mph last season. They'll be trained for as long as necessary at the team's stateside shop, which is next to Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, and will have the services of Erbacher's championship-winning crew. As soon as they are licensed, they'll be entered in a national event as a teammate to Erbacher.
"They'll get the full experience, for one race, two races, whatever they want to do," Dupuy said. "We want these people to have fun and experience something they'll never forget. At the same time, we're going to be very, very careful with them. Safety will always be the top priority.
"I've been drag racing my entire life and everywhere you go people always say they would give anything to drive a dragster. If they're serious, we're going to give them that chance."
The team already has signed up one client, German Super Comp racer Jens Riehl, a seven-year veteran on the European tour who is selling his entire operation to realize this longtime goal.
"I got my first impression of drag racing by visiting Mantorp Park in Sweden with my brother in the late '80s and since then I have always been dreaming about Top Fuel," Riehl said. "There have been many successes in Super Comp but this new challenge will become the absolutely highlight.
"If everything fits, we're planning to do the licensing a day after the Las Vegas event. I like the way Team Erbacher shows how professional a European Top Fuel team can demonstrate in the U.S. He is showing that we are very competitive over here. It's a big honor for me to get the chance to work together with this great team. Germany has no Top Fuel racers at the moment so this is the time to jump into the battle."
Dupuy and Erbacher are still working out the exact cost of the experience but expect it to be affordable, even by nitro racing standards.
"Every time you run a car down the track you're spending 'X' amount of dollars, whether it's during licensing or a race," Dupuy said. "You can't put one price on this deal because maybe one guy will need 10 passes to feel comfortable, while another guy might need 20. It's going to be an individual, case-by-case deal.
"I do know we've become real good at running the car as efficiently as possible. We're going to give our clients a safe, competitive racecar that can qualify for a national event and win some rounds. For some people, that's priceless."
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