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Ida Zetterström continues testing ahead of official NHRA Top Fuel debut

European FIA Top Fuel champion Ida Zetterström took part in a Monday test session in Las Vegas and was rewarded with a personal best elapsed time and speed.
19 Apr 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Ida Zetterstrom

For the second time in as many events, European FIA Top Fuel champion Ida Zetterström took part in a Monday test session following an NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series event. In Las Vegas, Zetterström drove teammate Tony Schumacher’s Okuma dragster and achieved a personal best elapsed time with a 3.740 at more than 329 mph.

“We initially planned to test my car in Las Vegas, but we decided to test Tony’s car instead,” Zetterström explained. “That knocked out two things. It allowed me to get some more seat time, and there were also a few things on Tony’s car that our crew wanted to test. Our goal is to have two cars that are basically the same, so we made progress in that area as well. Now, I’ve driven both of our cars, which are built to be the same, and I’m really comfortable.

“Our first pass was almost a full pull. I shut if off just before the finish line, and we ran 3.740 at 329.80, which are both personal bests for me. The car was really smooth, and I would have been the No. 2 qualifier for the [Las Vegas] race last weekend. Of course, conditions were not the same, but it was still a strong run.”

 Zetterström’s second run resulted in almost instant tire smoke, and later in the day, she returned for an early shut-off run in the 3.8s to conclude the test.

“I’m still getting used to the canopy, but I felt more comfortable this time than the first test in Phoenix,” Zetterström said. “It’s just nice to drive another car, and our team now knows they have two cars that are the same, just in case we need them. I was also able to get some useful data for Tony’s team, which was our main goal. The whole thing is about teamwork.”

 Zetterström has already become familiar to NHRA fans as she’s attended every event so far this season and participates in autograph sessions and other functions as part of the JCM team. She’s often asked about her official debut, and that remains on the schedule for later this summer.

Many fans already know that earlier this year, Zetterström moved from her home in the Alund Islands, located between Sweden and Finland, to Brownsburg, Ind., as she officially joined Joe Maynard’s JCM team.

“A lot of fans are curious, and they say, ‘Well, if you’ve got two cars and you’re out here testing, why don’t you just enter the race?’ That’s a good question, but it’s not that simple,” Zetterström noted. “I feel as though I’m ready, and our crew chiefs are comfortable, but there is still a lot left to do in order for us to run two cars.

“First, we’re building a third car as a back-up. Tony is racing to win the championship, and we need to have another car just in case something was to happen. We’re also building our parts inventory because we want to be ready with a team that can contend from the start.

“Believe me, I’m probably more impatient than any of the fans, but this is all part of the process. I’ve now got six passes in testing, and I’m grateful for the experience. We leaned on the car in Las Vegas. It wasn’t just a matter of pulling back in order to go A to B. That’s good because you learn so much more when you get to feel what the car is doing, if it puts a hole out or spins or whatever. This car reacts a bit differently than the car I raced in Europe, and of course, the tracks are different here as well. We will probably test again [in Indianapolis] before my first race.”

The JCM team has already experienced success this season as eight-time world champion Schumacher won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Phoenix, and he’s currently ranked No. 7 in the Top Fuel standings. JCM driver Joe C. Maynard also won the season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in his Top Alcohol Dragster debut.