DI Interview: Aspiring FIA Top Fuel Driver Ida Zetterström

Ida Zetterström is a name you should remember. She’s a young, ambitious woman from Aland Islands, Finland, on a mission to become a household name in Top Fuel racing. Zetterström started racing at age 8 in the Jr. Dragster class and earned her Super Comp license at the age of 16.

But the fearless woman from Aland didn’t stopped there and started to race in the European Super Street Bike Series from 2017 on. Just two years later she took home the Scandinavian championship trophy only to became the first-ever woman to run in the 6-second zone one year later.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #172, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in November of 2021.]

But Zetterström is still hungry for more and still chasing her ultimate goal: to compete in FIA Top Fuel. We sat down with her at England’s Santa Pod Raceway during the European Finals Shootout just before her second licensing attempt to talk with her about her career and the near future.

What sparked your interest in drag racing?

I’ve been at the track since I was 3 weeks old. My dad has always raced or crewed for teams or just been around racing events, so I was kind of born into it. My sister was too, but she didn’t get the same spark for it as I did. I always looked up to the drivers racing in the real fast classes and always had a thing for speed and adrenaline. So really early I wanted to run Jr. Dragster when it was possible. My dad built me one and we started racing when I was 8 years old. I loved it and always wanted to go faster and faster.

You’re looking at quite a career on two wheels already. What made you think of making the switch to Top Fuel?

Top Fuel always has been the dream for me since started racing Jr. Dragster and still after getting my Super Comp license. But then along the way when I met my boyfriend who was racing bikes, I got into the bike scene. I loved it immediately and we had great years racing in that category. But this has always still been the dream. So when we felt that the time was right, we said, “Let’s give it two more years on the bike and then we try to pursue this,” and we’re really happy with it.

So will you race in two categories in 2022?

I feel that’s not really fair to myself or my crew not to focus 100% on [Top Fuel] because I can’t do two classes at the same time on that level while I’m not yet that experienced in the Top Fuel class. And it doesn’t feel right to have the bike sitting for a few years because it really is one of the best bikes in Europe and a strong contender for the championship. That might not be the case after you leave it in the garage. So it should definitely be out there fighting for a championship. I’d just love it if someone takes it over and races it for a championship while I’m going full out on Top Fuel.

Could you tell me about the current status of your Top Fuel licensing?

At the Bug Jam event at Santa Pod I managed to do all runs to get the license except for the full passes. I had to abort one attempt due to tire shake and the second one couldn’t happen due to a rainout. But one eighth-mile run with a 4.11 was good enough to count for the first full run. So I’m allowed to attempt my second full run in competition here at the Euro Finals.

What are your plans after you’ve obtained your Top Fuel license?

Our plan is to run the full European season in 2022 together with Rune Fjeld Motorsports. Me and my crew all excited and already started to plan for next season. That’s the first step and then of course we have long-term goals also. But that’s where we the start and I’ve got to have a lot of seat time and passes first to get a hang of it. There is no other way to learn and evolve your driving skills. So I’ll take next year as a learning curve and make as many quick runs as I can.

Thank you so much for the interview and best of luck for the 2022 season!

Zetterström went on to obtain her license with the quickest licensing pass ever in Europe, a 3.862, the very next day and even took home the event trophy. She will race the full 2022 European schedule with Rune Fjeld Motorsports while eyeing her next big goal: racing in NHRA Top Fuel.

 

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