Ernryd and Lindström. The truth
The 2015 Pro-Stock champion will forever be listed as Thomas Lindström. The team that he won the championship with will equally be listed as Team R/T Ernryd cars. The PS 1 plate for 2016 will be attached to the Dodge Stratus once again, however the title sponsor will now be DK Lyft and the Ernryd cars name will adorn a different car with Ernryd cars owner Stefan Ernryd behind the wheel.
So why does a successful team sponsor step away from a championship winning team? Why would a sponsor want to take his name off the number one car? The off season rumour peddlers want to start a rumour of internal wars, strife and unhappy partners in a team. It is time to relate the truth about this matter, from the mouths of the two people most involved.
Team R/T – which for those that did not know means Roffe and Thomas, the car owners, with a nod to the Road/Track Dodge performance branding – was formed by the owners when Roffe Sulyok and Thomas Lindström first bought their double championship winning Dodge Stratus in 2011. Stefan Ernryd joined the team as sponsor in the same year, when the team finished in 3rd place before landing the championship in 2012 and again in 2015. Over the 5 year relationship there have been ups and downs, there have been races won and races lost, events within the team including marriages and births. It has been a long and successful partnership with plenty of memories along the way, so why should it end?
The answer is simple, Stefan had wanted to drive a Pro Stock car for several years, and made plans over the last two years to get into the driving seat and finalized the purchase of his own car towards the end of 2015, getting his licence in the USA in January 16. Stefan and Thomas had a lot of discussion and planning went into the idea of a 2 car team. A powerful combination of Mopar Pro Stock cars running from a combined logistics double pit seemed an attractive prospect.
But then the questions started to become obvious. What happens to your two car team when one car is leading the championship and has to face his team mate in eliminations? What happens when one car needs a part and the team only have one in the truck, yet it is earmarked for the other car? How does a two car team cope with these eventualities? Followers of Pro Stock might say that all these questions have been raised and answered by the multi car teams in NHRA, but the budgets and schedules for Europe are significantly different. The Top Fuel multi car teams in Europe run as a number of single car entries, they tend not to share parts or crews, and so they function as individuals who just happen to have a shared team structure. Eventually it became apparent that the only way this would work was for Stefan to drive his own car, and the inevitable consequence of this would be the end of the Ernryd cars sponsorship of Team R/T.
“Maybe you can see it a bit like a friendly divorce” says Stefan. “I used to see Thomas nearly every day when we sponsored them, but now I see him a lot less. It doesn’t mean we are no longer friends, it’s just that we have moved on from the owner/sponsor/manager style relationship”. Perhaps Thomas’ campaign slogan for the 2016 season sums it up. “If you are not with us, you are behind us” is the Team R/T slogan for the year, “Ernryd Cars has been a faithful sponsor throughout five great years, but all good things, even this, must come to an end. Team R/T wish Ernryd cars the best of luck in the future” and the Pro Stock class welcome Stefan and look forward to seeing the new car perform.
Text: Ian Hart