17-year-old Petteri ‘Boy Racer Finland’ Liimatainen steps up to TMD
Dream big, that’s what Petteri Liimatainen and his family run team do for sure. After a career in Junior Dragster, two trips to the States to obtain his licence, and a rain interrupted very short season in Super Comp/Super Pro ET, 17-year-old ‘Boy Racer Finland’ will step up to FIA European Top Methanol Dragster! “It’s my goal to eventually be able to challenge my childhood hero Timo Habermann, a good friend and mentor,” the young Finnish talent said.
Petteri Liimatainen, ‘Boy Racer Finland’, had just finished his long career racing Junior Dragsters in Finland and abroad, when he turned 16. “It was time for other adventures and my goal was set for a full-scale dragster and an upgraded licence which would eventually enable me to race in the FIA European Championship and the NHRA series in the USA,” Petteri Liimatainen started his story about the next step in his career.
In March 2016 the young Finn travelled to Gainesville, Florida, to attend Frank Hawley´s Drag Racing School to gain his NHRA licence. “He graduated with flying colours. Petteri made six practice runs all approved without fault and had tuition in class preparing the young driver for the mental challenges of the sport. He got a Grade A level 4 ET licence in the summer, making him the first 16-year-old racer outside the US to gain an NHRA licence,” said a proud Petri Liimatainen, Petteri’s dad and crew chief.
“We think that if the racer already has a considerable amount of experience from the Juniors, why should he remain stuck when he has the opportunity to move on to bigger things? Everything we got from the experience at FHDRS continues to encourage us to dream big, to aim for Europe and America even though the Boy is still barely 17 years old,” Petri Liimatainen explains the next step. At Christmas 2016 the team headed back to America for practice and some American bracket racing. Liimatainen made four practice runs at Frank Hawley´s Drag Racing School, mainly to gain runs for the upgrading of his licence, but also to get the feel of the dragster again after a disrupted season in Europe. “There were lots of days spent at the tracks but very few runs, due to extremely poor weather conditions in Europe during the 2016-2017 season,” said the 17-year-old racer. He also participated in the New Year´s Nationals in Adel, Georgia, but instead of a three-day race, the event was cut short by a severe weather warning, thus allowing him to complete only three runs.
“For the coming season we considered the option of starting it with divisional events in the US, racing a Top Dragster. However, after examining the racing calendar for the divisionals, we discovered that the dates were not good for us, and we had to abandon this prospect. Luckily, we then found out that we would be able to race the FIA European Championship over here, as it is possible to participate in the FIA series at the age of 17,” Liimatainen explained.
“Our dragster is a former Dave Wilson ride with methanol engine. Birgitte Bremnes did her TMD licence runs with it a few years ago. It has a best ET of 5.4 seconds at 419 km/h. The dragster has the potential to run 5.3-second ETs, and given some time, the team will also have great potential. We just need a bit of time with each other and the dragster to learn the ropes. Our team consists of our family and a few good friends. All team members have experience in drag racing and have been involved in other motorsports as well,” Liimatainen said.
For this season the team aim to upgrade Petteri’s licence to Top Methanol Dragster and compete in the FIA European Championship. Liimatainen will make his licence runs in May at the Main Event at Santa Pod Raceway, England, and if all goes well, he will also enter the event itself. In the early season the Finnish team will race at the Sweden Internationals at Tierp Arena and their home race, the Nitro Nationals at Alastaro, Finland. “We will attend the first events with a spare engine and aim to move to the faster engine as the season progresses. Late-season events at Hockenheim, Germany, and Tierp in Sweden will be added to our calendar, provided we find adequate outside sponsorship. And if we are leading the series at this point, we will enter the European Finals in England and take the trophy home….,” Petri Liimatainen said with a smile.
“It is our goal to eventually be able to challenge my childhood hero Timo Habermann – a good friend and mentor – in the European series. In time I want to be a major contender in Europe and also race in the NHRA!” said Petteri Liimatainen about his long term plans. So far his best achievements have been the second place in the 2013 International Junior Division and the third place in the 2015 EDRS Juniors. But there will be more to come! “One thing is for sure, when I floor the throttle at Santa Pod, I’ll know what real power is!”