Susanne Callin after a break back in Top Fuel action
Seventeen years after her debut in the Top Fuel category and fourteen years after she had her last race in the FIA European Drag Racing Championship, Susanne Callin is back where she wants to be, behind the wheel of a Top Fuel car. At the Festival of Power, Callin made the first test runs to get used to the power again and to be well prepared when the lights turn green at The Main Event, round one of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship. “There is nothing that is even close to the feeling of being in one of those storming cars, which is something I definitely have missed!” said Callin about her fast approaching comeback.
Susanne Callin lives in Stockholm but as she is married to Keith Bartlett, they also have a house in the United Kingdom that she visits frequently. Callin started racing in Junior Dragster at ten years of age in 1994, moved up to Super Comp at 15 years of age in 1999 and then to Top Fuel at 18 in 2002. “I also drove Europe’s first two seat dragster at 17 in 2001 until 2005. A funny story is that I even competed in Super Pro ET at the Finals in 2001 and won the event after I had a crash in my comp car a few days prior,” she remembers.
With her return in the FIA European Top Fuel Championship rapidly approaching, it’s time to get to know a bit more about the driver of Slick Tricks Racing
How did you get involved in drag racing?
My dad and uncle started racing in Sportsman classes when I was very young and I always came with them to the race track from when I was a few years old. My uncle Michael Callin raced in Pro Stock up until a few years back. When I was ten years old the first Jr dragsters were introduced in Sweden and I had a go and took my license at an event I happened to be at and got my first own car very soon after that.
When was your last race?
My last proper FIA competition race was at the Finals in 2005, but I also went to Bahrain for exhibition runs that same year as well as made exhibition match race runs at Midnight Sun Internationals in Piteå, Sweden, in 2006.
What are your best results and where are you most proud of so far in your career?
I never raced the full season but my best result was the 3rd place in the FIA Championship in 2002. I have come runner up but never won an event in Top Fuel. I am not sure what I am most proud of, but running my first 4-second pass and 300 mph at the Finals in 2005 definitely was a major moment. The cars go quicker today and quite often run that speed, but then it was quite an achievement over the full quarter mile.
Why did you stop racing?
I did not have the funding for whole seasons, so I ran at the races we could afford. Then I got pregnant and stopped for natural reasons.
I have had a long break from driving to say the least, but I have always followed the FIA tour around, even when the children were tiny babies and been to all the races. I have missed racing myself, but the timing did not seem right as I would not have been able to concentrate on my driving and race duties with the kids around, but also did not want to leave them at home. Now they are getting older and more independent and even started racing Jr Dragster themselves last year, so it only seemed fair that I get to have some fun too!
How was the feeling to be back in a Top Fuel car at Easter and was it what you expected?
Honestly so was I definitely nervous and a bit worried if I “lost my touch” so to say, but everything slowly started coming back to me. It will take some time to get into the swing of things and I will take things slow to get used to everything again. There is nothing that is even close to the feeling of being in one of those storming cars which is something I definitely have missed!
Which races you will do this season? And is there also a plan for 2020?
I am taking things easy and will only run the two FIA Santa Pod events this year, plus what I did at Easter. There is no real plan for 2020 yet. But first of all I would like to thank the people who have helped me so far to get back into the seat again.
What is the most challenging in driving a Top Fuel car?
The first obvious thing is that you have to get used to the speed and to be able to keep track of what is going and where you are heading. The run may look to be over very quickly and seem nice and straight from the outside, but inside the car so are you getting thrown both here and there and kept very busy. But I would say the most challenging thing is to “be one with the car” since you have no time to think or second guess yourself. Shall I drive through this shake or not? Shall I lift or shall I not? There is no time to think and you have to make a decision and act on it instantly or there might be a big bang, a very costly one! Or if you wrongly make the decision to lift you may have ruined a perfectly good run that could cost you an improved qualifying position or even lose a round.
You have two daughters. They race in Junior Dragster. How old are they and do they go for a career in drag racing?
Lara is 14 and Jacqueline 11. They only started racing last year and have stepped up to quicker engines this year and are learning more and more all the time. Who knows if they will have a career in dragracing, we will have to wait and see what they want to do in the future but so far they love it!