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Day 1 images from the 2018 Nitro Olympx

Green light for Jndia Erbacher and her 10,000bhp Monster

Aug 202018

Locked and loaded, 23 year old Jndia Erbacher sits at the wheel of her thundering 10,000bhp Top Fuel Drag car. As the Christmas tree start-lights cycle to green, she punches the throttle, and lights up the car’s massive 18.5 inch-wide rear tyres. Flames and noise crack through the air.

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, she will have reached over 300mph (480km/h), covered a quarter of a mile of asphalt (0.4km), crossed the finish line and deployed two parachutes to help bring her car to a stop.

Thirsty after all that? Under full throttle, her Nitromethane fed dragster swallows just over 42 liters of fuel per second. In context that’s roughly 280 times what an average showerhead sprays out in the same amount of time. After each four-second run on the strip, her car’s engine is stripped down to its component parts. Pistons, supercharger, crankshaft; everything is pulled out – and if necessary – replaced. Top Fuel racing is motorsport at the very extreme edge of performance, but for Jndia it’s a way of life.

Hailing from Basel in Switzerland, she now lines up to race against her father Urs Erbacher - a six time European champion. The family’s workshop workshop in Switzerland houses both Jndia’s and her father’s race cars – making the duo Europe’s first father vs daughter Top Fuel competitors.

Last weekend, Jndia made her debut as a Monster Energy athlete at the 2018 Nitro Olympx at Hockenheim. Clad in black and green she gave new meaning to unleashing the beast; running a personal best time of 4.03 seconds for the quarter mile and a final speed of 479km/h.

“You can’t be afraid of these cars. You have to be ready to hit the throttle of a 10,000bhp drag car.”

Welcome to Monster Energy!

“Thank you! I’m really excited to be working together. It’s awesome to get you guys involved in Drag Racing, especially with our team!”

So be honest, what’s it like launching a 10,000bhp drag car off the line?

“It’s like nothing else in the world. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 0.5 seconds, pulling around 6G. You’re always nervous ahead of a run, because you are sitting on a ticking time bomb. When you drive with Nitromethane fuel you never know what can happen You know what to expect from the car but at the same time the power is always surprising when you hit the throttle. But as soon as you launch off the line – you know straight away; this is why I love drag racing! I don’t know how to describe it – maybe like a bungee jump – it’s such an adrenaline rush. After the run when you get out of the car, your emotions are on such a high, it’s crazy. It’s like all your Christmas, Birthdays, Easter and Holidays all together!”

What does it mean to be fastest woman in Switzerland (and one of the fastest drivers in the world)?

“It was strange in the beginning. I’ve been used to my Dad being in the spotlight as a six time European Champion. When I decided to race there was a lot of pressure because I want to do as well as he has done. I don’t think it’s a title I will get used to, and sometimes I can’t believe it, but it’s really cool! I just want to race and go as fast as possible! My father is almost one of the fastest men on the planet, and now his daughter is almost faster! You have to kick ass or else nobody will take you seriously!”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

“The most important thing is to believe in yourself. Sometimes things don’t always go the way you want them to go. It can be difficult at times, so you have to stay focused and believe in what you want. Don’t listen to what other people say about you, and stay true to yourself. Believe in who you are and try to live your dream! I wake up every morning and ask myself if I’m happy with the way I’m working, and if the answer is yes – which it is – then I continue the way I am. Of course if I say no then I have to change something!”

Have you always wanted to race Top Fuel?

“Actually not always, no. My Dad had started to talk about quitting because he was getting too old. I realized how much I would miss going to the race track, and working with the team. This was the moment I decided to try driving. My Dad of course said no; he said it was too dangerous! I got the sponsorship together without him and said; ok here’s the money, I’m going to Las Vegas to get my drag racing licence, are you coming or not? So he reluctantly agreed, saying that it would be safer if he were there. I’m lucky to have him as an amazing teacher. That was when I was 18. The rest is history! Drag racing for me is family – and I wouldn’t want to do anything else!”


What’s your ultimate goal as a Top Fuel driver?

“My dream is to go to the US and compete in the World Championship. I think it would change the whole story of drag racing if a European girl would go to the states and win a World Championship. This would be a dream to run there for one or two years and fight for a world title.”

Is it an extra challenge competing against your father?

“It’s actually pretty tough – because you want to beat each other for sure. But at the same time it’s special because normally you don’t care about what happens in the other lane. But with my Dad I hope he has a fast and safe run, but I don’t want him to win. It is a little strange because normally my father stays with me when I strap into the car and put my helmet on. He gives me a hug before I jump in – but obviously we can’t do that because he’s already strapped in to his car. These small trigger points are missing when we race each other. The main thing is that we both have fun on track, put in fast times, are safe, and do a good job for all of the team!”

"If I have to choose between a motorcycle and my drag car on the track then I pick my drag car, but for the street, I pick my motorcycle all the time."

What are the unique challenges that you face as a Top Fuel pilot?

“One of the biggest things is to master the reaction time and keep your emotions in check while you are in the cockpit. You can’t be afraid of these cars. You have to be ready to hit the throttle of a 10,000bhp drag car. Staying calm and focused in the starting area is so important. During the run, you have to use all your instincts to keep the car in a straight line. If you think you are drifting to one side, then by the time you think to react it’s already too late. You need to feel what your car is doing through the seat and your ass! Haha! From a technical point of view you need to be aware of what the engine is doing – and to be able to distinguish what is normal and what isn’t. If you have a big explosion obviously you will feel that, but if a cylinder drops out or something more minor you need to get off the throttle to preserve what is left of the engine. It’s important to remember how hard the team work for you too. You have fun for four seconds in the car, and they work like hell for hours to get everything prepared. So I see it as a good challenge to keep my team motivated, and have them understand that I appreciate their hard work!”

How do you prepare for competition away from the drag strip?

“We have a small computer with a simulator to train for the reaction time, but of course it’s never the same. You’re not nervous and just sitting quietly in front of a screen instead of in a racecar on the starting line. When I’m at home I go to the gym as often as I can and walk the dogs. I try to eat healthily too – but that is super tough!”

You ride a motorcycle too?

“Yeah! I have an Indian Scout, and I love it. If I have to choose between a motorcycle and my drag car on the track then I pick my drag car, but for the street, I pick my motorcycle all the time. The feeling of freedom, and the wind on your face while you are on a bike is amazing – it’s like being able to escape from everything!”

Tell fans something they wouldn’t know about you?

“That’s a tough one! My Drag car is called Jasmine; she’s an absolute Monster!”

Where can fans see you race next after Nitro Olympx at Hockenheim?

“We’ll be heading to Santa Pod in the UK on the 8th – 10th September, then after that we will have to see…”