The Finnish line is clear for FIA Top Fuel champion Ida Zetterstrom, who announced her plans to compete in at least five events during the latter half of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, with preparation of her dragster by JCM Racing. After several visits to the United States over the past couple of years, and discussions with teams running nitro classes in the series, Zetterstrom’s pursuit of a seat in NHRA’s Top Fuel division is coming to fruition.
With her goal of running a full-time campaign in 2025, Zetterstrom acknowledged, “This is truly a dream come true. I’ve been working towards this goal for years now, and to have Joe Maynard and the JCM Racing organization recognize my efforts and potential means so much. I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me reach this point, including all the NHRA drivers who have offered tips and guidance.
“The plan – for now – is to run at least five events next year, starting in the second half of the season, but we are actively pursuing partners in hopes of running as many races as possible, as soon as possible,” she revealed. “I’m ready to hit the ground running!” In addition to competing for NHRA Wally winner’s trophies, Zetterstrom will also battle for the 2024 Rookie of the Year honors.
Zetterstrom, now 29, got her racing start in Jr Dragster competition when she was eight years old, before moving to Super Comp at 16. She then effected a change to two wheels, winning a pair of Super Street Bike titles, becoming the first woman to win a class championship, as well as the first to run in the six-second zone. In 2021, Zetterstrom earned her FIA Top Fuel license, on the strength of her quickest-ever licensing run in European drag racing history. A year later, she became the first European Top Fuel racer to dip into the 3.70-second range in 1,000-foot competition. In 2022, Zetterstrom earned her first FIA event victory and finished third in the FIA championship Top Fuel standings.
During the FIA Championship season just ended, she and the RF Motorsport team picked up four event victories, three No. 1 qualifier awards and both ends of the European Top Fuel record for speed and elapsed time. She lost just one round of eliminations during the 2023 season to secure the FIA European championship.
These days it’s a necessity to have a strong traditional media and social media presence, and Ida Zetterstrom has been featured in international publications and podcasts, owing to her more than 200,000 followers who keep up with her on Instagram. In 2022 she was named to Drag Illustrated’s prestigious 30 Under 30 list.
Joe Maynard was impressed by her achievements and realized, “This is a unique opportunity to bring a talented rising star into the world of NHRA drag racing. We’ve followed Ida’s success on and off the track for some time now; she obviously has the skills it takes to excel in Top Fuel. Plus, she understands the importance of social media and how to utilize it to benefit partners. She’s the full package,” he said. “I believe Ida has a bright future in NHRA drag racing, and we’re thrilled that she’s making her US. debut as a member of our JCM Racing organization.”
Zetterstrom is planning to relocate from the Aland Islands of Finland to the Indianapolis area, to be close to the JCM Racing Brownsburg, IN workshops. The team is currently in the process of building a car for her, which she’ll use for pre-season testing at Gainesville Raceway in March 2024. The new team’s crew chief and sponsors will be announced at a later date.
“Ida has been so successful in Europe and now she’s going to compete with the best of the best among the NHRA ranks,” Maynard advised. “She’s obviously committed to the opportunity by moving here. Similarly, we’re committed to providing her with the resources she needs to contend for NHRA Rookie of the Year honors in 2024. And if all goes as planned, she’ll compete for an NHRA Top Fuel championship to go along with her European title, starting in 2025.”
As her JCM Racing team ramps up production of Zetterstrom’s race car, spares and their hauler, the driver will go to school with eight-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, who is her teammate and will be her mentor. “I can’t think of anyone more suited to assist Ida as she transitions from FIA to NHRA competition than Tony,” Maynard concluded.