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Exclusive interview with Øyvor Jacobsen
On 4th February 2003 our good friends at Svensk Dragracing broke the news that Norwegian Top Fuel Dragster racer Øyvor Jacobsen was to return to to the track after a break of ten years. We spoke to Øyvor in March 2003 and asked her what she had been up to during the break, how her return to Top Fuel came about, and which number plate she is after in her returning season.
Eurodragster: How did you start racing?
Øyvor Jacobsen: My former boyfriend, and still my best friend, Thor Larsen got me into drag racing in the first place. It started in 1985 when he took me around Scandinavia to follow Jon Leret, Svein Gottenberg and Nils Ole Lund amongst others, when they raced their Comp Bikes. Thor bought himself a Pro Stock Bike from Holland in late 1985, but when the 1986 season started he still hadn't got a race licence for bikes. Two weeks before the first race at Mantorp Park, he said "I think you have to ride the bike". It was quite a surprise, but after thinking about it for five minutes I said OK. We had the bike for two years, then bought a new one from USA. I raced the new bike for one year, but had two major crashes, so Thor said "This is getting too expensive, we had better buy a car. At least you won't fall off".
Eurodragster: So you went straight into Top Fuel!
Øyvor Jacobsen: We bought Liv Berstad's Top Fuel Dragster in 1990, and started racing Top Fuel in 1991. We did quite well with a lot of help from Rune Fjeld. We didn't have any sponsors in the first year. In the 1992 season we teamed up with Stuart Vallance and used the McGee engine. We ended up number four in the Championship. We had only £500 (that's right, five hundred pounds) in sponsorship so when the season ended we were broke. The rest of the story you know.
Eurodragster: What did you do after you stopped racing?
Øyvor Jacobsen: Ever since I had to stop racing in 1992, I've been working with the organisers at Gardermoen to improve everything there. I have visited Santa Pod Raceway every September since then, except for 1996 when my daughter was one month old, and I have spectated at several races in USA. As you can see, the drag racing disease hit me hard!
Eurodragster: We understand that you are very deeply involved at Gardermoen.
Øyvor Jacobsen: For the last few years I have worked as Event Director at Gardermoen, working hard to make the FIA round a success. You might not know this, but NDRG is the only FIA round organiser which doesn't emply anyone. We make the FIA round (and several other races) happen with volunteers - no one gets paid a dime, except for timekeeping and safety crews, and a few other things which we have to pay for. At the FIA event we have about two hundred volunteers working! There are about fifteen to twenty people at the top to organise everything. Everyone has day jobs to handle at the same time. Thor has been involved as Clerk of the Course and just about everything else. He is teaming up with us and is going to do the clutch on the car.
Eurodragster: It must have been difficult for you especially at Gardermoen watching racers run four seconds and 300 mph and thinking "That should be me!" ?
Øyvor Jacobsen: Very difficult! The first years I almost cried. But I have always been determined to come back, and that has been one of the reasons why I have been involved in NDRG and Gardermoen Raceway ever since. Rune Fjeld gave me the opportunity to come back now. I'm so happy and I'll see to it that he never will regret his decision.
Eurodragster: What would you say has been the biggest change in Top Fuel since you last raced?
Øyvor Jacobsen: The cars go so much faster! I guess a lot has happened with engines,clutches and fuel set-up as well, but I can't tell you what. I'm only the driver, you know!
Eurodragster: How did your return come about? We understand you tried out the seat of Rune's new car when it arrived, but did it happen at that point or had you been thinking of a return anyway?
Øyvor Jacobsen: After our own race at Gardermoen last year I told Rune that I was determined to drive in 2003. We had a short meeting and decided that we were going to try to make it happen. I 'only' had to find some sponsors (money) first. We have been in contact off and on since then. On 1st February Rune called me and asked if I still wanted to drive, and of course I said YES but I didn't have any contracts yet. He said "Let's go for it anyway, we'll work on it together". We still haven't got any contracts signed, but we are working on it.
Eurodragster: What is your schedule leading up to your return? We understand that you will be racing at the Easter Thunderball.
Øyvor Jacobsen: Since my work schedule is so tight, Drag Racing School is now out of the question. I have to do some training in the car in the workshop and at Santa Pod. I'll make my licencing passes at the Pod on 6th April. The Easter Thunderball will be a good opportunity for me to practice some more before the European Championship starts. I do agree with Anita Mäkelä when she said that it is like riding a bike. When you have learned it, you never forget it. It just takes a little time to get 'into it' again.
Eurodragster: Is there anyone whom you are particularly looking forward to racing this year?
Øyvor Jacobsen: That must be Anita Mäkelä! She is a very good friend, I have known her for years, but never raced her. She is a very good driver and it will be nice to beat her on the finish line (laughs). Micke Kågered will also be a hard nut to crack I think. My biggest problem is that it's been so many years since I raced, so I might be a bit rusty. But I assure you it will wear off.
Eurodragster: Who do you think will be the biggest threat?
Øyvor Jacobsen: Most of the drivers will be a threat! Anita, Micke, Kim Reymond and Tommy Möller I guess are the ones with most experience.
Eurodragster: Which Championship position would you be happy with in your returning year - or is only #1 good enough?
Øyvor Jacobsen: I'm convinced that Rune is the best Crew Chief. I'll do my best to win every time. #1 is what I go for. That would be a nice gift to Rune for giving me the opportunity, and he has his twenty fifth anniversary in drag racing this year.
Eurodragster: What does your daughter think about your return to racing?
Øyvor Jacobsen: When I told her, she said "Oh mum, I will not come and watch you!". I asked her why and she said "Because it's embarrassing!" Why? "Mums don't drive race cars! Dads do!". So I had to tell her about Anita, and then it was OK.
Eurodragster: Have you any sponsors, or anyone else you would like to thank?
Øyvor Jacobsen: I would like to thank Rune for giving me this opportunity to race again. He would not do this if he didn't think that we could make a good team, and it tells me that he believes in me as a driver. I also would like to thank Thor Larsen for being so supportive all these years, and for being with us as clutch man this season.
Eurodragster: Thank you very much for your time, Øyvor, we're all looking forward to seeing you back out there!
Read Svensk Dragracing's interview with Øyvor Jacobsen
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