My pick for Racer of the Week is Kirsten van Croonenborgh, from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Kirsten was recommended to me by our friend and the admin of the Supercharged Outlaws UK group, Andy Fadster. Thanks, Andy!
Kirsten got involved with drag racing in 2011, as back up girl for a nostalgia funny car. In 2012 she made her first runs on the strip in her Barracuda street car (which had a 340 engine and made 13.8 second runs) and immediately got hooked on driving a drag race car herself. Kirsten’s husband wanted her to race a proper race car with more safety measures, so in December 2012 they bought a ‘Cuda race car from Sweden. They replaced its engine with a 500 ci blown Indy engine (440 wedge model, running on racing gas), updated the chassis to the current SFI specs and started racing it. David from Priceless Paint gave the orange Cuda a lovely seventies paint job, with turquoise flowers and purple sparkles. Kirsten is very fond of seventies music, so she decided to call her girly car after the song of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
With SuzyQ running on race gas they managed to make 9.0 second runs. After a few years of happy racing they decided to shift to methanol in 2017, the two Demon carburetors were replaced by an Enderle mechanical injection system.
The current specs for SuzyQ are:
1970 Plymouth Barracuda
Steel body. Polyester nose, doors, hood and trunk lid
It makes 1300 hp with a 500 ci Indy engine, running on methanol
It has an 8-71 Blower by The Blower Shop
It runs a 727 Transmission by A&A Transmission
A Ford 9" rear axle, 3.89 differential
The paint is by Priceless Paint
She is sponsored by Noviol with Kendall Oil
Also sponsored by Roltrex Cargo Broker
Her fastest ET is 8.29 seconds at the 1/4 mile, with 169 mph top speed
The fastest 60ft time is 1.18 seconds
Kirsten’s goals with SuzyQ are to keep having fun with her team members, a bunch of great guys who always support her racing antics. She said it would be great to get to a 7.9 second run with SuzyQ, so they will try to achieve that in 2020. They installed a Racepak to acquire the necessary data and are making plans to install a different gearbox during the winter. For 2021, she’s planning on a big thing to come up with, but she can't say anything about that yet until every little piece of the puzzle has fallen into its place. But she has assured me, it's going to be good! She told me about it, and I agree, it’s going to be an awesome project! Stay tuned!￼
Kirsten told me that Drag Racing is a special, colourful little world with a lot of great people in it. Throughout the years she has met so many lovely people and acquired a lot of new friends. It's often hard to explain to people "on the outside" why Drag Racing is such an addictive sport. Of course it's the speed, the great sound of a roaring V8 engine, as well as the challenge of making that perfect run, each and every single time. But it's also a bonding experience. It's great to spend time with a bunch of guys that she’s honoured to call "my team", as well as meeting other racers, their team members, and all the people who enjoy to visit events and watch the racing. She absolutely loves it and wouldn't want to miss it for anything!
Kirsten said there are so many people that make it possible for her to race. The first and most important of them is her husband Henk, who is always enthusiastic for her racing and supports her wherever he can. She thanks her mechanic/crew chief Ted, and all her other team members. Her sponsors Noviol Oil and Roltrex Cargo Brokers have never let her down. A special mention goes out to Post and Dros Racing Engines and Parts, who always give Kirsten a lot of support to keep the engine of SuzyQ well and running. And last but not least Dick Koster from Racepak Europe, who never hesitates to help her out with advice.
The website is www.suzyQdragracing.com
People can also find her on Instagram (@kirsten_suzyq) and Facebook
She is very happy to race with the Supercharged Outlaws in the UK.
Her biggest overall Drag Racing goal is to race in the United States someday.
Kirsten lives in a countryside-like area, where they have enough room to store a few American classic cars, as well as a nice bunch of animals, which she loves to bits. Kirsten has been seriously hearing impaired from the age of three years, which meant that she always had to wear hearing devices. In 2011 she was approved to receive a cochlear implant, and she said that surgery changed her life for the better in so many ways. For the first time in her life she was actually able to follow conversations and have a social life that wasn't so frustrating. She does have to admit that her hearing impaired life has taught her something useful as well: She’s able to do lipreading. This means that when she’s strapped into her happy seat (which means in SuzyQ) and her helmet is on her head, she can still follow what her crew chief is saying to her. He is simply talking to her from the outside of the car and she can read on his lips what he is saying to her. But since he is also actually speaking as well, it has often surprised the people in the line up. "Why is that guy talking to a car?!" This is often hilarious and an inside joke of Kirsten’s team. When they want to fool her, they cover their mouths with their hands while talking to each other, which is the best way to hide something from her!
Kirsten studied Biology at University, so she doesn't have a mechanical background or education. Yet, she loves to work on SuzyQ and her crew chief Ted has been teaching her a lot during the last three years. She said it's great to not only race her own car, but also be able to actually work on it. She loves it, and she can't wait to learn more. It's funny how something can work out that way, and how her love for Drag Racing has learned her to wrench on a supercharged methanol doorslammer car.
Kirsten, thank you for sharing your story with us. It was inspiring to read. We wish you and the Suzy Q team good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!