Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 102

SICK WEEK 2022

SWEDEN ’ S STEFAN GUSTAFSSON TOPS UNLIMITED CLASS TO WIN SICK WEEK

Stefan Gustafsson ’ s quest to finally take an overall win in a drag-and-drive event here in the U . S . began with … love , interestingly enough . The machine that got him started in racing , a 1972 Chevelle , was built for stereo competitions more so than anything else , and its initial 12-second date nights at the track weren ’ t too wild either . But over time , he tweaked it down to the 10s , got the girl , and then fell into a street racing habit shortly thereafter .
Events like Street Week Sweden and the Stockholm Open were training grounds for his eventual debut here in the states at Drag Week , but in the interim , Gustafsson ’ s personal pursuit of faster and faster cars finally put him into track racing – and family circumstances all these decades later made the legal and safety risks a new concern .
“ There ’ s so many cops and so many idiots in the public ,” he signs as a now wiser , stodgier Swede . “ The cops did some aggressive moves on these kinds of events , crushing cars . And a lot of gangs and drugs started to show up , and we wanted to do it because we wanted to be fast , and we were only a part of that scene because we wanted to race street cars , not race cars . Now we rent tracks and go and find out who is the fastest of that day instead of going out to the street .”
Drag-and-drive events have struck a middle ground and challenged him to build his cars in new ways so that they live longer , largely refining the valvetrain and cam profiles to less aggressive combinations .
His current ride , a C4 Corvette , wasn ’ t originally his , either . In fact , they had traded blows in final rounds in the past . The C4 was driven by a friendly rival before Gustafsson purchased it as a roller and re-powered it with its current combo . Turbo failures early in Drag Weeks 2018 and 2019 would prevent the C4 from showing its true potential before the pandemic dashed their plans at redemption for 2020 .
This year , the Corvette still fought them . Despite having set the bar with the quickest E . T . of Day 1 , a stuck oil pressure relief valve caused the motor to push the oil seals out during a cold start while the petroleum sauce was still thick and cold . This dumped milk jugs worth of oil on the ground of their hotel , necessitated pulling the oil pan to slam in a new seal , and they still managed to make a mistake while assembling the oiling system and dumped several more quarts onto the pavement . Minor setbacks aside , the C4 was wickedly quick all week , setting a new personal best for Gustafsson with a 6.64 at 214 mph on Day 1 .
Rick Prospero ’ s infamous 6-second mamba-green 1990 Mazda RX- 7 , Steve Morris ’ reincarnated 1993 Chevy “ Boostmaster ” wagon , along with Mikael Borggren ’ s 1987 Volvo 240 wagon didn ’ t give Gustafsson any margin for error .
Borggren ’ s only 7-second pass of the week at Gainesville would jeopardize his chance at the title , while Morris struggled with teething issues that challenged his ability to sustain his early 6-second passes throughout the
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