This was our vacation in 2008.
This is the way we transported and drove our Impalas to get to the two drag races in Piteå and Fällfors
in North of Sweden - Norrland. And this is the way we travelled and lived in our Solifer caravan, at the
races and in between. This is also the Swedish adventure of our guest Karl Ellwein from Maryland USA
and it's mostly because of that I have made this story for all of us to remember for years to come.
Tour sponsored by
Chris Condor.. -.. Sören "Fixarn" Fjällstedt.. - ..Thomas Öhman
NSA-Företagen.. -.. Autoshop.. -.. Nordtrafik
You can always follow our tour while reading about it, by clicking
this map to get a large one.
July 7 - Lift off from Gothenburg...sort of.
Pack'em and load'em. Our Impalas were going by train from Gothenburg to Umeå in the North. So we
filled them with as much as possible.
Sören "Fixarn" drove Karl's car to the harbour where the train loading is located. It was a nice cruise
with these two heavy hitters rumbling together.
The two wolfs parked among sheep. Waiting to be loaded on a car car (hahaha). The freight train will
take two days before it arrives in Umeå. We planned to be there before train arrival to help unloading.
Train transport was absolutely a cool thing that "Fixarn" and Nordtrafik pulled off for us! We first thought
it should be done with truck and trailer. Surprise! Sören is always taking pictures of his businesses.
Then back home to get all the other stuff. The Bolero tomato had to follow, I didn't want to miss anything
when it was growing up. But we had him in the restroom if the caravan.
Loaded and ready to go North! Towards the Midnight Sun!
"Clink-eti clink-eti clink!!" Engine failure of some sort. No nice sounds. We had to stop in Alingsås, only
32 km from Gothenburg, 1 % of our planned Tour length! Started to think about what to do tomorrow.
Axel, shall we play John Lee Hooker? He'll understand our feelings.
Lucky us that we at least had some good music! This is Axel on our CD "Best Of Chicago Blues"
Really good blues harmonica by Axel!
Nice view on our first vacation night..
July 8 - Back to Gothenburg...
At least it was fun to get a custom painted 4-axled tow truck!
I thought the trio on the left were some country artists, but it were the owners.
Live television of the dead Dodge. Not fun.
Going in the wrong direction.
Karl landed in Helsinki and was taken care of by Eero Pirttinen who immediately handed him a small
wellknown finnish souvenir - Koskenkorva! Because of Eero's t-shirt they found out real quick that both
of them were rock guitar suckers. Too.
Eero then showed his workplace at US Parts for the American guest Karl who again could see with his
own eyes that American cars is big business in all Nordic countries. After some beers at the Spårakoff
trick in downtown Helsinki (no pictures taken!!) it was dinner with Eero and his family, wife Helena
and daughter Nea, at Cantina West, a Mexican restaurant.
Back inside the Dodge 3.8 L V6 engine in Gothenburg. We hoped that it was only the rocker axle that
had self-loosened which is said to be quite common? No, it looked too good for that. It was deeper
inside. We had to park our dear Dodge and hire something with a hitch and we called Sören "Fixarn"
so he could help us. Time was tight! But no rental cars with hitch to be found in the whole world!
Thriller team member Dick Koning heard about the ordeal and offered us to borrow his work-mate, a
Toyota Hilux turbo diesel which had a hitch! As a compensation we rented a new Toyota for him for 14
days so he could still work with his carpentry. He didn't need a hitch. We did. Since we were occupied
in re-packing all our things "Fixarn" took care of the renting detail. What are friends for?
Thanks Dick and Sören!
Were there room on the Toyota for all the stuff from the Dodge minivan? Yes, when we also filled the
seats inside with things. When back in Alingsås we could throw a lot of this into the caravan anyway.
Now, Back On Track! Beep beep! Wroom!
It was because of the flight deal Karl first visited Finland for one night when going to Umeå in Sweden
and in that deal he had that night in a luxury hotel - Hilton Helsinki Strand. To the right his view at 4 AM
on July 9th. Karl: "It was the very best morning breakfast. It had fresh salmon and all kinds of wonderful
things. It was set in a very stylish and spacious location in the hotel lobby with view of the harbor and
the passenger/cruise ships". Thanks Eero and family for taking care of Karl!
July 9 - On the road already
Dick's Toyota was Fantastic! Strong and well balanced. After we picked up the Solifer in Alingsås around
9 PM we wanted to haul ass. After all we were one day late. This picture was taken around 2 AM when
we were entering the light night from the dark night.
Just aim for the light when you search for Norrland in the summer nights. Roads are clear but look
out for different night active animals like deer, moose, other tourists, bear, hackers and wolf.
3.00 AM arrival at Tärnsjö resting area, a truckstop. This was our camp for the second night, a little
better than last night behind the gas station, and no rain. But cold as #€&@/ so I had only one (1) well
deserved birra explosivo. From here only 66 km (41 miles) to Gävle city and - Norrland!
6 hours later, what a beautiful morning! The sun was warming your cold back while you were served the
cowboy breakfast (it would have been a Santa Pod breakfast if added two fried eggs). Then some water
to my special Bolero Tomato plant that I just had to bring with me so I shouldn't miss anything that
might happen with it during these two weeks away!? After brushing the teeth it was off to Norrland!
9.23 AM somewhere in Finland. Karl missed his flight from Helsinki to Vaasa even though he was up
with the sun! It happened because the decoding the info of the tickets was too difficult. Karl rushed to
rent a small car and began to drive north (and passed close to Alastaro Dragstrip without knowing it,
check The Nordic Map again).
This also meant that he had to re-schedule his trip from Vaasa to Umeå, to take the next day ferry. Both
Karl and we now was one day late! Good! =) From what Karl saw from his rental car he thought Finland
was very nice and he remembered the landscapes from when he was young in Michigan.
First stop was at Tönnebro truckstop and it was the very first time in Norrland for Axel.
After less than an hour drive we arrived at the "Fyrklövern" (four-leaf clover) street kitchen in Iggesund.
In 1972 I accidently ordered 'bostic' hacked cucumber instead of 'boston' to my burger here (it was
much smaller then, just a kiosk) and that splutter changed my life forever... I was only 16 and had paid
for a seat in Per Westin's 1968 Firebird 400 to follow him and his friends to a drag race at Anderstorp in
Småland in the south. I was to visit my first drag race. And the big boys gave me Eau de Vie conjac
and Coca Cola! And they called me "Bostic" all weekend after this and I thought it would go away, but
it didn't, and when I started to be the Editor for the "Brinnuten" (burnout) SHRA-Umeå club magazine
I frankly used "Bostic" as a pseudonym. And also later when writing for the nationwide magazines
like Colorod, Dragstrip and Bilsport. And I'm still using it decades later. Hacked cucumber...jeez!
15 minutes on the road:
Next stop Sundsvall and their Sports hall, which was decorated in the late 60's by famous Swedish
artist Pierre Olofsson "Men of 47". This spit-art is called "Play with Balls". However, to his help he
had my brothers Björn and Sune who worked for him now and then between studies.
Härnösand. Vårdkasen. Our dear mother Birgit Envall was from here, born in 1919. And she was also
buried here in 2006. My mother's grand daddy Pehr Johan Hoffring was a famous engineer and inventor
in the end of the 1900th century and beginnig of the 2000th, and he put up the electrical street lighting
in Härnösand as the first city in Sweden! Not long after the first cities in the world and with the
largest generator in Europe which he built himself.
Actually, his generator was built on a creek not far from where this picture was taken on E4, in to the left
here somewhere. And his long time expensive experimenting on the Perpetuum Mobile is still displayed
on the Technical Museum in Stockholm. Click link to see one of his models.
Local soft thinbread is found in almost every town in Norrland. Unbelievable tasty! And of course (?)
Surströmming, the infamous fermented fish that is loved by many - or hated because of its smell that is
felt blocks away! They say it's wonderful to eat even because the smell. Agneta and Axel love it,
while I'm a fresh fish guy.... Will Karl love or hate it?
Högakustenbron - "High Coast Bridge" - hanging over the big Ångermanälven river. The total length is
1,867 metres (6,125 ft), the span is 1,210 metres (3,970 ft), and the column pillars are 180 metres
(591 ft) tall. The max height for ships is 40 metres (131 ft). Live picture: www.hogakustenbron.nu
The stories of the cave in the Skule mountain fascinated me when I was little. How the villains in the
cave were watching for incoming stagecoaches from far away, to stop and rob. The leader's name was
Skule according to the legend.
I can't dream of walking up there, even if I know the view over the High Coast must be breathtaking!
Karl arrived in Vaasa and to the Tobbe Ekström and Anna's parents idyllic house in the archipelago.
Karl was invited to stay overnight because he missed today's last ferry to Umeå.
Since Karl was late they missed the opportunity to follow the original plan to take a boat out to that
famous seafood restaurant out in the archipelago. Instead they went to a... Mexican restaurant? Again?
Like with Eero's family yesterday!? Karl must think that Finland is full of Mexican restaurants? =)
Daughter Chevelle, daddy Tobbe, Karl and son Kjell Ekström. Mom Anna took the picture.
Sauna! This is what the Finnish people are world champions on. "I'm just a guy from Maryland, why
must I jump into this cold water on the North Pole?" Karl actually loved the sauna and the cold dive
(at least afterwards) "It made me feel fresh, bright and strong" But I wonder, wasn't that the beer...?
Dear ol' Umeå! My hometown, lived here for 30 years. My heart did an extra beat when driving over the
Tegsbron into this silent light city. So many memories!
11.40 PM Västerslätt in the Northeast part of Umeå. Thomas Öhman had prepared for our arrival, he
had opened his fence so we could drive into his garden and park! Camp Öhman!
Here we could hook up our electricity to his house. Bolero tomato had to sleep outside for his cold
training. We slept in the camper but had our showers in the house and also had the breakfast with the
Öhman family. A very good stay. Thanks Öhmans!
July 10 - reloading the Impalas
06.55 AM. Bolero survived the night in Umeå and got just a bit tougher of it! Now time to retrieve the
Impala's from the train! At the railway depot Axel met a new friend in Erik Axroth who likes to follow
Thomas on different manly missions, like this one. Thomas went earlier to get Erik.
07.20 AM. Just waiting for them drive on-off professionals to come and start unloading. It's perfect that
you can send your car by train. Many years ago the SJ railway company had a campaign in trying to get
the people to drive aboard their cars on a public train and go with the same train, but it wasn't a hit.
This transport is strictly commercial, mostly with new dealer cars.
Perfect! Karl's Impala SS was first to be backed off. You see it's roomy. But where is mine...?
Ok, in the next car, so it had to be backed through the car behind. I told the professionals that I'll drive it
off the train myself because im so used to it! Blackout was so loaded in the backseat that I couldn't look
out via the rear view mirror. I had one man in the front pointing how I should drive and one man in the
back pointing. Both were shouting loudly but I couldn't hear them. My head was spinning! And it was not
as wide in the transfer in between, as in the cars themselves, so...KNIRP! Left rear view mirror down....
Well, now the professionals at least had a real good story to tell for generations to come!
The only damage on this transport was my own. So unnecessary! Then Thomas took Karl's SS and had
two happy boys with him. Well, that makes three happy boys. Thomas loved to drive this Impala SS!
A cool thing!
Ignited by starter Lasse "Jälava" Peltomaa, the first final in Umeå's street race for the T-shirt was away!
This was a typical 16 car ladder race. Inge Hägglund 1965 Chevy Malibu 331ci took the start but lost
this 1/8-miler to Lennart "Bagarn" Bergqvist 1966 Chevy Nova 350 and we had our first winner. Bumpy
but straight industrial road Spårvägen at Västerslätt was the scene for this classic race which inspired
streetracers all over Sweden to organize their own streetraces with a Winner's T-shirt to show for it.
30 years later we placed Karl Ellwein's Heavy Eliminator on the same spot where Bagarn raced.
Karl entered the not-so-beautiful-well-it's-awful-and-not-entertaining-at-all-ferry in Vaasa in the middle of
the day and began his sail over the Gulf of Bothnia. After a couple of hours of boredom (I don't know?
I didn't ask him about it?) he once again entered Sweden and this was the first time from the sea.
He first saw the wind mills in Umeå Harbour in Holmsund where he was picked up by
Kent and Rose-Marie and driven to Umeå...
...and to Stilservice, Stig "Loppan" Larsson's very special speedshop which also serves as a café and
restaurant with Stig himself as a chef! Karl found a guitar to play and "Fjuppe" listened. "Fjuppe" is a
Swedish Champion in black powder gun shooting. Sorry, I missed to take photo of "Loppan"!
Karl and I actually planned to drive our Impalas to Piteå but Thomas said "No way!" and offered us a
transport in this truck and trailer! He even worked a couple of days on his vacation to be able to borrow
this humongous 24 meter / 79 foot rig which felt like a pro transport for a Top Fuel or a Funny Car team!
Totally insane but a wonderful service!
Karl said: "That transport tandem trailer was so cool. That was the biggest and best transport of
sportsman racers of all time". Thanks Thomas Öhman and the NSA-Företagen! (NSA-Companies)
Good loading place. At this moment we didn't know if there were any simliar ramp at the Pite Dragway
racetrack/airfield! We could just hope for it.
Thomas son Sebastian works at DHL and helped us in driving all spare parts, and was also helpful in
securing the cars. Everybody was so helpful on our Norrland or Bust Tour! When our heavy Impala SS
cars were loaded we still had free space for 32 tonnes (metric ton) / 70548 lb more to load!
Karl saw for the first time "King of Spades" the ERE # 9 383 he built for Kent mounted in the car. This
was just outside where Kent lives and the Impala was already loaded on the trailer.
Ola Åbergh and family also came bye with their 1996 DCM Impala SS and we began our jawboning in
getting Ola to enter the races in Piteå and Fällfors too! From the left: David, Jaana, Kent, Agneta, Ola
holding Amanda, Victor and Karl.
Then we came to Piteå:
The second leg of this three-leg trip - done the week between the races in Piteå and Fällfors - will show
you how we drove north above the Arctic Circle up to Kiruna, Jukkasjärvi and south again via
Finland, Kukkolaforsen, Haparanda...click bar below