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My 1970 VW's History

By: Craig 04/10/2020

This VW has been in my family since 1975 when I purchased it from the original owner in southern California. Over the years it has been used for daily transportation, off-road exploring, sand drag racing and asphalt drag racing.

Transformation of the car for off-road began in 1976 by adding rear baja-bug fenders and tires. Subsequent exploring of so-Cal's Mojave desert areas, including Yucca Valley, Landers and Lucerne Valley, and western Arizona's back country between Parker and Lake Havasu, including a timed-rally on the old Parker 400 off-road race course, put a lot of dirt miles on the car. While living in Lake Havasu City during this period, I helped create the Havasu Off-Road Racing Association and local sand drag racing which the VW competed in.

Back in so-Cal, a second transformation began in 1981 when my growing work experience at Garrett Turbochargers inspired me to take my VW hobby to a new level. I tried adapting a T3 turbo off a Mercedes diesel. And, I had engine support from my brother-in-law's VW machine shop. Thus began the new life of my "Turbo Baja" bug. In addition to continuing to sand race at Riverside, Fontana and Lake Havasu, I tried running the car in the 1982 Bug-In at Orange County's drag strip. The old diesel turbo helped the VW's 1835cc engine yield a 12-second ET at 103mph in the 1/4-mile; not bad for a street/off-road baja bug.

During the late 80's and early 90's I continued to sparingly experiment with turbocharger and engine combinations while sand racing the car at Glamis, Pismo and San Bernadino's Glen Helen track in between a growing family. Best run at Glen Helen's sand drags was 4.5 seconds at 75mph in the 100 yards with a 600 Holley, TA34 turbo and mild 2276cc engine.

Knowing Glen Helen's sand racing days were numbered, in 1997 I started another transformation of the car into what it is today; a street legal 1/4-mile drag car. By 2001 the car had new front and rear street fiberglass, full roll cage and all the other NHRA safety upgrades. I participated in drag race events at Palmdale, Carlsbad, Banning Airport, Fontana and Pomona tracks including those run by Good Guys, PSCA and NMCA-West during the 2000's. The 1/8-mile Hot VW Drag Day's at Irwindale and Bug-In's at Fontana became my prime focus as the other race events faded away. I also continued to enjoy taking the VW to local car shows around so-Cal.

In 2011 I finally succeeded in getting my NHRA competition license with a 9.9-second 135mph 1/4-mile pass at Fontana using a 750 Holley, TA34R turbo and engine updates by my brother-in-law's VW machine shop.

Another exciting event occurred in 2013 when I got to display my VW at SEMA outside the convention hall entrance on behalf of Garrett Turbos. Later in 2014 I retired from Garrett after 36 years in engineering; moved back to Lake Havasu in 2015; and continue to support Garrett's product line through their distributor here in town, Limit Engineering.

Today the VW is still in race and street condition with more upgrades including a newer GTW3476R turbo, Turbosmart wastegate and engine mods by local machinist, Geoff Hart. It recently won best of show for "race & sports cars" at the 2019 Run-To-The-Sun annual car show here in Lake Havasu City.



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