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BUGGIN’ OUT!
Scenes from Hot VWs Drag Day

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Mar 18, 2014

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Cars line up to race at Hot VWs Drag Day (Sean Spear)

THE ELEVENTH HOT VWs DRAG DAY Words and pictures by Sean Spear Irwindale, California—The warm weather on Sunday brought out not only the Bugs, but also all sorts of critters to the Irwindale Event Center. Rabbits and even the occasional Thing were seen either soaking up the sun or scurrying down the quarter-mile drag strip at sub-six second speeds. Microbuses, Karmans, Fastbacks, and Coupes were also hard not to miss.

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Members of German Folks at Hot VWs Drag Days (Sean Spear)

With 113 Racers, over 300 “Show & Shine” cars, and nearly 2,000 Spectators, one would think that Drag Day has been a reliable event for the VW crowd year in and year out. But the event has had to repeatedly adjust to changing times since it was first held in 1974. As Rich Kimball of the event presenters Periscope Enterprises describes it, “Drag Day started off as an off-shoot of ‘Bug-In’, our main event we had been holding since 1968. I went from an 18 year old parking cars and directing traffic at that first get-together, to eventually being the General Manager today.” Back then, Bug-In members were mostly high school aged plus, and were just looking for the chance to show-off their Bugs and Dune Buggys. “We set up Drag Day for those guys that wanted to race. Having the event at the old Orange County Raceway was really their only opportunity to go all-out without having to worry about the cops getting you.”

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Volkswagen Microbus at Hot VWs Drag Day (Sean Spear)

Host” said Kimball. While a third show, the VW Classic, continued, both Bug-In and Drag Day went dark for nearly 20 years. With the opening of the Irwindale Raceway, and later the Fontana Raceway, both events were revived in 2002 and 2005, respectively. “We were pretty much the same guys, but older and with families. Really, the VW culture had changed too. There are now less [Dune] Buggys and current models, and more vintage, custom, and hopped-up racing cars. Between the races, the club member show-off areas, and the swap meet, we may all have different reasons for coming, but we’re all VW enthusiasts.”

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One of many Karmann Ghias (Sean Spear)

Reuben Navarro, founding father of the “German Folks” VW club describes today's Drag Day as “…a chance for all of us to get together, hang-out, talk sh*t. You know, like family.” German Folks started more than 33 years ago with 15 guys, and now has chapters in Arizona, Texas, the UK, and Japan. “We’re not one of those clubs with all those rules and dues and mandatory stuff. My Dad gave me his VW as my first car. After I took a break from the club for a while, my Mom and Dad asked me to come back in. It is really a family thing with us. It’s deep.” While all of German Folks’ VWs were spectacular, a beautiful ’65 21-window Microbus demanded the most attention.

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Drag racing at Hot VWs Drag Day in Irwindale (Sean Spear)

Over at the races, spectators’ jaws dropped when they saw another Microbus do a burnout and speed down the strip. Even some water-cooled models made their presence felt (taking one of the six racing trophies won that day). But in the end it was the air-cooled marvels that dominated the field and strip. LA Car’s camera was able to catch a few before they got away. [nggallery id=hotvws2014]

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