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The Roots Of Import Drag Racing

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The Roots Of Import Drag Racing

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of vintage-style drag cars. Gassers, super stocks, funny cars, rails – I dig them all. And not just the V8-powered ones either.

In fact, one of my favorite cars from this year’s Grand National Roadster Show was a VW Beetle built for the quarter mile.

In the ’60s and ’70s, decades before the import drag racing movement, a wave of very quick modified Volkswagens started appearing at drag strips across Southern California, starting a revolution. Dave Galassi’s ’62 rag top Beetle is very much built in the style of those cars.

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Known as Davey and Goliath, the Beetle is a spot-on early VW street/drag machine, with a correct stance and a largely stock body save for a few basic weight savings/aesthetic measures like the shaved bumpers. It’s super clean.

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The interior too is spotless and simple, enough to make you wonder if this is actually a race car. But indeed it is. In fact, Dave was displaying a photo of the VW lifting its front wheels on the start line at Irwindale Dragstrip.

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The coolest aspect of the Beetle might be the acrylic glass decklid which leaves the supercharged flat-four on permanent display. I’m not sure if Dave made this himself or it’s an available aftermarket part, but it’s damn cool either way.

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Combined with period-style hand lettering and a set of old school American Racing mags with Racemaster tires, Dave’s Beetle is a perfect homage to a very important era of air-cooled VW history.

But that’s not all…

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Equally cool was the vehicle the VW was hooked up to: Dave’s ’65 Chevy Nova Wagon. You really couldn’t ask for a cooler, or more period-appropriate tow machine.

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Rather than going the custom route, the Nova has a very factory look, right down to the steel wheels and dog dish hub caps. But look closely and you’ll see cool stuff like the 4-speed stick and 327 badging on the fenders.

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I’m not sure which is cooler – the VW race car or the tow vehicle – but together the pair makes for one of the greatest weekend drag race setups I’ve seen in a long time.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia

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