The Plan

A wise man once told me "plan your work, then work your plan." I have tried to live my life by this advice for the past twenty plus years and it has served me well when I have actually followed it. Unfortunately with this particular project, there were, in fact, several deviations from "The Plan."
The plan was to do a "Resto-Custom" Karmann Ghia, that we could bracket race in the street legal class and make it competitive, fun and relatively easy on parts. It was to be a 13-14 second car, running on street tires, in a full street trim configuration, that would show well at car shows. This meant full interior with stereo, nice paint, full bumpers and exterior trim. The Works.

Our 72 Ghia was to be the platform for this project. It was in basically good shape. We had done a surface restoration it a few years before. The biggest problem with it was that the body and paint weren't very good. We had done some superficial body work on it and applied paint in our garage. The car had been hit in the front before we owned it and the nose was tweaked a bit, and I wanted to find a donor car for a front clip. We acquired a 1965 Karmann Ghia in August of 1998 for this purpose.

We found the '65 through a friend who told us about this Ghia that wasn't running and was for sale. He was going to furnish us with the phone number of the gal who had it. Several weeks passed till we saw our friend again. He had the number and told us she had the car listed for sale in the classified ads of the local newspaper. It took a few attempts to reach her. Finally successful, we went to see the car. It was in a pretty sad state, but everything was there and it appeared to be very straight. We made her an offer, and trailered the car home the following weekend.

The body looked good, the interior was totally rotted out. It ran but had no brakes and a broken throttle cable. After some thought, we decided instead of cutting this car up to make the other one right, we would restore this one and send the 72 down the road. After all, this was a much more desirable year, with the over rider bumpers and small tail lights. We did, however, keep the 72 anyway and it ultimately ended up giving it's life to teach knuckleheaded boys how to drive.

The 65 was then completely disassembled. The chassis was cleaned and powder coated gloss black, the front beam was narrowed and a drop spindle, disc brake conversion from CB Performance was added. Urethane rear control arm bushing were installed to control wheelhop on drag race type launches. 10/90 Carrera front shocks for maximum weight transfer, and urethane suspension stops in front.

Since we were planning on street tires, a Pro Street style tranny seemed to be the way to go. Transform in Long Beach was contacted and a close ratio box with a 4.37 ring and pinion, heavy duty side cover, super diff, super beetle mainshaft and steel shift forks was delivered.

In the meantime, parts were collected for a 2165 featuring a CB Performance Stroker crank and race rod engine kit, Magnum straight cut timing gears, 94mm Mahle Piston kit, 40IDF Webers, etc. The shortblock was preassembled to check measurements, clearances, and the fit of the parts, etc.

Getting back to the body, we did a trade with a local body shop, who needed some illustration work done in exchange for getting the car painted. Work was postponed on the motor so we could focus on getting the body prepped for paint. The next two months were spent stripping the body to bare metal (5 previous paint jobs worth) the previous body work touched up and then the body was delivered to the body shop. The result is another story all by itself. Initially, it looked good, but started to show signs of adhesion failure two years after it was painted. The moral is, never rush through that which needs particular attention paid to it.

The paint ended up being redone at George's Auto Body in Fresno at considerable expense.

While the body was at the body shop being painted, attention was then returned to the motor. And this is when the first deviation from "The Plan" occurred. We needed a set of heads and were looking at the CB street eliminators. When we realized that the much bigger Competition Eliminators were only $100 more, well, since bigger is better, we went big!

This action dictated high ratio rockers, which we were not initially planning to use, and a cam change. There again, we chose a bigger one. After the preassembly work was done and everything was assured of proper fit and running clearance, final assembly was done, and the motor was pretty much complete.

We got the body back from the body shop and reassembly began. Everything was falling into place. Sort of.

Then, the next deviation from "The Plan." With the big heads and big cam, we realized the 40 IDF Webers were now much too small, but we would have to live with them for awhile until we could save enough to do something else. With the motor ending up being more than we had initially planned, coupled with our decision not to alter the body in any way led to another deviation from "The Plan." The decision was made to use slicks instead of street tires. The reasoning being that no street tire that would fit under the fender would have any chance at all of hooking up. This was later resolved with the introduction of the BFG Drag Radial. By this time however, we had already made the switch to a beefier tranny.

Our initial use of slicks presented another shortcoming in our previous decision on the transaxle. This trans was ordered with street tires in mind. It was brought to our attention that this trans wouldn't live long. But we decided to take our chances for a while.
After everything was pretty much back together, we took it out for it's first runs down the track at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield. After a few bugs were worked out, we staged the car for it's third pass. This was going to be a good one. Staged it, Dumped the clutch, and with a heave and a lurch, it stopped just a few feet off the starting line with a broken axle.

I ass-umed the axles were stout enough for a 13 second VW. Not. A pair of SAW axle were ordered and installed in a hurry for the following weekend. We were rewarded with four full passes and nothing broken and a best of 14.22 at 93 mph, and a 13.91 at 95 mph on New Years Day 2000 at Sacramento several weeks later. Cool! We were happy.

For a while.

Along comes Mike Gagen, Rich Kimball and the Der Renn Kafer Cup. "The Plan" is almost totally abandoned!


Der Renn Kafer Cup

DRKC was originally the brainchild of Doug Mische and Mike Gagen of the DKPIII VW club of Orange County. It was a "Show and Go" class where contestants were both judged for the show portion and those show points were combined with a score given based on track performance to determine an overall winner.

The class was wildly popular with the fans which put us in the public eye almost immediately. We quickly learned that it wasn't always the fastest that got the win. It was the one who best paired both "Show AND Go."

We pulled out all the stops, consulted the judges and brought the car up to show winning standards, while improving performance at the same time, eventually getting the car to run in the high 11 second zone, along with 99 point show scores!

We gave DRKC a four year run, running with the best of the best. I don't think DRKCs success in those first four years will ever be matched. It started a decline and ultimately died out, replaced by the Cal Look Challenge. Participation in that has never been what DRKC was.

After the intital season, there was a point system devised to determine a season champion. In 2001 we finished the season second to Damon Leatua, and in 2002, and 2003, we were the season champions, winning 6 of 7 events in 2003. A nice way to finish!

We ended our DRKC run with the winningest alltime record with 12 wins and two championships. We retired from DRKC after the 2003 season and moved on.


Super Gas - E/Gas

It's What Came Next

We are now heading into our ninth season in Super Gas and it's just as exciting now as as it ever was. The competition is much tighter. The difference is that my son Mark is driving now in BRS VW competition. I still do the driving at the V8 events such as WCHRA and ANRA

Going to Super Gas in 2004 reunited us with our friends Allen & Sue Wiess, Troy & John Palmer and Ken & Suzie Jevic, who migrated from DRKC to SG in 2003. Good buddies Scott Bakken and Kevin Richards have also come over to SG, while the Wiess' and Jevec's have moved over to Super Comp. so it seems like most of the DRKC field from the early days iis now in SG or SC!

Super Gas and E/Gas is a challenge. It requires razor sharp starting line skills combined with being able to judge your position at the stripe. The goal is to get to the stripe first, without running under the 11.60 index. Races are won or lost by thousandths of a second!

We will continue to keep the car show worthy, although we won't fret (as much) over the increasing number of stone chips on the nose, or the inevitable scrapes and dings in the engine bay. Some changes in car set-up will be required, but it will remain a street legal car in every regard....for those "Punch & Coast" trips to the burger stand on a Saturday night!


The Road Ahead

I don't think I could ever not race. It's in my blood. I've been doing it for better than 30 years and have made well over 2000 passes down the track in various cars. It's still a challenge. Sometimes I hope something will break just so I can fix it and make the car better, faster, quicker.

The important thing is that we are having fun and making new friends from all over the world and going to places we have never been. It's been a wonderful road to be on. We hope there are many (quarter) miles ahead and many friends yet to meet.


Performance Stats

In Chronological Order

14.22@91 MPH as of Nov 99 Bakersfield Raceway (2165cc, 10-1 CR 40 IDFs with belt on)

13.91@95 MPH on New Years Day, 2000, Sacramento (40 IDFs with belt on)

13.46@ 99.97 MPH at Sacramento BOR Memorial Day (40 IDFs belt off)

13.21@ 101 MPH at Sacramento BOR Labor day (EFI, belt off)

13.58 @ 98 MPH at Las Vegas BugIn (high altitude)

13.04 @ 103 at Sacramento, Oct 22, 2000 (more EFI tuning, last runs with slicks)

13.16 @ 101 at Bakersfield Nov 4, 2000 (switch to BFG drag radials, no other changes)

13.26 @ 99 at Phoenix, April 7th, 2001. Phoenix BOR event

13.06 @ 83 at Bakersfield May 5, 2001 (partial pass on newly ported heads. Damage to motor

12.82 @103 at Bakersfield June 23rd (first official passes on new 2332 shortblock)

12.61 @ 106 at Bakersfield "Battle of the Imports" July 29th 2001

12.46 @ 107 at Sacramento, Sept 2, 2001 Labor day BOR event

12.73 @ 103.4 at Las Vegas, Oct 7 2001, BugIn (high altitude)

12.32 @ 107.42 at Bakersfield "Battle of the Imports" Nov 18 2001

12.30 @ 107.5 at Bakersfield Feb 23, 2002

12.23 @ 111.03 at Sacramento, May 26th 2002 BOR

12.22 @111.54 at Sacramento, Sept 1st 2002 BOR

12.25 @ 108 at Las Vegas, Oct 6th 2002

12.14 @111.54 at Bakersfield "Battle of the Imports" Nov 16 2002

11.86 @ 112.8 at Phoenix BOR April 12, 2003

11.72 @ 116.0 at Sacramento May 25th BOR

11.65 @ 115 at Carlsbad June 7th 2003

11.62 @ 116 at Bakersfield "battle of the Imports" Oct 2003

ETs above were run at a car weight of 1980 lbs with driver. ETs below at 1900 lbs with driver

11.49 @ 117.24 at Sacramento, Jan 11, 2004

11.44@ 117 at Sacramento, Mar 7, 2004 (7.23 1/8th mile)

11.42@118 at Sacramento, May 28th, 2007

11.23 @121 at Famoso Raceway, August, 2010