California Bug-In 39

VW drag racing, car show and swap meet at Irwindale Raceway, plus a very cool pre-event party that had a vintage racing theme
By Shin Watanabe | May 9, 2014

Photos by Shin Watanabe


Everyone had a blast participating at the festivities surrounding Bug-In 39! Spectators were greeted with 1/8-mile drag racing, big participant-judged car show with “Stock” and “Custom” classes, all kinds of VW related parts and collectables in the vendor’s alley, and a huge swap! For some, it was reminiscent of the events that happened back in the day at OCIR. No matter what your particular interests are relating to the Volkswagen hobby, Bug-In 39 had something for everyone to enjoy! Stay tuned for our complete coverage of this event, including results and class winners, in an upcoming (possibly September) issue of Hot VWs magazine.
On Saturday afternoon, the day prior to Bug-In 39, local Southern California VW club Der Kleiner Kampfwagens (DKK) hosted a pre Bug-In celebration at Heroes Bar and Grill in downtown Fullerton. The event featured the Inch Pincher drag Bug with Darrell Vittone, and the Lightning Bug with the Schley brothers. Both historical race Beetle replicas were built by Russell Richie from Scotland.
Saturday afternoon, the Legends’ Party was hosted at the Schley museum. We did a “Voting” group shot after asking people who they thought would win the featured match race at the Bug-In. Folks who have an orange coaster in their hand voted for Darrell Vittone, blue coaster for the Schley Bros. Note that both Darrell Vittone and Paul Schley voted for themselves.
Darrell Vittone is signing the original Inch Pincher door. The man standing behind the door is Loren Richards who preserved this historical item on the ceiling of his garage since 1972. The full story about this EMPI Inch Pincher Door will be revealed in the July issue of Hot VWs magazine!
VW cylinder head wizard, Fumio Fukaya (right), enjoys a reunion with Darrell Vittone at the Schley Museum Legends’ party. It was fitting that the fiberglass Inch Pincher Door was right next to Darrell when we photographed these two VW dignitaries.
Keith Seume (left) from Cornwall, England took a special flight to sunny Southern California in preparation for driving the Ron Fleming / Hunsaker Racing Super Street Beetle at Irwindale Raceway. Keith was the #1 Qualifier, and he later advanced his way through the elimination rounds where he was the runner up in the final round.
Here's the Super Stock winner, Scott Kelley doing an amazing launch on the Irwindale Drag Strip in his Pro Fastback.
The car show had a great turnout with all types of VW models.
Former associate editor of Hot VWs and VW Trends, Dave Cormack (right), made the trip from northern California to attend Bug-In 39, which was a fun reunion with many VW friends. One highlight for him was having Darrell Vittone autograph his glove box door. He also enjoyed spending time with Hot VWs technical editor, Dean Kirsten.
The Schley brothers brought the original Lightning Bug II for exhibition runs at the event. This was Paul Schley's first and best launch at Bug-In 39. Thanks to the modern Gene Berg wheelie bars, the announcer said "the 60 foot time was a sure 6-second pass." Maybe next time we will see an official time slip with an E.T. in the sixes.
It was as if we were transported back in time! The last time Darrell Vittone and Paul Schley raced each other was 40 years ago at the Winternationals.
Need some rare VW parts for your restoration, or collectable items for your vintage memorabilia display? If so, you may have found them at the Bug-In. Here's the booth that famed VW collector Ed Economy set up at the event.
It's always fun to see the Pro Eliminator Bay Window Bus of Alex Sotelo doing these big wheels up launches on the drag strip.
Here's Johnnie Hefler’s beautiful wheelie!
Event sponsor and supporter Wolfsburg West had an impressive display at the Bug-In.
Just after setting Low E.T. of the event, Outlaw Turbo pilot Karl Koppenhaver got sideways, hit the wall, and rolled his race Bug at Bug-In 39. Fortunately, he walked away from the mishap and was okay, but his race car suffered some damage.

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