Staging Lanes were filled on Saturday night's Round One of qualifying.

End of Summer Bash

Web Coverage of the Bugorama #74 at Sacramento Raceway, Labor Day Weekend 2014.
By Dean Kirsten | March 10, 2015

Photos by Dean Kirsten


The date was Sunday, August 31, the day before Labor Day — what most consider the end of summer. For the Volkswagen drag racing community, this event marks the fourth stop in the 2014 five-race Bugorama Racing Series. It can be a game changer for anyone chasing points for the year-end championship. Sacramento Raceway Park is considered by many the best track in the series, where most of the BRS records are set. But at the same token, this event is also a huge draw for custom VWs to show, and last but certainly not least, a massive swap meet that dwarfs any other VW swap meet by a long shot. The entire weekend package is hard to miss, if you love VW racing, car show and buying old crusty “dub” parts. Top performers from this weekend included Doug Harvey, driving his air-cooled-powered New Beetle going heads up against Steve Phillips’s nitro dragster in a most unusual matchup in Top Eliminator. Both Harvey and Steve had run 7.70s at 175+mph, so the race should have been close, but the JCL New Beetle was on “rails” and took the win. Shawn Geers made it three in a row for Super Street, as he and Ron Fleming have been the only players in town in this once filled class. Noteworthy was that JCL actually raised the roof, or un-chopped the Geers Ghia’s lid to make it class-compliant, which this day showed it made absolutely no difference in performance. Shawn took the win, as Fleming suffered gearbox gremlins once a Pro Ring got damaged. Mike Shelden returned to Super Comp and made it a stellar day on the track. The class final pitted him with Mike Lawless who is always tough to beat, especially running on a 10.90 index. Both cars were side-by-side and this time, Shelden took the narrow win.
Ken Porter driving Patrick Friel's primered Ghia won Pro Gas over Kevin Barrett.
Perhaps the buzz before this event was, “what was going to happen in Pro-Mod?” Would the class’ quickest two — Eric Calabrese and Kris Lauffer — both get into the 7s at the same time? After round one of Saturday’s qualifying, Kris certainly was ready to haul ass with a stout 7.92, while Eric made a much easier pass at 8.64. The big race came around Sunday afternoon when both moved into the final round. During the burnout, Kris broke third gear (he often does his burnouts in third by the way), and immediately knew he was DOA for the final. Eric took advantage of the three-speed Lauffer and took the win with an e-z 9.26/135.31mph run. The other turbocharged sedan class, Pro Turbo, came up next with class leader Anthony Hernds taking the top spot at 9.52 on Saturday night. But during round one Anthony was unable to make a full pass, thus giving Las Vegas’ Dimitri Bakolas the green light and the win (9.74/141.28mph). That set the final for Dimitri to go up against Jason Fuller who ran quicker in round one at 9.50. The final was close on the tree, but Fuller pulled away and got there first (9.47 to 9.74). Great race! Super Gas runs on an 11.90 index which basically means you try to get as close to this time as possible, but not quicker. Robert Anderson was tops in this field with a 11.92 in qualifying, and managed to move all the way to the final, going against Russell Sakatani. Robert aced this final with a spot-on 11.902 to Russell’s too quick 11.68. CB Performance’s Pro Gas class saw five cars make the field, with Kevin Barrett on top with a 10.93. Kevin took out Scott Bakken in round two and then went to the main event with Ken Porter, driving Patrick Friel’s Ghia. Porter got the early lead, but once Kevin began to slow down, the race was over. Porter won the Pro Gas final 11.09/122.87mph.
Andy McCarthy's 1966 Squareback.
Labor Day was the third round for the ladies’ Powder Puff Series, and for this event, there were four that made the long trip to Sacramento. The class final became a repeat of a number of appearances by these ladies, a battle between Cindi Crocker and Candy Larsen. For this race, Cindi got the edge off the line and held on to win another round of racing (16.03/83.02mph to 15.35/86.17mph) a pretty close matchup for an air-cooled Bug and a water-cooled GTI. For the other three non-BRS divisions, we saw John Weitl taking home the Trophy win over John Ballas, Terry Burnett winning the Sportsman class over Stephanie Bracy, and Anton Walker taking on the large turnout in Pro Eliminator, beating Jimmy Bowes in the final round. During the day’s racing, there has to be a time where you leave the grandstands and make your way to the car show, going past the snack bar. Well, anyone who has been to this event knows that the lines often get really long and waiting 20+ minutes for a burger is common. And the area where the lines are is so crammed, it is difficult to get by to even get to the car show.... Things could be better. There needs to be alternative places to get something to eat and drink (other than Muffler Mike’s barbecue!)...
Eric Calabrese throws out the laundry after winning the Pro Mod final against Kris Lauffer. Brain Watts action photo.
So after we grabbed a burger and made our way to the show, we did find that the turnout for the second Bugorama of 2014 was pretty darn big! Although some of these cars are parked so close together, it makes taking photos (or just getting around them) difficult, if not impossible. But once we crawled through the area, we did see a number of really cool VWs. Of the hundred-plus cars in the show, the Promoter’s Choice for Air-Cooled was awarded to the 1962 Kombi of Johnny O’ from Aptos, California. The same promoter also selected the 1988 Fox sedan of Nicole Sjostrom — a local to Sacramento. Host Club Choice went to Jermey Leonard’s 1966 Transporter, while the Best Interior went to the candy red ’54 chop top of Rod Martin from Vacaville, CA. Best Use of Color went to the painter Jason Neufield in his brightly painted red ’62 Ragtop. Winner of the Coolest ’65-’67 Bug, and also had the best flames in the business, was Ronnie Munoz’s red ‘66 from Discovery Bay, CA. One of the more interesting stories that came out of the car show, was the husband and wife team, who drove two VWs from Galt, California. Fran Gruen drove her pristine 1972 Fastback, while hubby Jack Gruen followed her in his mint 1973 Thing. Both VWs won awards (Most Original and Best Stock Thing), and they must have had an enjoyable ride home!
Attending the second Bugorama each year always comes with some concerns for excessive heat, which thankfully was not an issue this year. The entire event went smoothly with few oil-downs, and other than Beau Judge sheering off a left rear drive hub on his Pro Turbo sedan, the drag racing went smoothly. We left the track at 5:00 p.m. — after all the awards were given out to the racers — and car show folks got their prizes about 3:00. We need to thanks Niello Volkswagen for being the lead sponsor for this event once again, and to the Hole family, for keeping this event alive and fun for the both the air- and water-cooled communities. We enjoy coming to Sacramento and look forward to driving back on May 24, 2015 for Bugorama #75. Be there!
Car Show area was pretty much full by 11:00 am.
DRAG RACING ESSERINI AUTO TOP ELIMINATOR — 1. Doug Harvey, Wildomar, CA, New Beetle, 7.75/173.87mph; 2. Steve Phillips, Redding, CA, dragster, 7.35/179.94mph; PRO ELIMINATOR — 1. Anton Walker, Reno, NV, Bug, 12.57/106.13mph; 2. Jimmy Bowes, Auburn, CA, Ghia, 13.15/97.76mph; SPORTSMAN ELIMINATOR — 1. Terry Burnett, Clovis, CA, sedan, 14.43/84.26mph; 2. Stephnie Bracy, Carmichael, CA, roadster, 15.52/86.34mph; TROPHY — 1. John Weitl, Glendora, CA, 16.27/83.02mph; 2. John Ballas, San Bruno, CA, sedan, 14.89/77.22mph; POWDER PUFF — 1. Cindy Crocker, Palm Springs, CA, Bug, 16.30/83.02mph; 2. Candy Larsen, Westminster, CA, GTI, 15.35/86.17mph; PRO TURBO — 1. Jason Fuller, Dayton, NV, sedan, 9.47/139.40mph; 2. Dimitri Bakolas, Las Vegas, NV, sedan, 9.74/141.28mph; SUPER GAS — 1. Robert Anderson, Apple Valley, CA, sedan, 11.902/103.73mph; 2. Russell Sakatani, Los Angeles, CA, sedan, 11.68/109.91mph; BUGFORMANCE SUPER COMP — 1. Mike Shelden, Redondo Beach, CA, Bug, 11.01/118.56mph; 2. Mike Lawless, Clovis, CA, Ghia, 10.99/112.49mph; BUGPACK PRO MOD — 1. Eric Calabrese, Simi Valley, CA, Bug, 9.26/135.31mph; 2. Kris Lauffer, San Marcos, CA, Bug, 27.69/29.02mph; HEADS UP PERFORMANCE SUPER STREET — 1. Shawn Geers, Westminster, CA, Ghia, 13.74/63.70mph; 2. Ron Fleming, Yorba Linda, CA, Bug, no show; CB PERFORMANCE PRO GAS — 1. Ken Porter, El Dorado Hills, CA, Ghia, 11.09/122.87mph; 2. Kevin Barrett, Covina, CA, Bug, 13.77/66.71mph.
Jim Christian's super clean '67 21-window camper won Best Stock Pre-'67 Bus class.
CAR SHOW PROMOTER'S CHOICE AIR-COOLED — Johnny O', Aptos, CA, brown 1962 Kombi; PROMOTER'S CHOICE WATER-COOLED — Nicole Sjostrom, Sacramento, CA, charcoal gray 1988 Fox; HOST CLUB CHOICE — Jeremy Leonard, Aptos, CA, green/gray 1966 Transporter; BEST INTERIOR — Rod Martin, Vacaville, CA, Dark Candy Red 1954 Bug; MOST ORIGINAL CAR — Fran Gruen, Galt, CA, blue 1972 Fastback T-3; BEST PATINA — Stacy Wetnight, Carmichael, CA, Garnett 1959 Euro Bug; BEST USE OF COLOR — Jason Neufeld, Fairfield, CA red 1962 ragtop; BEST SPECIAL CONSTRUCTION — Greg Cult, Sacramento, CA yellow 1974 Bradley GT; OUTSTANDING ENGINE AIR-COOLED — Jeff Whitten, Morgan Hill, CA, Dove Blue 1955 Kombi; OUTSTANDING ENGINE WATER-COOLED — Zachery Sanders, Sacramento, CA, white 1992 GTI; COOLEST PRE-'57 BUG — Chadd Townsend, Orangeville, CA, Dove Blue '56; COOLEST '58-'64 BUG — Justin Marino, Lincoln, CA, blue '61; COOLEST '65-'67 BUG — Ronnie Munoz, Discovery Bay, CA, red/flamed '66; COOLEST '68-'79 BUG — Jason Pietz, Union City, CA, yellow '73; COOLEST PRE-'67 BUS — Jerry Berg, Napa, CA, orange/white '66 21-Window; COOLEST '68-'79 BUS — Ralph Lowe, Richmond, CA, tan/white '68 Deluxe; COOLEST KARMANN GHIA — Gregg Tracy, Tracy, CA, Oriole yellow '69 Ghia; COOLEST TYPE 3 — Andy McCarthy, Modesto, CA, red '66 Squareback; COOLEST 'VERT — Thomas Husselstein, Turlock, CA, black '61; COOLEST THING — Drew Fountain, Lodi, CA, yellow '73; COOLEST SINGLE/DOUBLE CAB — Andy Gagnon, Woodland, CA, beige '59 Single Cab; COOLEST CAMPER — Alex Brena, San Francisco, CA, white/peach EZ Camper; COOLEST DUNE BUGGY — Joseph Sellers, Fair Oaks, CA, orange metalflake '70 Meyers Manx; COOLEST RABBIT — Brian Hansen, Orangeville, CA, white '84 GTI; COOLEST GOLF — Josh Costa, Fresno, CA, orange 2007 GTI; COOLEST JETTA — Mario Gaytan, Ceres, CA, green '95 Jetta; COOLEST PASSAT — Will Chavez, West Sacramento, CA, black 2011 CC; COOLEST CORRADO/SCIROCCO — Ivan Rodriguez, Antioch, CA, white '86 Scirocco; COOLEST OFF-ROAD — Salvador Carrillo, Woodland, CA, orange '79; COOLEST VOLKSROD — Darren Dias, Woodland, CA, satin black '54 Beetle; BEST STOCK PRE-'57 BUG — Tim & Connie McCahe, Discovery Bay, CA, green '53 Zwitter Split; BEST STOCK '58-'64 BUG — Lee Stahlecker, Galt, CA, Turkis '63 ragtop; BEST STOCK '65-'67 BUG — Tim Saville, Sacramento, CA, Java Green '66; BEST STOCK '68-'79 BUG — Steve Hopper, Modesto, CA, yellow '72; BEST STOCK PRE-'67 BUS — Jim Christian, Fremont, CA, green/white '67; BEST STOCK '68-'79 BUS — Troy Movius, Sacramento, CA, beige '78 Westfalia; BEST STOCK KARMANN GHIA — Larry McKenzie, San Leandro, CA, green '59; BEST STOCK TYPE 3 — Jahnai Pearson, Richmond, CA, '67 Squareback; BEST STOCK 'VERT — Joel Durant, Orangeville, CA, red '73 Karmann Ghia; BEST STOCK THING — Jack Gruen, Galt, CA, orange '73 Type 181; BEST STOCK SINGLE/DOUBLE CAB — Rick Taylor, Orangeville, CA Camo 1984 Double Cab.
Powder Puff action shows Cindi Crocker (yellow Bug) edging out Candy Larsen (red GTI).
Ron Owens' super clean '68 Ghia was stunning.
VW-powered stage coach, now we've seen everything! And he drove it there!
Radical Type 4 powered Baja Bug of Mike Kyro.
Jason Rictor's 2002 GTI VR6.
Best flames by far went to class winner, Ronnie Munoz's 1966 Bug.
Breakfast at the Bugorama. I'll take mine over-easy with lots of bacon!
Yellow Bug sits right and looks great with Mooneye's Speed Master wheels.
Pro Stock racer Victor Anderson came out with a new Roger Crawford engine and came out wheels up!
Pro Turbo final saw Jason Fuller (far lane) take out Dimitri Bakolas.
Tim and Cindie McCab's 1953 Split-window, ragtop Zwitter.
Bob Hole presents Kris Lauffer with $1,000 cash for becoming the first BRS Pro Mod car to run in the 7-second bracket.

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