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VW Beetle Fun Cup: Racing Beetles with Golf GTI engines

Volkswagen of America /Sean Maynard
VW Beetle Fun Cup in Miami
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A When we were still children , we had many dreams: some wanted to explore space as astronauts, others save lives as firefighters and still others hoped for fast cars, fame and honor as racing drivers. In most cases these professions remain unmatched, today we are content with less spectacular jobs. But that doesn't mean that you have to put make-up on these dreams for good. At least not for some.

Terry, 45, lives in Paris and runs a company in the steel industry. Certainly not the worst career choice, but still not very adventurous, he thinks. Today he wants to be a child again and plays a racing driver. While the European weather in January is quite modest, the sun shines in Florida at 28 degrees. The Frenchman takes off the Ray-Ban and puts on his helmet. Then he swings into his four-wheeled sweetheart. He does a couple of laps on the Homestead race track, about 50 minutes south of Miami.

Volkswagen of America /Sean Maynard
Sun in Miami: The VW Beetle Fun Cup debuts in the USA.

VW Beetle Fun Cup: 7 races of the season and 25-hour races in Spa

While American NASCARS usually hunt through the banked curves in Homestead, 32 squeaky VW Beetles are hopping over there today the asphalt. Because the Beetle Fun Cup makes its American debut at this point. Founded almost 20 years ago in Belgium and France, the amateur racing series now goes on a joint 'class trip' once a year. Because after 7 races this season on various European tracks and an annual 25-hour race in Spa, the drivers want a bit of variety: “TheBoys said they wanted to go somewhere where the weather was nice, ”explains Fun Cup organizer Benoit Abdelatif. Last year Dubai was a special destination on the racing schedule of the Beetle Fun Cup, this year it's Florida.

In the pit lane it's haywire. There are still 30 minutes until the start. But instead of technical engineers, team bosses, media representatives and grid girls, families romp here mixed with old man cliques and fortify themselves with sandwiches from the lunch box. The professional tools on the box floor are manageable. After the warm-up, Terry's team takes a look at the Beetle's engine. Strictly speaking, however, only the souped-up GRP body is reminiscent of the popular German classic car.

1.8-liter engine from the VW Golf in the Beetle Fun Cup Cars

Because the boxer engine gave way to a 1.8 liter engine from the VW Golf and brings the lively racing balls to 130 hp. The tubular space frame with MacPherson suspension and internally ventilated disc brakes ensure more safety and stamina during the six-hour race, explains organizer Abdelatif. The individual driver's seat is in the middle, apart from the most important instruments such as the steering wheel, pedals and the like, they are emptied like cars and weigh around 750 kilos. A toy like this then costs around 50,000 euros, estimates Abdelatif.

Terry has been participating in the Fun Cup for five years. But he doesn't have a fun beetle. The Frenchman rents the car for the races. 10,000 euros per weekend for an all-round carefree package, he says. Compared to other racing series, this is a bargain. Nevertheless, it is more of a wealthy clientele who live out their childhood dreams here: “I'm sure that I'll be a lot poorer tonight,” says Terry, “my wife is shopping in Miami. And she has my credit card. ”A worry that doesn't seem to bother him. Today's race is much more important. Son Raphael, 19, secured pole position for the team.

Volkswagen of America /Peter Minning
The former go for VolkswagenFormula 1 driver Scott Speed, Belgian racing drivers Anthony Kumpen and Maxime Potty and rallycross professional Tanner Foust at the start (from left to right).

Scott Speed ​​and Tanner Foust drove for Volkswagen

But the Fun Cup is not really about winning. The name already suggests it. This is primarily about fun, dreams and escaping from everyday life. Rumble across the asphalt with the brightly colored bang boxes, cheer on the team from the edge of the road, just be happy like a child again. Rallycross driver Scott Speed ​​is still in a competitive mood: “Of course I drive to win a race,” says the former Formula 1 driver, who is also starting today on behalf of Volkswagen. Together with rallycross driver and stuntman Tanner Foust and the Belgian racing drivers Anthony Kumpen and Maxime Potty, he is supposed to mix up the fun race a bit.

Speed's professional preparation? “Frosted Donuts,” he reveals as he chews, stuffs another American pastry into his mouth and crumbles the empty bag. “My energy drink is sugar-free,” he replies to irritated looks. Today the professionals can also take it easy.

After a few warm-up laps, the safety car clears the track for the flying start and Homestead becomes a life-size Carrera track. The colorful plastic bouncers whiz down the straight with 180 items. Why actually beetles? “They are the symbol of peace and pleasure,” explains Abdelatif. Despite all the carelessness, the drivers received several days of coaching and must be in possession of an A racing license, adds the French.

Winner of the VW Beetle Fun Cup is unimportant

Meanwhile, the Beetles roar so loudly on the speed way that you can no longer understand your own word. Every 20 minutes or so, the drivers of the teams take turns and pull each other out of the tight cockpit with their combined forces. In between, they drive to the gas station on the premises, change tires in the alley or go to the pits in between to fix engine and chassis problems. Everything is fast and lively, everyone takes care of everything. There is no tense, hectic pace, the grins of the drivers match the Caribbean weather.

After three hours, the first race of this weekend is over, on Sunday it will continue. Who won right away? Organizer Abdelatif shrugs his shoulders. 'Phew, I don't really know.' But that doesn't seem to be the point here. There is only one thing that all Fun Cup drivers agree on: The winner is the fun.

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