-- El Dub's Nostalgia VW corner --
THE CASEY COLLIER EARLY DAYS...
It's been a long time... And I finally did it... That fiberglass Glass Wag'n is not just another race VW... Would you believe it was one of the very firstVW bug that appeared on cover of a US Rodding magazine : the april '67 issue of Rod & Custom, just after the legendary EMPI Inch Pincher made it in October 1966...
In fact, the Glass Wag'n was also the very first VW racing bug using an all fiberglass body, made by Cal Automotive in San Fernando Valley, especially for the owner.
I was lucky enough to enter in touch some months ago with Jack COLLIER, who appears to be Colt PRESTON, aka Casey COLLIER brother... Yes, Colt Preston was an aka... And believe me, if this name sounds unfamiliar, Casey was another pionneer in VW drag racing customisin'...
You will read on the very interesting full story of Casey in the right column, but for now, let's have a look at some period pictures, as usual.
Quite probably one of the very first picture of the Glass Wag'n... Note the red rollcage and the lack of any racing stickers... Should be the very very early days... Note the lack of running boards and side chrome trims...
This is another early picture of the bug because it doesn't had yet the yellow drag chute... Exact location is unknown but Casey is guessing it was at Irwindale Raceway... Casey is standing behind his car with sunglasses.
Another point of view... Note the running boards compare to the first above picture.
RAYMOND GROOM & BILL SAUL DAYS...
After Casey sold the car in late 1967 to Raymond GROOM and Bill SAUL from Lakewood, California, this is typically how you might see the Glass Wag'n when racing : All 4 wheels off the ground, 2 feet in the air, as shown here at Lions Dragstrip... Note the Groom & Saul names on the doors in place of Colt PRESTON...
Casey recalls : As far as lifting all four wheels, when I sold the Glass Wag'n, it had a transmission that I built, but the buyer destroyed it in a race and installed a bus trans. When he installed the bus trans he did not adjust the spring plates. Therefore, when he launched, the car would leap off the ground. When this was discovered, he would make 3 runs a night at Lions Dragstrip for $50.00 a pass.
Awesome night racing action at Lions without decklid... This picture was provided by Paul SCHLEY when he heard I was working on that section... Thanks Paul, you are the man!
I can't stop enjoying those froggy pictures... White pipe exhaust headers are evident here...
Believe it or not, Casey COLLIER was kind enough to answer some of my questions via his brother Jack email account (Thanks Jack).
- Casey, can you tell me how you were involved with VW? Why did you choose to race a little VW rather than an american muscle car?
I worked for Lee Carpenter VW in 1962 as a service advisor. I had a natural interest in racing from an early age. Previously Chevy and Pontiac. My first time at a drag strip was in 1963 at Lions Drag Strip in A VW, ran 19.26 Seconds. The challenge to faster began to see how fast I could go. The second time I ran 17 seconds flat. From there, the progression was on. I had done some American cars but the more I ran a VW, the thrill of outrunning an American V8 with a small 4 cylinder brought greater joy because nobody else was doing it...
Early action dragstrip at Irwindale against a Corvette... Quite probably the very same day as the down left picture...
- Can you tell me more about the Don Burns Superbug?
I could write several pages on the man. Don Burns was exceptional & intelligent but most of all, an excellent judge of people. All you had to do was present a plan or an idea and if liked you, you had an opportunity with his full support. Don Burns already had a VW Racer in “B Modified” class being guided by Howard (“Howie” ? Sorry, can’t remember his last name) He and I began a transformation into an “I” Gas car.Most changes were to the engine, 88mm X 78mm and then the following: Dropped straight axel, 1974 Porsche trans with drum brakes and 48 IDA’s, Joe Hunt magneto, ( Joe Vittone developed the 48 IDA manifolds and 1.4 ratio rockers, SPG Roller bearing shaft assembly. However, little was known about these crank assemblies at this time. This is how “Wedgemated” cranks and flywheels came to be. I lost 2 or 3 flywheels at the 1972 Winternationals. I later learned of the inherent inability to balance it. At that time, no one made an “aftermarket” Gland Nut. So, I had one made with the washer made onto the nut, torque the nut to 450 ft. lbs. This did not fix the problem, lost another flywheel. That was the single most problematic issue of the time.
Groom & Saul days... Note the typical front end stance...
With that issue aside, I knew the heads could be improved. I went to Kay Sissels place in El Monte, California one night. Kay allowed me to come in and flow my heads. They continued to show improvement on the bench but not running any faster on the track. The problem was that the holes in the heads were too big, creating a volumetric inefficiency. (piston size versus stroke) the engine size was just too small. The solution was to create 12” adjustable velocity stacks. After playing with those, the “B Modified” Don Burns car ran 14.0 seconds. Then the Don Burns Super Bug I Gas car ran 12.08, an NHRA I gas record and ran 12.10 seconds at Orange County to set the record there for I gas. In 1972, the car ran 11.89 at Fremont, CA. for best E.T.
- Can you tell me the story behind the Glass Wag'n? Was it the first VW race car you built?
Prior to the Glass Wag’n, I was running an all steel 57 Bug sometime in 1965. I contacted Cal Automotive in the San Fernando, maker of fiberglass bodies (Model A & T Fords etc.) It took nearly a year to convince Tex (never knew his real name, he was part time movie actor in “Western” movies and a good friend of Carroll Shelby) to build the Bug. I was to receive the first one. The drivers door and engine lid were made seperatly. The complete body weighed less than 100 pounds. Was originally mounted on a 2” x 3” tube frame with a straight front axle a #741- 356B trans with disk brakes and the engine was a 912 Super mounted “Mid Engine” and running on Alcohol.
Don't ask me why, but front pictures of the bug with four wheels up are uncommon, so enjoy this one... Note the Isky Cam stickers in the headlights location... Very cool shot!
Please keep in mind that I was only 25 years old with no college education or real racing experience, not even a mentor. Subsequently, I made two passes at Lions Drag Strip with the engine banging and popping and ran a 14.85 second pass. I went home and disassembled the car and put the body on a full VW pan with a straight axle, ran pump gas, added a parachute, (8 foot, red/white & blue) and ran 12.60 to 12.75. The first two passes at Lions Dragway were for exhibition and were preceded by 2 weeks of hype of a Firebreathing Alcohol burning VW. The 2 passes paid $50.00. No win, just by runs.
Maybe the same pass as above...
Read more on page 2...
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A FRENCH TRIBUTE
TO THE PIONNEERS OF VW DRAG RACING
ROD & CUSTOM ARTICLE - APRIL 1967
A German twister can be mighty devastating especially to the morale over at a stock car corner...
Below is the complete article as written by Tom McMULLEN back in '67... Again, this is very interesting reading as it was written at the very beginning of the Volkswagen racing days and the author is astonished by the VW performances...
Hard launch at Irwindale Raceway...
Can you imagine anything funnier than going racing on the 'big time' scale with a Volkswagen? Well it's not so funny anymore. Today's style of drag racing seems to be 'anything goes'. Hot rodders have thrown so many unbelievables at the spectators, that today, anything is believable. oF course, you have to do it right.
Colt PRESTON of Lynwood, California did it right. One of the rules in drag racing is to keep things light. Colt contacted Tex COLLINS of Cal Automotive, and applying some hot rodder convincing, persuaded Tex that an all-glass Volkswagen body would be good for Tex as a selling item.
This is how the fiberglass body looked before painting... One man could easily lift it...
Once he solved the matter of obtaining a glass body Colt's next step was building a working chassis. He started with a '65 Volkswagen frame, constructed a front tube axle out of 1/8" wall and rigged up a set of VW torsion leafs for front suspension. Ford '32 spindles and friction pad front shocks were also used. Control was acomplished by using the Corvair streering gear.
For rear suspension, Colt first tried to make rigid suspension out of the independent VW rear suspension. This was accomplished, but didn't seem to fit the racing bill so he started over and finished up with a spring type suspension. A gear ration of 5:10 to 1 was selected. Would you believe a Volkswagen pulling a 5:10 to 1 gear? Well anyway, Colt went on to equip the VW with a set of Porsche rear brakes and a Spirit, tri-form parachute.
Rear view reveals the parachute and the 'Paint by Molly' famous logo just under the rear window...
The engine in this VW is one of the most potent powerplants around (for a VW that is). Colt used the large '66 vintage VW engine as a starter. The stock 74 cubic inches were increased to 122 cubes. A 5/16" stroker shaft was obtained from C&T Crankshaft. Pistons purchased from M/T increased the 3" bore to 3 9/16". Cold had the stock VW rods line bored and boxed for durability. A steel billet camshaft (roller no less) made by Crower, was teamed with Thomas pushrods and rocker and a special set of roller lifters.
The heads were modified by Speed Engineering. Colt encountered some difficulty in obtaining miscellaneous speed equipment for the VW (such as injection and supercharger) so he compromised with a specially designed manifold and the Weber 48 IDA carburetors.
A nitro and alky fuel mixture is also capable of good compensating. A Vertex magneto handles the fuel mixture.
A set of Fourtuned Headers of Riverside, California (that's exactly what you get, four tuned headers) handled exhaust.
The drive line consists of a VW flywheel with a special brass lining and a reworked VW clutch. A Porsche transmission provides shifting. Colt modified 3rd and 4th gears for a shiftier shifter.
Molly's Custom Paints located in La Habra, California, was responsible for the patriotic red, white and blue paintjob. The white pearl base with the candy red and blue accenting makes the VW a looker.
In case you eagle-eye readers have spotted the suspended rear trunk lid, the reason for this is to provide the engine with breathing air; cooling too. A VW on the street is one thing, but try and race one and those air tight trunks lids will leave a racing VW gasping for air.
Colt is still in the process of de-bugging his bug, but e.t.'s are already skating around the 12 second e.t.
Would you believe a 10 or 11 second, tire smoking wheel standing Volkswagen?
Yes, of course El Dub would...