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Complete Iguana Page.jpg
1- Tribute to Bill CLARKSON!  |    2- IGUANA being built...  |    3- IGUANA Specs.  |   


I can easily confess that my previous section devoted to Iguana is one of the all time favourite amoung visitors of the Nostalgia corner... I don't know why... This said, I must admit that Iguana played a big role to my nostalgia addiction... Why? Because this car smells the 70's... Bright paintjob, good feeling, one of a kind nickname...

Add to these facts that the original owner is still interested by what happens to the VW scene... Bill attended the Bug-in 32 in 2005 and from what he told me, was quite surprised by the current entusiasm regarding the Nostalgia trend. He said "I was glad to be asked to go to it and see all the progress made by racers and vendors". But the big surprise for him was how much you can spend on an engine these days and the huge variety of race engine parts...

This is one of my favourite picture whatever the gasser considered... Note the early version of the car... No stickers at all and EMPI five spokes rims...

Another very cool picture showing a very proud Bill. This picture made the back cover of "How to Hot Rod VW engines" from 1970...

Bill proudly stands in front of the Iguana at the San Gabriel Raceway (CA) with his Crew in this colorized picture. (Picture is a thumbnail, just click it...). From left to right : Bill CLARKSON, Jim CHAPUTA, Gary Mc NEIL and Gary ANDERSON.

Iguana in tow. Another treasure picture from Glenn MILLER. Behind is the Don Burns Volkswagens pickup Type 2. All an era...
Bill was friendly enough to remind the good old days at the track for us... So, here are his comments regarding his involvement with VW and the Iguana... Thanks so much Bill. Enjoy!!!

Bill, how to you get involved with Drag racing a VW?

My Family had several VW's and a VW microbus and I liked the design and function of their products. I had a machinist's background and had built several cars (not VW's) from the ground up. These included a 1941 Chevy coupe, a 1949 Chevy, a 1951 Chevy with a 350 cu. in. V8 with 3-2bbls carbs and headers. I built a model A with a Chevy drive train which included a close ratio Corvette trans and a narrowed Chevy differential etc. It was shortly after that I was at the Irwindale Raceway and Dean Lowry was there running the "Inch Pincher". After I saw one run I decided to build the car. I just could not get over how fast it was just blasting by a Corvette in a heads up race.

Where in earth did you find the name Iguana for a VW?

When I was looking for a wild paint job I came across a shop that would do it for me if I paid for the paint and I advertised them on the car. They did mostly custom cars. I told them to do it in green and surprise me. They did not let me down either. After getting it home it just came to me. "Iguana". Now I realized that I need to find a good lettering shop or graphic painter that lettered cars. I asked around and finally found a guy who was fairly new at it but was well thought of and got it done. I look back now and realize that I was very lucky to find the people to do the paint and lettering and have it turn out all right. The gold leaf went real good with the lime green too.

Note the lip on the rear fiberglass wing. They were later replaced...

What's your best memory racing the Iguana?

I was racing at the 1971 Winternationals at Pomona, CA and Dean Lowry was racing his new purple Car "Deano Dyno Soars". He had an experimental 5 speed and was really running good and then "bang" it broke the trans axle. He then put in his spare Porsche transaxle and broke it. In the semifinals he was loaned (against his better judgment) the the Schley Bros. "Lightning Bug" transaxle which he broke against the Iguana and then I lost against the record holder of H/Gas in the final called "The Hummer" which was a GMC straight 6 in an english car which I can't think of the make. I lost that race on the top end after leading almost all the way to the traps. Dean lost a bunch of money that day on transaxles. I really felt bad that he had all that trouble and cost. It was bitter sweet and an exciting time.

Do you know what the Iguana became?

No. I dismantled the car when I moved to Oregon and sold some of the parts. I sold the body and chassis to a person in El Monte and that was the last I ever heard of it.

Do you remember your work at Competition Engineering?

Like it was yesterday, We made all kinds of parts for VW as well as Porsche customers. Head porting, cutting heads for compression, large valve seats and combustion chamber shaping. Relief's in pistons, line boring of crank cases, 8 doweling crankshafts. We did it all. We sold a large amount of speed products too. There were up to 8 or 9 employees in the shop. Ray Litz did most of the customer service and ordering. He did some of the work when he first started but it grew too big and he did not have time any more to do machining.

Are you aware of the current interest all over the world for old VW Gasser?

No not really...

Copyright © 2007 El Dub - Tous droits réservés.

E-mail : eldub@cal-look.com



A young Bill CLARKSON working in US Army...

Below are some words written by Bill himself...

I built the car at home and had no professional help except for the paint. I had to guess on the jetting and timing on the engine and had never dyno'd it before the first pass which was a 12.07 et. I was using a modified VW Transaxle which broke after 5 passes. I then had some help from a VW porsche repair shop which loaned me a Porsche transaxle with what porsche racers called airport gearing. It did not break as I made a 4130 alloy steel girdle to support the pounding on the pinion gear.

Best ever ET was 11.56 at the trials of the 1970 Winter nationals. I was always strapped for cash and really needed a dyno to get things sorted out. I finally gave up when the flywheel came loose at the San Gabriel valley drag strip during testing. I just did not have the money to continue as I had family obligations that were more of a priority.

Bill I would have continued as I really felt that I could have made some changes to the engine and gearing which would make 11.40s a reality. Drag racing takes cubic money! I enjoyed every minute and cherish the old days very much.

What most people do not know is that I really had only 1 sponsor which was Ray Litz the owner of Competition Engineering who was my employer at the time and he did allow me to use his Machine shop to make any parts I needed and did pay my wages for the days at the races and occasionally would donate parts to the effort. He did not have a dyno and I did not have the place or the money to buy one.

The performance I achieved was through seat of the pants testing although I knew it could have been a lot better if I had a dyno. I finally did get help with the transaxle from Dave Enmark's Automotive in Monrovia, Ca. He was a good friend of Ray Litz and provided a Porsche transaxle with limited slip and airport gearing with the stipulation that I could only use it if I built a steel girdle. I did what he asked and it never broke during all the time I used it. I really felt that I needed 5 gears to really do it right.

Bill I was always strapped for cash. Today it would be really impossible to compete in that without key parts that you have to buy you can not build a competitive engine because those parts can not be built like we did in the old days from reworked existing VW factory parts.