-- El Dub's Nostalgia VW corner --
THE Mc GARITY WUNDERBUG GHIA...
Maybe you remember that I compiled a paper devoted to the Race Shop Ghia a very long time ago... This was maybe 10 years ago... Of course, this should deserve another update at one time as so much is to be said about the John Preston Ghia...
But... I'm now getting older... And when you get older, you know it's not all about cars and their owner... In fact, it's all about the owner and their car... It's all about the guys... And this is why our hobby is soooo interesting as so much guys made the racing history of our mighty VW...
You might ask what kind of link can we find between the Race Shop Ghia and above statement? Clearly a man that deserve a special focus today : Rickie Mc GARITY, another period racer and a very very cool person. We all know that the Ghia resides now in Scotland in a famous collection after a complete revamp under the Race Shop colors... But how many of us were curious about vintage pictures showing a Mc GARITY signwritings on the race car sides? So let's have a closer look at the complete story behind with rare facts coming from Rickie himself. I thought it was important to also highlight Rickie's another gasser, a '67 bug with the very same matching paintscheme as the Ghia.
One very very important thing before going any further... Rickie is very sick and tired by too long hospital treatments. So, I hope this little Nostalgia update will help him remembering his good old days and will act on him as the best medicine ever. I wish you the best Rickie. Take good care of Pam and you.
You will read on the very interesting interview of Rickie in the right column, but for now, let's have a look at some period pictures of that legendary gasser under Rickie ownership.
I always thought that the Wunderbug Ghia was the greatest shaped VW gasser... Easy to understand why with such a picture... From any angle, the car looks awesome... Well, this picture is from the Bug-in Rickie and his dad went to pick up the car from John PRESTON.
Proud father & son with their new toy for their very first event racing the Ghia... Note the team matching clothes...
Now that is a special picture because this is Rickie very first pass with the Ghia...
Drag racing a Corvette... We are very lucky that Rickie kept all those period pictures... He recalls 'Just loving out running those corvettes'...
This is the complete Mc Garity Racing Team winning "BEST APPEARING CREW OF
THE YEAR". You just have to fall in love with this picture...
Rickie was kind enough to answer some of my questions, as usual : direct from the source!!! What better way to learn more about than a complete questions/answers ?
- Rickie, can you tell us who you are?
Well, I have been in the automotive industry all my career. I started off as a tech in a VW dealership. Later, when into a partnership with my dad in a VW repair shop. As his health declined, I bought his part out and ran it by myself until about 6 months after his passing.
I sold the shop and did various things like sell cars at a dealership, wrote service there also. Later, worked at an independent shop as writer for a while.
For the last 3&1/2 years, I am a parts cordinator at a body shop corporation that has 98 stores in 11 states.
A true family affair!!! Rickie very first green bug built as a bracket racer. Rickie recalls "the red car was my dad's Street/Strip car. He wanted to race also, so we used it for something for him to have fun with as a part time bracket car". Seems their cars were competitive considering the local class trophies...
-When did you decided to race VWs bugs and Ghia? Do you remember when? I think your father was involved in? Do you remember?
I first decided I wanted to race VW's about 1967, but it took about till 1972 to put together the funds to do that. I always loved Nascar and there was a local oval dirt track that had a rail buggy VW class at the time. So, since here on the east coast of the USA, rail buggies were mostly made from raw steele tubing and your imagination.
I looked at all the cars running at the time and built one from all the ideas I liked. About time I got the car running and getting hang of it the track did away with the VW class. So I turned to drag racing since they had national classes and you could run VW's at any drag strip.Yes, my father was with me during most of my racing days and was very close to me. He loved it as much as I did.
The green car was was later re-built to become a class racer and was painted black and gold. The car now has fiberglass parts and was simply nicknamed "Bug bomb"... This is Valerie, Rickie oldest daughter, who strikes a pose in front of the car.
- Why choosing the Preston wunderbug? Was it a bargain for that time? Do you remember the Race Shop lettering and covering it with the Mc Garity on?
After trying bracket racing for a while, I wanted to go national class racing. So to get that head start, I decided to find a the best available car at the time. My dad and I went to the Spring Nat's to see what was the current, best car running.
That is when I met John Preston. He wasn't selling the car at the time because he was running for his divisional title. Later that year, I saw it for sale in the national dragster mag and the rest was history.
It was the best deal for us at the time because it cut our learning curve down to a fraction.
John surprised me when we went to get the car as he had put my name on it. I am not sure of the persons name I sold the car to because he did not contact me much after the sale. But I did see it later at an IVWA race and it would almost break your heart to see the car painted all over a dull pink!! I think I saw an ad for it for sale in an article. We raced the car as much as we could in both NHRA & IHRA sanctioning bodies until they did away with Modified Eliminator Classes. That's when IVWA came along.
Indoor car show for the race Ghia... Not Rickie's lovely wife Pat striking a pose next the car.
- What is your best memory racing that Ghia?
My best racing memory of racing the Ghia was at the 1977 IHRA Dixie Nats. at my home track at Atlanta Dragway. I went all the way to the Finals and just missed winning by one foot. But driving down the track with 40,000 fans cheering you on to beat the Fords & Chevys was a site I will never forget.
Read more on page 2...
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A FRENCH TRIBUTE
TO THE PIONNEERS OF VW DRAG RACING
HOT VWs - MARCH 1980
...EVERY CLASS HAS HIS TOP CONTENDER...
As usual, what better way to describe a vintage race car than period writings... Below is the complete article by the Jere ALHADEFF...
That's right, we don't care if the sport is boxing, baseball, football, off road racing or drag racing, each and every sport has what is termed its top contenders. For sure you could say that Ray Leonard, the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Malcom Smith, and large papa Don Garlits aren't also rans.
When you run nationals events, you need all those decals for contingency money...
In the sport of VW drag racing you can add one more name to the list of top contenders for overall honors to those of Bill DUNCAN, Gary BERG, Lloyd MOSHER and others - Rickie Mc GARITY.
When Rickie Mc GARITY first began his racing exploits in 1971, he was racing a dune buggy on short oval tracks. After a year of going in circles, Rickie decided to switch his efforts to et bracket drag racing. Rickie bracket until 1975 when he purchased the John PRESTON "Wunderbug" Ghia and began class racing (drag racing in a designed class).
It was in 1977 when Rickie began to branch out and built his first A/MC racer. The first A/MC racer was successful and set the class record in 1977, but it proved hotter than expected in 1978.
Interior is almost stock except for roll bar, gauges and shifter.
After qualifying in first place at the Country Boy National Open, the event was rained and rescheduled. On the way home from the event the car caught fire on the trailer and proceeded to burn to the ground. The reason for the fire was that this one time the battery cable had not been disconnected and the rain shorted the battery. The rain date for the event was six weeks away, and Rickie purchased this 1967 sunroof sedan, made it race ready for the event, and would runner-up.
Rickie squints out the top of his bug. Nice clean cut guy, right!
ctually, Rickie owning two race cars is not extravagant as it first sounds. Both the L/G Ghia and the A/MC sedan use the same racing engine, so that helps keep the expenses down. Rickie mainly concentrates on the A/MC car, racing it at the National Hot Rod Association events, while racing the Ghia locally, at smaller events.
s we mentioned earlier, Rickie's A/MC is a 1967 steel body.I
n fact, the racer needed all its stock weight, so Rickie has left it stock, only adding a roll bar and removing the rear seat. The dash still features its stock factory radio which still works. The speedometer was replaced with an Accel electric tachometer, and the racing belts are by Simpson. A Hurts shifter with pro handle and Lineloc is also used.
Engine features 88mm Mahle's with 78mm Gene Berg crankshaft. Magneto is by Ronco and blower type fan is used to cool things down.
ickie's race engine is roughly 1900cc and uses a rare set of Mahle 88mm pistons and cylinders connected by Carillo rods to a Gene Berg 78mm crankshaft. The Gene Berg crank is wedgemated to a 6 lb. flywheel which mounts a Kennedy 200mm-2500 lb. clutch. The camshaft is by Cam Dynamics and features .620.in of lift with 348° duration.
Read more on page 2...