Volkswagen may have gracefully bowed out of motorsports, but it’s not like all the fans of the brand have bowed out with them. There are a lot of people still excited about and enthralled with the concept of Volkswagens being used to race, whether it be on the drag strip, in rallies, or around various international raceways. Now the average race car driver obviously isn’t thinking about “where is a Volkswagen dealer near me?” while out on the course because they already have one. However, the average person watching the race and being impressed with some of the feats being accomplished on the track are probably thinking about a Volkswagen dealer near them because the vehicles look so darn impressive out on the track.
I’m sure some people are even a little nostalgic about the automaker’s stint in trying to be the fastest brand on the block within their respective racing segments. Despite Volkswagen pulling out of motorsports to focus on their electric vehicle efforts, this piece isn’t just about another list of the recognizable or popular Volkswagen vehicles that you see every day on the streets. Instead, we wanted to celebrate when the German automaker thought it prudent to test their engineering mettle against the best in the world. So all that being said, we thought it a nice gesture to reminisce about some of the neat feats Volkswagen has made in the world of auto racing. If we missed anything, definitely feel free to let us know.
Golf GTI MK3 Twin-VR6 Turbo vs the World
When you can’t beat the competition with one motor, why not try two? The Golf GTI MK3 running twin-turbocharged VR6 engines is a real marvel. Running twin ECUs, twin exhaust, twin cooling, and twin drivetrains, this Golf is double the race machine on a single chassis. The Golf MK3’s owner, Bruce Morehouse, keeps everyone updated on this monstrous pet project, which you can follow over on his Instagram page. Some enthusiasts have lovingly referred to the Golf MK3 as a bi-moto monster, and it makes sense given that it has two engines in the front and back and no space for a trunk, essentially making it a V12 Volkswagen.
The way it’s setup is that Bruce has each engine attached to an axle, so it’s both a front and rear-wheel drive (when turned on and run together, it becomes an all-wheel drive). This mini-monster Golf has sequential dual-shifting, with a gearbox for each transmission. Bruce attempts to synchronize the throttle bodies to shift for each engine at the exact same time. Independently the front and rear can generate over 720 horsepower each, and together it can produce close to 1,500 horsepower.
The Golf MK3’s dual-drivetrain makes it a real freak on the track to contend with. It’s a unique setup that performs really well against all manner of competition, taking on all comers and capable of topping out at nearly 200 miles per hour4. The Golf MK3 has left its mark as one of the most powerful Volkswagen Golfs around, and the fact that it’s a twin-engine subcompact just makes it that much more impressive.
Polo R WRC Rally Car Takes Monte Carlo in 2014
Sébastien Ogier drove like his life depended on it during the 2014 Monte Carlo rally in France across 15 different stages, spanning nearly 240 miles of road back in January of 2014. Ogier pushed the Volkswagen Polo R to its limits, trudging through treacherous winding roads filled with ice, sleet, snow, dirt, and mud. With help from Julien Ingrassia as his co-pilot, Ogier toughed it through each stage to just barely eke out faster times over his competitors and eventually rack up enough championship points to take home the win.
He scored the fastest times across six other stages and cumulatively had the fastest times across the entire event, securing him a win in the main WRC standings and putting Volkswagen at the top of the heap. This was all thanks to the fine-tuning of the Polo R, which featured a turbocharged 1.6-liter that could output 315 horsepower at 314 pound-feet of torque. It is one of the snappiest rally cars to ever compete. It’s no wonder it racked up as many wins as it did with Ogier behind the wheel.
Despite the manufacturer pulling out of motorsports, the history that racers like Ogier accomplished in the sport is still visible for all the world to see, including onboard footage of his very dangerous and impressive Monte Carlo run. What made it so impressive was the changing weather and road conditions that required Ogier to adapt on the fly while maintaining a pristine amount of speed in the process. If it sounds too good to be true, you can see said run yourself since it has been archived courtesy of FIA World Rally Championship6.
Volkron “The Beast” Drag Racing Beetle
Drag racing? A Beetle? It doesn’t seem like two things that should be said together in the same sentence, and yet this ‘roided up little beast more than earned its stripes on the drag strip. Volkron “The Beast” is the name of a completely tricked-out Volkswagen Beetle that managed to post some impressive times on the Salinas Speedway at the Festival Import de las Americas 2019 event, which took place in Puerto Rico.
The Volkron stands out among its peers not only due to its incomparable audible output to be a Beetle but because of its equally beastly livery. The Volkron has a very intimidating guise, with a musclebound mascot busting out of the side of the C-pillar like some kind of 1990s animal-with-an-attitude mascot. It fits the look and performance of the tricked-out Beetle. It basically looks like the nickname it’s been given.
As far as performance is concerned, Volkron managed to zip from the starting line to the finish line in an impressive 7.18 seconds at nearly 190 miles per hour in the quarter-mile drag race. This beefed-up Beetle is running a front-engine, air-cooled powertrain, opposite of the usual rear-engine setup typically found in most old-school Beetles. Custom forged intake, a massive turbocharger, and a flat 4-cylinder setup powers this unconventional drag strip prowler. The real trick here is that it’s running on the classic Volkswagen platform, much like Herbie “The Lovebug,” only Volkron is far from showing any love on the street or in a race. In fact, with its times, its noisy output, and mammoth horsepower, it certainly lives up to its moniker of being a “Beast.”
Volkswagen Touareg 3 at the 2011 Dakar Rally
The 2011 Dakar Rally ran for two full weeks, putting drivers through some grueling off-road conditions in order to fight for the championship spot. By the time stage 9 had popped up, the event was already a week underway; tensions were high, and racers were feeling the burn. Two of some of the best drivers in the world were vying for the top spots in the 2011 Dakar Rally race and found themselves going head to head during stage 9 of the 13 stage event, which took place across the Argentine and Chilean border.
In particular, event-favorite Carlos Sainz and co-pilot Lucas Cruz were racking up some impressive wins across each of the stages. However, each win was being challenged by fellow Volkswagen teammates, Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-pilot Timo Gottschalk. The two Volkswagen teams were consistently trading wins across each stage, with Sainz usually coming out ahead. Al-Attiyah had every intention of winning the rally and bringing home a victory both for himself and for Volkswagen. The dual Volkswagen drivers were set to duel in an unforgettable showdown for the ages.
Paired up in the Race Touareg 3–the popular crossover SUV turned beefy off-road machine–the duo found themselves running nearly neck-to-neck, heading towards the end of stage. In fact, it wasn’t just neck-to-neck racing; it was a back-and-forth battle of trading positions all the way up to the finish line of that leg of the race. They were doing everything but trading paint, as the Touareg 3–decked out in a 2.5-liter diesel-powered twin-turbo, running 5-cylinders at over 300 horsepower–kicked up sand and threw gravity to the wind as each vehicle leaped over mounds and took to the sky, racing heedlessly towards victory.
This was a really unique showdown because neither Al-Attiyah nor Sainz were willing to give up an inch in order to make the best times in their respective Touareg. Sainz eventually scored the stage win, but the win propelled Al-Attiyah to race even harder throughout the rest of the rally, marking downtime in each subsequent stage and eventually scoring the championship victory in a Volkswagen for the very first and last time in his career. Even though the Touareg may have retired from official rally racing, when you see showdowns like the one between Sainz and Al-Attiyah, it’s easy to get that feeling as if you want to find a Volkswagen dealer near you to hop in the driver seat, find a buddy to be a co-pilot, and go trekking through the desert like a couple of rally pros.