2021 Event Listings | Event Coverage
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Fur Rondy Grand Prix: Downtown Alaska Street Racing

Courtesy Hemmings Auto Blogs

First, Fur Rondy. AKA the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, the Rondy is a 74-year old, 10-day downtown street festival. You’ve got your mix of traditional Alaskan and street carnival fare, so there's the World Championship dog sled races and MultiTribal Gathering, plus a frostbite Ferris wheel and a midway. And naturally, a road course.

Aside from Pittsburgh and Long Beach, I'm having a hard time coming up with other major metropolitan areas that hold downtown races, and none have the provenance of the Fur Rondy. In a nutshell: Starting in 1960, the Alaska Sports Car Club started running a .61-mile race downtown in association with the Rondy. After the Anchorage earthquake destroyed the course in 1964, it moved onto ice and ultimately became the North American Ice Racing Championship. That attracted drivers like Daytona 24-hour winner Pedro Rodriguez, Chris Cook, Elliot Forbes-Robinson, Dennis Aase, Swede Savage, Bob Bondurant, Judy Smith and our own Satch Carlson (who went on to become quite involved with the race in the Eighties). Sports cars predominated, with light MGs, Triumphs, Fiats, Porsches and the 911-powered Beetle of Jim Hemmesch which is best suited for the conditions; cooling was never a problem for the air-cooled vehicle. As Datsuns and Toyotas came into vogue, they joined the ranks, then RX-7s, with a smattering of American compacts, muscle cars and other interesting warriors.

In 1977, the GP came back downtown; it's moved around since then but now runs a .71-mile course, which is where it was over the weekend of March 7. The only major change looks to have been the addition of a Legends class (Yamaha 1600-powered), which Strohl (who lived for a while in Oregon) says he didn’t think were big in the Northwest. But it's one of the two most popular Rondy classes, about even for entrants with the "Improved Touring"; which includes GTis, RX-7s, Neons and Rabbits. Door- and and snowbank banging are common, but serious injuries are somehow rare, and despite serious speed, there’s never been a fatality (I might credit track conditions that yield slides rather than rolls).

Getting power down is usually a problem, as it's always cold and usually wet. The result is corners taken in a four-wheel drift and, when it’s a high power-to-weight car, a lot of excitement when they put the hammer down. Chad and Jim seem to spend most of their races sideways There's remarkably little mainstream media coverage of the Rondy GP in the US, although it's one of those only-in-America things that sometimes attracts foreign media. But the Rondy homepage has some information, and there are a couple of galleries around.

VW Festival at Harewood House

Story and photography by Alex

The event was held at Harewood House, Leeds, England. Built in 1759, by the late Lord Harewood, Harewood House, home to the Queen's cousin, the Earl of Harewood, provides a wonderful day out for all the family and an excellent location for the event. The House, with its outstanding art collections, splendid State Rooms and fascinating 'Below Stairs' exhibition, is set in spectacular grounds, which include formal gardens and gentle woodland walks. A visit to Harewood offers the opportunity to marvel at the collections in the House, explore the Gardens and Bird Garden, take a boat trip across the lake, while youngsters can enjoy the challenge and excitement of the Adventure Playground! With an extensive program of events and exhibitions, Harewood offers something for all.

It certainly wasn't the kind of weather you'd expect in the middle of August, but despite it raining pretty much constantly from Saturday through to late Sunday morning, the show went ahead. And apart from the mud and associated loss of lanes and disarray, it seems that a good time was had by most. It certainly didn't stop people coming out in droves, and by early afternoon the showfield was looking very full.

The Show and Shine: For some enthusiasts this is was most important part of any show... their chance to show off their project cars and to try to win prizes. The competition is split into different categories which are judged by professional adjudicators. Prizes are given to the winners of each class at the end of the show, which is a great photo opportunity. Congratulations to all the winners, and in particular Peter Wray, the owner of the Beige 1300 Beetle that won the "Best of Show - Air Cooled"....he has owned the car for over 30 years; it has been used daily ever since, has never been painted, and never been welded. In fact he has only ever spent £1500 maintaining it since he purchased it for the princely sum of £800 all those years ago! Those of you that saw it will agree it was a worthy winner; not only was it one of the nicest Beetles we have ever seen, but he had painstakingly spent over 1000 hours polishing the engine and carburetor with a toothbrush....not chromed, but polished! Amazing!

It was great to see a much more balanced split between AIR and WATER this year, probably assisted by the camping on the Saturday and the fantastic support by some of the air-cooled clubs. This was our first tentative step to a two day event, and it is safe to say that we learnt a lot from the experience. After all they say, " What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger".

For more on this show go to http://www.vwfestival.co.uk. You can see pictures of the event and check out the winners of the Show and Shine and tickets raffle winners as well. I would like to give a HUGE thank you from myself, Paul, Kev, Shirley and Shane, to all the volunteers that helped us to ensure the show went as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

See you all next year,


16th Annual Volksfest

Story and photography by Guy Perron

On Sunday, under a beautiful sunny day in the municipality of Embrun Ontario Canada, Volkswagen enthusiasts were gathering to share what they love the most: Volkswagens. This one-day event is a non-judging Volkswagen car show. Whether you have a VW air cool or a VW liquid cool, the public has a chance to see Beetles, VW buses, Westfalias, Kharman Ghias, Dune Buggies along with new Beetles, Golfs, Rabbits, Siroccos, Cerrados and etc.

On Sunday morning, a dozen of us (members of the Capital City Volkswagen Club) left from Ottawa towards Embrun, which was a 25 minutes ride. Every one of us had a smile and was anxious to get to the biggest Volkswagen car show in Eastern Canada if not in Canada, but that we did not know until…We arrived in Embrun at around 8:45 am. Surprisingly, the site was already packed with German cars from all over Ontario, Quebec and some areas of the United States. We all had the feeling that there would be a lot of "folks" (volks…cough) for this 16th edition of Volksfest.

Year one of Volksfest had 90 vehicles on display. In 2005, Volksfest recorded 300 vehicles; then in 2006 it went up to 350 Volkswagen cars. This year, Volksfest recorded a phenomenal 425 cars. The Volksfest show is situated in a large park with plenty of trees providing shading areas and even with 425 cars there was still some space left for more entries. Can't ask for a better location!

The entry fee is only 5 dollars per car and Volksfest chief organizer Bob Lyons and its volunteers make donations to various local charities. Entrance to the site is free for the general public! Overall we all had a fantastic time and everyone on site had a chance to either buy a "nostalgia" souvenirs, toys, books or purchase brand new Volkswagen parts.

See ya next year!

For more information: www.volksfestautoparts.com

Punch Buggy 4 SickKids

Story and Photography by Wayne Dean

Downtown Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square experienced a Beetle Invasion when more than thirty Classic Volkswagens showed up for a charity event to raise money for the Sick Children's Hospital. This was the second year for the Punch Buggy 4 SickKids Beetle Invasion and organizer Mitch Petty couldn't have asked for a better location or weather for his show. "My inspiration comes from my daughter Veronica who got a bad blood infection and spent a lot time at Sick Kids", says Mitch. "Since then she has been diagnosed with a kidney abnormality which means we will be regular visitors to the hospital for monitoring."

The event got underway at 8am and before long one of Toronto's most famous intersections was swarming with Classic Beetles and Busses. Local sponsors really stepped up with Mattel donating over 2,000 Hot Wheels that were sold for charity during the day and M&M Meat Shops generously donated their Mobile Barbecue Unit to sell hot dogs and hamburgers for the cause to the hundreds of visitors that were busy snapping pictures of the world's most recognizable vehicle. During the event, which ran until 6pm, award winning artist Kim Koren and her friends kept everyone "grooving" with sounds of the 60s and 70s that were a perfect match for the "Hippie Era" when these vehicles were the most popular imported cars on the road.

An email sent to Petty summed up one parent's feelings about the event. "I just wanted to say thanks for the Sick Kids fundraiser this weekend. We noticed the Volkswagens from our son's room at Sick Kids Hospital on Friday night but didn't realize the connection. On Saturday my son and I were out for a walk and ended up at Yonge-Dundas Square where we found out what had been happening the night before. After picking up a Hot Wheels for my son, eating a hot dog and checking out the VWs, we headed back to the hospital feeling great, having been reminded that so many people care a lot about what sick children have to go through. Thank you."

Punch Buggy 4 SickKids raised $12,000.00 for The Sick Children's Hospital last year and should exceed their goal of $20,000 this year. Thanks to all that donated and to the VW owners that collected donations for this great charity and for taking the time to show up and show off their Vintage rides. See you next year!

Nepal VW Beetle Rally

Story and Photography courtesy of the BBC

Dozens of Volkswagen Beetles - also known as Bugs - have converged on the Kathmandu area for the sixth rally run by An-Bug - The Association of Nepal Beetle Users Group.

An-Bug President Gopal Kakshapati says hippies driving to Kathmandu in the 1970s brought the iconic car to Nepal and this is his sixth one. The frog-like design is by his daughter.

There are 84 listed Beetle owners in Nepal. The rally was flagged off by Beetle owner and German Ambassador, Franz Ring, who says there was even a Beetle club in Burma.

For Satendra Bajracharya, Beetles were "a childhood obsession". He bought this one seven years ago: "It was junk. I restored it gradually." The sponsorship is for this event only.

Anjam Bisht (left) bought her cream Beetle third-hand, about 25 years ago: "I feel secure and safe - there's solid metal around me. I've been hit by a minibus without realizing."

These children happily squeezed into the back seat. The event's proceeds will fund two new teachers for a rural school and also pay for operations on children with cleft palates.

"I also have a Nissan but on weekends I prefer a heavy, sturdy car like this - it's a matter of passion," says Anup Maskay. His father bought the Beetle in 1980.

Beetle owners prize their cars' classic interiors as much as the exteriors. Many enthuse about the cars' reliability - but one woman says spare parts have to be imported from Brazil.

During the rally, one of two of the Beetles did fleetingly fail the reliability test...

...but they did reach their string of destinations including the world-famous Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu.


Story and photography by Audra Brousseau

On the second Sunday in August, the small town of Embrun, Ontario (located South-East of Ottawa) turns into Bugville. Known as Volksfest, this festival plays host to over 300 Volkswagen owners and enthusiasts.

All Volkswagens, vintage and contemporary, are welcome to participate in this un-judged event which attracts vehicles from Ontario, Quebec and New York State. Admission is free to the general public and people can be seen meandering around the cars and engaging in discussions with owners and their fellow VW fanatics.

The atmosphere is amiable and most owners will invite you to sit in their car and encourage you to honk the horn while they share their Volkswagen's history. There are several vendors (at this sponsored event coordinated and hosted by Bob Lyons) providing an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to purchase Volkswagen parts and memorabilia.

Local VW clubs look forward to this growing mid-summer event as an opportunity to come together. Feel free to visit the Capital City Volkswagen Club for information on next year's event.

22nd Annual Circle Yer Wagens

Story and photography by Steve Covington

The Appalachian Volkswagen Association held it's annual show October 1st and 2nd. "Circle Yer Wagens" is their claim to fame, with this being their 22nd show. It was staged at the Sevier County fairgrounds, in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.

The weather couldn't have been nicer. This annual get together brings fans from all over the country with a shared passion for our beloved Volkswagen. From daily drivers to all out street rods, every base seemed to be covered. Some of the nicest cars in the Southeast made it out to strut their stuff.

Not only were there nice cars, there were plenty of vendors on hand for this two day event hocking new and used parts. From the rare to mundane, if you needed it, someone there probably had it.

And let's not forget about the Boy Scouts who showed up bright and early both mornings to serve up hot breakfasts which included everything from biscuits and gravy to all out full plates of pancakes and sausage topped off with free coffee.

The festivities included burnout contests, engine sound off, and stereo sound off competition. Our friend Bruce Simurda made it out from Hot VW's to snap some pictures and do a story for an upcoming issue. Also making an appearance was Jake Raby from Massive Type 4, to talk shop about the popular type 4 conversion.

It was a trip worth making and will definitely be made again. The location is beautiful, the time of year perfect, and the people are great too! If you get a chance to make a Southeastern show, check out "Circle Yer Wagens". Do yourself a favor and check it out next year!

24th Annual Bug Out

Story and photography by Wayne Dean

Let's go back to 1981; Raiders of the Lost Ark was playing at the movies, Steven King wrote the novel Cujo, and the first Bug Out VW Show was held. Fast-forward twenty-three years and Harrison Ford is still making movies, Mr. King is pumping out more best sellers, and people are still attending the 24th Annual Bug Out held in Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario Canada.

The KW Bug Club is a great organization of VW enthusiasts that put on one of the nicest VW events in Southern Ontario. This year's event brought in 106 show cars and drew about 400 spectators. Once again, the show maintained its tradition of participant judging. Participant judging means that all show car entrants are eligible to vote for their favorite VW in each class. The Kitchener-Waterloo and Area Bug Club believes that this method of judging is consistent with the Club's belief that driving and showing your beloved Volkswagen is about fun and social interaction.

Known for their unique awards, the crew at the KW Bug Club outdid themselves this year. The trophies featured a gold metal Beetle perched on top of a glistening base that had a plate with the class engraved attached to it. Anxious owners could hardly wait until the end of the day to see if one of these beauties would be added to the mantel at home.

As usual the day was picture perfect with the sun shinning and a gentle breeze helping to keep everyone cool. There was an especially large turnout of Buses this year, with the Type 2's almost outnumbering the Bugs. Ghia's, Trike's, Kit Cars, Dune Buggies, Sand Rails, Baja's, Things, and Type 3's rounded out the show, with almost every Volkswagen represented at the 24th Annual Bug Out.

As for next year, the club will be celebrating 25 years and have some special plans in store. I've heard that the Bug Out may be expanded to a two-day event, with a cruise and overnight camping. So get out your camping gear and plan to head to Kitchener Ontario next summer, because this VW bash is going to be a big one!

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