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2005 Coalition News
Off Road Directory
Family of 5 1600 Baja Bug Racers for the Future!
1600 5 VW | Baja Bug 5 1600
|| This is the ultimate class
of the Baja Bug. The 1600 5 VW Class places limits on the amount of wheel
travel, size of engine and suspension type. The 1600 5 VW is faster than many
of the other classes. The 5/1600 Baja Bugs distinct lines make it a crowd
favorite. Check out the Photos section for some nice
photos of the Baja Bug 5/1600.
1600 5 VW | Baja Bug 5 1600
Let's look at what has happened to the Baja Bug 5-1600,
the affordable family backyard racecar. These families take great pride in
their cars. They are usually built, prepped, painted, polished, and loved by
their owners, and tight families who love playing together; who can't wait
until the next race for there 5-1600 VW Baja bug.
This is an article by Win Deen, the
Coalition Director. Yes that is Deen becoming one with the cactus of the Baja
Class 5-1600 Baja Bug Rule Changes
The Baja bug (5-1600) SCORE International made this class in
1969 when a VW with the front nose, rear end and all four fenders cut off with
a cutting torch, a make shift roll bar, stock shocks, turn signals windshield
and wipers, and a little larger tires, the forerunner of the 5/1600 Baja Bug.
It was a street legal car coming to race the treacherous Baja 500, hence the
name. After a few races they soon realized they needed to make rules for this
very popular, quickly growing class of funny looking VW's. So the rules stated
stock factory equipped Baja style VW, with limits on the amount of wheel
travel, size of engine, and stock suspension. If you had an old bug to
sacrifice you could go racing with the class 5 1600 VW.
But things are
changing. The new 5-1600 VW is more like Herby on steroids; better parts,
faster motors, stronger transmissions, high tech equipment, etc. Look at the
cost of micro stubs: $1500 for hubs and discs. Then there are new arms for $500
+ and the cost for setup if not done in-house, plus 930 CV's, if you don't
already have them. Then you need longer axles ($350-+). Just when you think the
spending is over, bigger, longer shocks might have to be used. How much are you
willing to spend? Was it necessary to change these rules? Arguments go either
way: easier to prep and more travel. Is it a stock manufactured part? No, but
the Class has definitely evolved into more than Herby. Disc brakes are better
because they are stronger. When it comes to brakes, stronger is safer. If you
don't want them, don't buy them.
Let's look at that argument. Both the
old school and new school Baja Bug 5-1600's VW wins races. Danny Ledesma, in
his old bus stub axle 2 2:0 14" Fox Shocks won the 2005 Baja 500 by 2hrs 15
min. Also, Jeff Sacks' micro stubs w/2.5 bypassed King Shocks' wins many races.
What about the topic power steering? This could be a very
controversial rule change. If the rules were designed for a 'stock' 5-1600 VW
Baja Bug, then in what year did Volkswagen come out with factory power
steering? I don't think they did. Sure, they had CV's, axles, shocks, disc
brakes, dual-port heads, fuel injection, but never power steering. Remember
this is an affordable cost-effective class with every racer on the same playing
field. That's why the rules are so strict. When the rule were made for the
class single port heads were certainly cheaper in the early '60's and that's
what most of the motors came with. If this is supposed to be an inexpensive
class to race, then how is it that adding another $1500 to $2000 to our already
financially strained budgets is going to help the Baja Bug 5-1600?
thinks that to be competitive, you need power steering? I, for one, do not.
Ivan Stewart was interviewed by Off-Road.com about his pro truck. Even though
he does not race 5/1600 VW Baja Bug , his opinions holds true for all racers.
In short, he stated that with technology, cars go faster every year. The faster
you go, the more your tendency to break. When you break, you must then find
better parts that will not break. Then your 5-1600 Baja Bug will go faster. It
is a continuous cycle.
Rules in the pro truck class were designed to
give everyone the same advantage regardless of how much money you have. Rules
are rules. If you repeatedly keep breaking and the parts you need are not
within the framework of the rules, and they cost too much, then SLOW DOWN!
You're over-driving your class. It's a given that your 5-1600 VW will break, no
matter how much money you put into it. Now, finishing is the secret. If you
finish, you win. The one who beats his car to death trying to win the race in
the first 5 miles usually breaks before the first checkpoint. Fastest isn't
always the best. Sometimes in the process you beat yourself. A prime example of
this is Robbie Gordon, a name everyone knows, and one of NASCAR's finest. He
had one win in 8 years of racing. No doubt about it, he's one of the fastest.
But 8 years! Wow! And in some of the best equipment money can buy, he still
breaks. An entry from the 5-1600 VW website relayed how someone happened to
mention he was going to sell his pair of 5-1600 VW Baja Bug racecars and move
up to Class 8. He said," With the same money I've been dumping into my 5-1600
VW Baja Bug, I could've had a nice truck. Why go 70 mph, when for the same
money I could be going 120mph?" Now both his cars will be listed for sale.
I've got news for him, if he tries to race an 8 truck on a 5-1600 VW
budget, he won't be able to keep up with the 8 truck class, which will find new
ways of spending money to stretch the rules like every class does. This happens
in all the classes, spending more leads to going faster and breaking harder.
There is a natural progression to go from affordable racing, to out-of
-control big bucks in the quest to be Number One. So, don't take the 5-1600
Baja Bug away from the family racer, the out-of pocket guy. Don't make it
impossible for this class to grow. There is a reason that we all started with
the Baja Bug 5-1600 VW class, so think about what all the new rules could do to
Sometimes changes are necessary, like when parts become
obsolete or when safety has been compromised. I'm all in favor for change and
the needed changes will bring new blood to our Baja Bug 5-1600 family. This
will provide more competition and ensure the safety of all involved. But when
the recommended changes to make your 5-1600 VW faster or to drive easier are so
expensive and unsafe, you should consider switching to another class if you
want to go faster.
Do we really need power steering on our off road
5-1600 Baja Bugs? Do we want to take responsibility for making this class
unaffordable for the first timer, forcing them into another class, limiting
this class to just old timers? Do we want to cut our class in half? Do we need
to start another 5-1600-S class? In other words, those who can afford it will
jump at the chance to go a little faster in what should remain a low budget
So, am I going to run right out and buy all that new stuff?
Nope! Unless you do.
Note about the author.
Win has spent
much of his life in the Southern California deserts and in the Baja, racing,
chasing, pitting and as a member of the BF Goodrich radio relay team.
1600 5 VW | Baja Bug 5 1600