READY TO RACE: Kevin Hamilton says his VW could outrun a V8.
READY TO RACE: Kevin Hamilton says his VW could outrun a V8. Bianca Hrovat

The cult of the VW: Beetle-mania descends on Morgan Park

AN estimated 80 million people worldwide have once known and loved a Volkswagen and Beetle-mania has descended on Morgan Park this weekend.

Fuzzy flashbacks of falling asleep in the backseat of his father's 1958 VW Beetle are one of Brisbane resident Lou Guebara's earliest memories.

"My sister would sleep in the pocket behind the back seat as my family travelled from Canberra to Batemans Bay for the weekend,” Mr Guebara said.

"I think I would have been around four years old.”

In front of Mr Guebara stands a similar model to the one of his childhood, with the same red flash of colour down the side, constructed in the same month and year as he was born.

"It's a little bit nostalgic,” he said.

"But when you think about it, everybody you talk to always says something like, 'Oh, we used to have an old Beetle or an old Kombi.

"If you do the numbers over 20 million Beetles were built and a normal car has three or four owners in its lifetime: That's pretty big numbers!”

Lou Guebara with his VW Beetle at Morgan Park Dragway 2019
VW FLASHBACK: Lou Guebara brought his nostalgic VW to cruise around the community, taking a break from racing this year. Bianca Hrovat

But more than the appeal of sweet nostalgia is that of the adrenaline-fuelled fun of hurtling down a drag way in a highly powered, little car.

"People call it the poor man's Porsche but my race car goes harder than any porsche,” Mr Guebara said.

"It's got a twin turbo engine and it's just lots and lots of fun.”

One of Australia's top eight VW drivers, Gunnedah resident Kevin Hamilton, said the beloved Beetles can run rings around a V8 car.

"It's all about the power to weight ratio,” Mr Hamilton explained.

"A little car with a decent sized motor up against a big car with a big motor will get off the mark a lot, lot quicker.”

Mr Hamilton's personal best is 7.02 seconds at the Morgan Park Dragway and he hopes to achieve a faster time this year.

"I want to make top three,” he said.

But with a Beetle that was built for looks, rather than speed, Mr Hamilton faces a fair set of challenges.

"It was never supposed to be the fastest car on the track,” he said.

"It's just about trying to better yourself every run to get that little bit quicker.”

Across the dirt track, under an expansive tent with five cars, is National Hillclimb champion Wayne Penrose, who fell in love with racing when he was just 17.

Wayne Penrose with his VW Beetle at Morgan Park Dragway 2019
WHAT A CHAMP: Wayne Penrose shows off the VW he built, one of many. Bianca Hrovat

The motorsport enthusiast made his first trek to Bathurst in 1985 but missed the race when a car drove over him at the campground.

"I was sleeping in my tent and got smashed up really badly, but it definitely didn't turn me off,” he said.

"During my recovery period I was off walking around Wollongong and saw a beautiful VW Beetle.”

So rather than lamenting his bad luck, Mr Penrose bought his own Beetle and began to build on it during his time off.

"And from there, I turned a hobby into a business,” he said.

"As a VW specialist by trade we help others with their passion, and that becomes our passion.

"We really are living the dream.”