It’s Monday, February 18th, 2013. The location is Lake Gairdner, South Australia, Australia’s fourth largest salt lake, around 150 km Northwest of Port Augusta. Speed Week is held here each year, organised by the DLRA, although this one is more highly anticipated than most. You see for the last two years it’s been cancelled due to rain. All this has done is strengthen Stephen Muller’s (VolksMuller Racing) resolve, and this year he has brought a few unlikely VWs to break some land speed records.
Firstly, meet The Roo Shooter. It’s a 1957 Volkswagen Kombi panel van with a truly dark history. In the late 1950s, it started life as a dry cleaners van, the original signage being still visible if you look through the rusty patina. It then earned its name by becoming a shooters van complete with an array of bullet holes, blood stains and a gun rack next to the driver’s seat. After being put out to pasture for almost 30 years, it was bought and rescued by Stephen and the team at VolksMuller.
The Roo Shooter now features a normally aspirated 1970’s air cooled Kombi engine which has been bored and stroked to 2.7 litres. When asked about why he chose this vehicle, Stephen said “It’s a personal challenge when people say you can’t put a square peg into a round hole…but you can with a little bit of modification and Australian know how.”
This battle hardened VW bus established a new world record of 117.878 mph in the Classic Production Class – engine class H (2 – 3 litre engine). This also represents a record for the fastest Kombi in the world. The previous record was set last year at Bonneville at a speed of 109 mph. Stephen comments, “Dedication of the run was to a friend of mine who lost his life, Mark James.
He used to worship my Kombi knowledge and thought it was unique to a point that he thought we could do a television program, and that’s how our friendship started. So Mark, we’re there, we’ve done it and we haven’t forgotten you.” A new Volkswagen Golf was also part of the VolksMuller team.
The Golf achieved a new Australian record in the H/PS category (Production Supercharged) being an engine of 1 – 1.5 litres. It set a record breaking run of 115.1 mph. The Golf was completely standard and featured a 1.2 litre turbocharged engine. At 39-41 °C on the salt, the air conditioning definitely came in handy. VolksMuller Racing specifically decided on the factory standard 1.2 litre engine to prove a point. That you can go out, have fun and compete straight off the showroom floor.
Rounding out the team, and the record breaking runs, was yet another vintage Volkswagen, a 1956 oval Beetle driven by John Weninger, competing in the 36HP World Challenge. Another world top salt flats speed was set with a pass of 78.332 miles per hour in the Stone Stock 36 Bug category. Stephen reflects on the entire salt racing experience, “The whole trip was fun, getting there, making it onto the salt, being the first Kombi that’s raced on the salt in Australia.
The Golf was the very first water cooled VW onto the salt in Australia. Our team still holds the Australian record for the fastest VW to be ever on the salt which was the Karmann Ghia (127.37 mph).” Rest assured this won’t be the last time we hear of the Roo Shooter or the VolksMuller Racing Team.