Larry’s Old Volks Home Land Speed Racing Ghia
Bonneville Salt Flats Race Car:
I arrived at the Salt for World Finals 2009 right as the sun peaked over the mountains. What a beautiful sight. I pulled up to the start line where there were race cars and bikes waiting to make their record return runs. The first car I walked up to was this bright yellow VW Karmann Ghia owned by Larry Monreal from San Bernardino. I asked the gentleman standing next to the car if he was Larry, and he responded that no, he was Jim, Larry’s friend and driver. As with any Bonneville Salt Flats land speed race car and team, there is always a big, long and interesting story. No long stories today, but I do want to share some details I learned by spending a few minutes with Jim that I hope will display what dedicated hot rodders and land speed racers these guys are.
I chatted with Jim Bradshaw for like 10 minutes. Something you’ll experience when you attend a land speed event at the Salt Flats is the people. It’s almost sounding cliche attending my 4th event, but the people are the heart of this amateur racing sport. Jim and I talked about the Ghia you see here, as well as what we do for a living, about the salt conditions and weather, Larry Monreal’s long history, etc. Land speed racers are real people, they are passionate about what they’re doing and enjoy talking about it with you.
Larry Monreal has been coming out to the Salt since 1947 according to Jim. Jim Bradshaw is Larry’s “5th” son and friend. Jim grew up as Larry’s youngest son’s friend and was given the chance to drive. This Ghia is obviously not Larry’s first car, Larry has raced bikes, a belly tank lakester, another Ghia and even the family sedan. Larry’s other Ghia over the years racing on the Salt became too rusty to race. It was sold to a gentleman from across the pond and was appropriately restored.
This yellow Ghia, as you can see from the Bonneville stickers on the fender, has been coming out since at least 2002. There’s also an El Mirage decal or two. Larry is 82 years old now and lives for this stuff says Jim. Larry has a degenerative eye condition and has had some surgeries already. His eyesight is such that he can’t drive anymore. But Larry spends the off season prepping the car and getting ready to run.
Larry has owned a big VW wrecking yard for years and thus, has all he needs to piece together a race car. He uses a turbocharged 1497 cc watercooled destroked Rabbit/Golf inline 4 cylinder and runs in the H/BAGC class (H = 1.01-1.50 Liter, B = Blown, A = altered, G = gas, C = coupe). Larry set the record for the H/BAGC class at Speedweek 2009 and blew his own record out of the water today (10/10/2009) with a two run average of 164.158 MPH. Congratulations! The car is a 1968 or ’69 according to Jim, runs AEM ecu tuning, has a ram air box in the rear quarter window to a water to air intercooler with an icebox. Up front sits an MG radiator, a VW 5 speed transmission connected to a vw aircooled transaxle via a homemade adapter plate Larry had cast, using a wood plate he made himself. Wow!
Jim gives a big thanks to Jon Romero and Mike Mangelli who tune the AEM system for them. Jim says the car was running crazy fast with the latest tune. Way to go on the new record guys! The next goal for Larry in his long career in landspeed racing at Bonneville is to go 175 MPH.
Thanks Jim for taking time out to talk salt! Congrats on your new record, good luck with your future salt endeavors and tell Larry thanks as well!