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Dick Beith’s Record 1961 Beetle Bonneville Run

by Kenny Hoeschen

In 1961, schoolteacher Dick Beith traveled to the Bonneville Salt Flats and broke the world record for the fastest time in his class with his 36 horsepower 1958 VW Beetle. Beith set the record with a two-way average speed of 101.296 mph, besting the previous record of 77.107 mph set the prior year, also by Beith.

This rare video was captured at Bonneville in 1961 by a film crew and in it Beith describes the modifications he’s made to his humble VW. As he explains, his main competition in the E/Touring Sports class of four-passenger cars with less than 1,300cc engines was a Volvo. Beith made a number of modifications to his engine including adding a Pepco blower. Stick around to the 2:45 mark, and you’ll be treated to the run.

But Beith seems to get everything tuned just right, working overnight, and his VW barrels off down the salt flats to set the new world record.

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