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Documentary Inspires Volkswagen Beetle Rebuilding

By: Anthony Fontanelle

With reviews ranging from the very negative to the so-so, the film Dust to Glory is one movie one could not expect to inspire a team. But this is what the film has done for Desert Dingo Racing - a team currently set on rebuilding a vintage Volkswagen Beetle they will field in the famous Baja 1000 off-road race.

The team is composed of members from Felton, Scotts Valley, Boulder Creek, San Jose, and Washington D.C. The members of the team are currently looking to field a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle into the off-road race. The team has until November to assemble the vintage Beetle which they are not only rebuilding but also repairing.

The team was founded by Jim Graham of Felton, California after he saw the Dust to Glory movie. After being inspired by the film to enter the race, he contacted his friend Mike Aquino from San Jose. Aquino is a motorcycle racer but was not instantly sold to the idea of entering the famous off-road race - that was until he saw the movie.

"As corny and cheesy as it sounds, I absolutely saw that movie and was moved," said Aquino. They are then joined by another friend, Cary McHugh also from San Jose. The team also includes drivers, mechanics and team managers.

For their entry to the race, they decided that they will enter the Class 11 category. The category is said to be the cheapest category at the Baja 1000 to enter. The cars in this class are vintage Volkswagen sedans. More specifically, the Volkswagen Beetle manufactured before 1982. Aside from that, the vehicle should have as little modification as possible. This means that even changing the VW wiper blade would be an issue for the team.

The Baja 1000 is held very year through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. This is where the most hardcore off-road racers gather together to see which cars can survive the more than 1000 mile race course. There are several categories in the race. Aside from stock Volkswagen Beetles, there are also categories for motorcycles, production cars, buggies, trucks, and custom made cars.

Charlie Reynolds of Scotts Valley who was given the task of driving the 1969 Beetle said that he likes the challenge offered by the sport. "It's more about figuring out problems and overcoming hurdles than it is about driving fast. You're more interested in not getting stuck and defying the odds of making a little car go a thousand miles it's not supposed to go," said Reynolds.

Aside from conquering the terrain, teams should also be on the lookout for booby traps. Through the years, the race has been known to be sabotaged by spectators. Although spectators create booby traps for the racers, these are not intended to injure the drivers. Instead, they are only done for the entertainment of spectators. But the fact remains that these traps can lead to injuries on the part of the driver. Therefore, teams are forewarned to be careful of places where large crowds gather in remote parts of the tracks because this could mean that they, of course, may be booby trapped.

Desert Dingo Racing tough is willing to face this daunting task not only for the glory of finishing the race. This is because the team is using the race to raise funds for the International Diabetes Federation. According to Graham, they are looking to raise at least $100,000. The concern of the team for diabetic persons stem from Aquino's Type 2 diabetes.


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About The Author, Anthony Fontanelle


Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive.buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

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