The Beetles 2014-2019

The Beetles had many top-10 hits in the US, collecting an impressive set of records during a high-profile career

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After five-and-a-half years Volkswagen retired the venerable Beetle from rallycross competition at the end of the 2019 season.

The popular machine has been the most successful car in North American rallycross during its time in competition, winning 29 of the 52 races it entered, and claiming a staggering 60 podium finishes overall across Global Rallycross, Americas Rallycross, X Games, and Nitro Rallycross.

“Adapting such a loveable car as the Beetle for the contact sport that is rallycross was by no means an everyday task for us,” said Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets following the car’s final competitive event. “With four-wheel drive and 553 bhp under the bonnet, the Beetle raced its way into the history books of US motorsport. Congratulations to the Volkswagen Andretti Motorsport team, which was virtually unbeatable with the Beetle for five years.”

As the cars settle into their new life of retirement, here’s a look back at the Beetles’ top-10 hits from their tenure at the summit of rallycross in North America.

Tanner Foust - Action

Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Introducing… The Beetles

Volkswagen arrived in rallycross amid much fanfare. The German manufacturer, in partnership with legendary IndyCar outfit Andretti Autosport, announced the foray at the 2014 Chicago auto show in the February of that year, but it wasn’t until the GRC rounds in Los Angeles seven months later that the car made its bow.

Tanner Foust was the driver to debut the car while Scott Speed, who was in the midst of a title fight, remained in the Marklund-built Polo the team had been running in the interim. While the Beetle took a heat win right away on its debut, teething troubles with the car’s 1.6-litre engine led to its weekend ending early. Speed meanwhile took his third win of the season in the ageing Polo.

By the season finale in Las Vegas two rounds later both Foust and Speed were in Beetles. Despite most of the early issues now being ironed out, it was a hard day – and night – for Speed who missed out on a maiden rallycross crown. He finished fourth in the final race of the season after a collision with Bucky Lasek, taking third in the overall points.

Scott Speed - Action

Credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

First podium in Florida

After its cameo appearance in the tail end of the 2014 season the Beetle returned for 2015. This time the rally-derived 1.6-litre engine had been ditched in favour of a more appropriate 2.0-litre rallycross unit.

The switched paid off with Speed claiming a fine second place on the streets of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. It wasn’t a win, but that wasn’t far off…

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Credit: Helena El Mokni/Volkswagen

Speed claims gold at the X Games in Austin

For the 2015 GRC season the X Games rallycross competition – the event that pretty much created rallycross in the US – was split from the national series calendar. It was no less prestigious though and success there afforded the winner serious bragging rights.

After making a strong start in the final, Speed got shuffled back into the pack at the first corner and had to fight his way back through the field. After a tense battle with Brian Deegan, Speed held off a charging Steve Arpin in the final stages to claim a third X Games gold medal, and a landmark maiden win for the Beetle.

Tanner Foust - Action

Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Adding to the Daytona legend

Many legendary names and machines have won at the iconic Daytona International Speedway over the years, and in 2015 Foust and the Beetle were added to the roll of honour, with the American following Speed’s X Games triumph to give the car its first points-paying victory.

In what was the second-ever rallycross race at Daytona, Foust leapt from the second row of the grid and capitalised on an opening lap clash between front-row starters Ken Block and Patrik Sandell to dominate the final. He beat Austin Dyne and Sebastian Eriksson to take the landmark win.

Competitors - Winners

Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

The Beetles hit their stride

Despite the strong start to the year, both Foust, Speed, and the Beetle endured a tumultuous mid-season.

However, as the team returned to LA, the scene of the car’s debut a year earlier, its Misery would end – and in style. There, after five winless races, Speed secured back-to-back wins at the double-header event with Foust taking a second and a third place.

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross then added to the trophy haul in Barbados where it was Foust’s turn to take two wins in a single weekend, Speed finishing second on both days.

Scott Speed Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Beetle Las Vegas Global Rallycross Championship 2015

Credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Speed is number one

After four wins from four in the latter stages of the 2015 GRC season Speed and Foust entered the 2015 season finale in Vegas as the only two drivers capable of winning the title.

It didn’t matter that neither driver extended the winning run, Speed’s third place finish gave him the crown, beginning the Beetle’s unbeaten title-winning streak.

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Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

More of the same in 2016

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross began the 2016 season where it left off, with Foust claiming back-to-back victories in the opening rounds of the season in Phoenix and once again winning in Daytona in round five. Speed came to the fore in the second half of the year, helping him claim a second-straight championship.

Over the course of the season Foust and Speed combined to win eight of the 11 races that year – four apiece – with Speed once again taking the title with a podium finish in the final race of the year.

SpeedGP3RARX3

Credit: ARX Rallycross

10 in a row

While the Beetle’s form in 2015 and 2016 was impressive, it was nothing compared to the run that the car enjoyed across the 2017 and ’18 seasons.

From round seven of the 2017 GRC season, right the way through to the conclusion of the 2018 Americas Rallycross season, the Beetle won 10 races in a row – a record not matched by any other car in modern-day international rallycross.

Speed won three-in-a-row, including the team’s home race at Indianapolis, before Foust won twice in Seattle and again in LA, which would end up being the last ever GRC race.

As the rallycross scene in the US transitioned to the new-for-2018 ARX series, the Beetle remained the car to beat. Foust won the first-ever ARX race at Silverstone, and again at the 2018 season finale in Austin, Texas. In the intervening time, Speed claimed back-to-back wins in Austin and Trois-Rivières in Canada. Once again the Beetle was the envy of the field and Speed was champion.

BighamGP3R2019ARX

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Bigham’s breakthrough

Ahead of the 2019 season Speed left the all-conquering Volkswagen Andretti squad to lead Subaru’s factory effort and was replaced by Cabot Bigham.

The youngster, only competing in his second top-level season, struggled at first but enjoyed a massive breakthrough when ARX returned to Canada. The American shocked the field with a hugely-impressive win in his semi-final. That gave him pole position for the final, which was won by Foust with Bigham a close second, earning him his maiden rallycross Supercar podium.

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Credit: ARX Rallycross

The fab fifth

With Speed out, Foust became the team’s best hope of continuing its championship run. It took until the third round of the season at Gateway for Foust to take to the podium, but from then on he took back-to-back wins, including a dominant display at Trois-Rivières.

Speed ended up sitting out of the second half of the season due to injury, giving Foust a clear run to what was his third rallycross title, and the Beetle’s fifth in the five full seasons in participated in.

“This is a fantastic end to the Rallycross era with the Volkswagen Beetle,” said Scott Keogh, CEO Volkswagen Group of America. “We are delighted that Tanner won the title for Volkswagen and Andretti Rallycross. Every employee will share this joy with us. The Beetle has been a magnificent ambassador for the sport and our brand.”

Following its retirement, the Beetle made one final appearance at the GP Ice Race event in Austria earlier this year. It also features in Foust’s recently-released Quantum Drift 2 video.

GP Ice Race 2020

Credit: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Beetle rallycross victories

2015X Games AustinScott Speed
2015GRC Daytona ITanner Foust
2015GRC Los Angeles IScott Speed
2015GRC Los Angeles IIScott Speed
2015GRC Barbados ITanner Foust
2015GRC Barbados IITanner Foust
2016GRC Phoenix ITanner Foust
2016GRC Phoenix IITanner Foust
2016GRC Daytona IITanner Foust
2016GRC MCAS New RiverScott Speed
2016GRC Washington DCScott Speed
2016GRC Atlantic CityScott Speed
2016GRC SeattleTanner Foust
2016GRC Los Angeles IScott Speed
2017GRC MemphisScott Speed
2017GRC Thompson ITanner Foust
2017GRC Ottawa IITanner Foust
2017GRC IndianapolisScott Speed
2017GRC Atlantic City IScott Speed
2017GRC Atlantic City IIScott Speed
2017GRC Seattle ITanner Foust
2017GRC Seattle IITanner Foust
2017GRC Los AngelesTanner Foust
2018ARX SilverstoneTanner Foust
2018ARX Austin IScott Speed
2018ARX GP3RScott Speed
2018ARX Austin IITanner Foust
2019ARX GP3RTanner Foust
2019ARX AustinTanner Foust

 

Tanner Foust: 16
Scott Speed: 13

FoustBighamGP3R2019ARX

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Other Volkswagen Beetle rallycross podiums

20152ndGRC Fort LauderdaleScott Speed
20152ndGRC Detroit IScott Speed
20152ndGRC Detroit IIScott Speed
20152ndGRC Los Angeles ITanner Foust
20153rdGRC Los Angeles IITanner Foust
20152ndGRC Barbados IScott Speed
20152ndGRC Barbados IIScott Speed
20153rdGRC Las VegasScott Speed
20162ndGRC Phoenix IIScott Speed
20163rdGRC DallasTanner Foust
20162ndGRC Daytona IIScott Speed
20163rdGRC Washington DCTanner Foust
20162ndGRC Los Angeles ITanner Foust
20162ndGRC Los Angeles IIScott Speed
20172ndGRC MemphisTanner Foust
20173rdGRC LouisvilleScott Speed
20172ndGRC Thompson IScott Speed
20172ndGRC Thompson IIScott Speed
20172ndGRC Ottawa ITanner Foust
20172ndGRC Ottawa IIScott Speed
20172ndGRC IndianapolisTanner Foust
20172ndGRC Seattle IScott Speed
20172ndGRC Seattle IIScott Speed
20172ndGRC Los AngelesScott Speed
20182ndARX SilverstoneScott Speed
20183rdARX Austin ITanner Foust
20182ndARX GP3RTanner Foust
20183rdNitro RallycrossTanner Foust
20182ndARX Austin IIScott Speed
20192ndARX Gateway IITanner Foust
20192ndARX GP3RCabot Bigham

 

Tanner Foust: 12
Scott Speed: 18
Cabot Bigham: 1

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross liveries through the years…

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