Kenneth Hansen has revealed that his family team came close to building the Volkswagen Beetles that dominated US rallycross during the second half of the 2010s.
Speaking in the book Fourteen, by renowned rallycross journalist Hal Ridge, Hansen said that the German manufacturer contacted a number of teams in Sweden before opting to go with Hansen, which would’ve collaborated with French sports car constructor Oreca on the project.
“Volkswagen visited some teams in Sweden and in the end decided to go with us,” Hansen said in the book.
“We had proposed a plan to work closely with Oreca for both the chassis and engines, but we would build the car, deliver it to America, and help Andretti to run it.”
However, the plan never got off the ground, with Hansen apparently feeling unhappy with some elements of the project, and both sides parted ways, albeit amicably.
The original incarnation of the Beetle was developed by Seat Sport – part of the wider Volkswagen Group – and debuted midway through the 2014 Global Rallycross season.
After being powered by a World Rally Championship-derived 1.6-liter engine in 2014, the car switched to a 2.0L engine the following year – an engine it would later share with the World Rallycross Championship-winning Polo R. A second Beetle, developed in-house by Volkswagen Motorsport, arrived in 2017.
Under Andretti Autosport’s stewardship, it embarked on a five-year spree of drivers’ titles in GRC and Americas Rallycross.
After flirting with both Seat and Hyundai, potential partnerships that were also discussed by Hansen in the book, Team Hansen partnered with Peugeot Sport in World RX.
It split with the French brand at the end of 2018 but went on to win the world championship the following year using its old factory-developed Peugeot 208s. It also competed alongside Andretti at the Nitro World Games in 2018 and ‘19, coming out on top both times. Ironically Hansen’s son, 2019 World RX champion Timmy Hansen, will race for Andretti in the inaugural Extreme E season next year.