Neither Dave Kawell nor  Kawell Racing Engines are affiliated or associated with Volkswagen or Volkswagen of America, Inc., General Motors, Inc. or DaimlerChrysler.
Any references to VW, GMC, Chevrolet or DaimlerChrysler and their vehicles or products are for descriptive or reference purposes only and do not imply any association.    So there !

Kawell Racing Engines
787 Miller Loop,  Friendship, TN  38034    (731) 677-2160

All photos on this site are the property of  Dave Kawell dba Kawell Racing Engines
~ Critters Negotiable ~

The Dragster Dragster on the sand
Photo courtesy Dean Kirsten
ASRA Sand Drags - Dave Kawell - Keith Longerot,  Riverside, CA.  Early 80's

The dragster frame arrives from Steve Rhodes'  The FrameWorks,   time to get serious.  Like that could ever happen around our place ?  Dave had never piloted a dragster down the quarter mile and as a favor to me, the little woman, we put the car on the sand for shake down passes and my peace of mind.  Off to somewhere, out in nowhere, that was holding a local sand drag race, Dave, Dean Kirsten, John Smith and yours truly packed up the truck and trailer and off we went.  It had been previously decided that whoever could get the car to run the quickest, between Dave and John Smith, would be the driver, Dave made the first pass, a hundred yard 3.30 something off the trailer.  Giggling and scratching  (as usual),  thinking we were pretty hot stuff as VW sand drag standout Keith Longerot was also there with his NoDoz car and crew running in the low 20's,  John Smith gets buckled in to see what he can do.  Unfortunately Dean Kirsten looked down and saw a major crack in the OEM tranny case, side cover to side cover. Oooops....  We did the only sensible thing any real racers would do, Dean ran for the Nitro jug and topped off the tank, Dave jacked more lead in as I was turning the boost up.  Logic being, if it did make it, it would be a helluva run,  it didn't.  The tranny blew just as John let the clutch out, didn't even move a fraction of an inch forward, just upward.  Blew a hole almost 8" deep in the sand and the only thing holding the gear carrier housing, or what was left of it, in the car was the shift cable.  Back to the drawing board.

**Note:  It was due to Mr. Kirsten's antics with the nitro jug that the four of us became known at the track as
John Smith Presents    "The Dave Kawell Nitro Thrill Show".

Photo courtesy Dean Kirsten, ASRA Sand Drags at Riverside Raceway, early 80's

Dave was determined to make a VW 2 speed transmission work, reason #1. no money for the hot dog stuff and #2. sheer orneryness and determination and #3. it was lite.  Pappy and Jack Riddle helped with all of their machining/materials composition knowledge and expertese.  Dave, with Pappy and Jack Riddle's help, had everything in that 2 speed locked down so that nothing could move even if it wanted to, the end result, it sheered the ring gear and pinion exactly as if they had been machined on a mill, Jack said he couldn't have done a better job if he tried.  Dave, for reasons known only to him ?, is still proud to say he did get an OEM VW 2 speed transmission to run the quickest hundred yards ever, a 3.01 e.t. at Riverside Raceway.  Few more times on the sand  (hey, we even won a race),  but the OEM tranny case was only good for 1 1/2 passes and then ka-boom  One good thing that did come out of this learning, trial and error era was the hardened, thick Pinion Collar that is still being used in VW harsh duty application transmissions today.  But we were ready for the 1/4 mile asphalt by now and had to come up with another bright idea in the transmission department.

Dave's next bright idea was to use a Ford C-4 automatic transmission  (3 speed as opposed to the popular PowerGlide that is 2 speed to keep a load on the engine)  but we couldn't get any of the V8 performance tranny guys to talk to us.  All of the racer-ifics that had seen our original OEM transmission explosion and the ones that followed and heard that Dave was going to use a C-4 behind a VW declared "Kawell must be smoking rope or something".  Lucky for us, a good friend got us in with Art Carr and Art,
as a favor, said he would work with us.  Dave's plan was to use an auto stick bell housing to connect the engine to the C-4.


Pretty snazzy set up but no one was making trans brakes or any other performance parts for a C-4 back then, so power braking on the line, on boost, Dave had no way to hold the car to stage it other than the rear brake.  Bent the calipher bracket, Pappy made us a 5/8" thick chromoly brake bracket, the new bracket didn't bend but the chassis where it was hooked to did.

Dragster C4 OCIR
Photo courtesy R.K. Smith,  Orange County International Raceway, Irvine, CA

The Dear Lord knows we tried but there was just no way to stage the car without a trans brake.    To the drawing board....

More Dragster Stuff  -  The Powerglide

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