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 ~

We would be more than happy to share any pictures on our website, they have been compressed to display
on this site and are not of the best quality. Please   E Mail   if you would like any pictures in better quality.



So who the heck is Dave Kawell and where did  Kawell Racing Engines  come from ?

Working during his Redondo Beach, CA High School years in the early/middle 60's, maintaining friend's cars and motorcycles to earn the money to keep his drag bike running, Dave was a successful weekly competitor at Lion's Drag Strip in Long Beach, CA.  It was with and because of this dragbike, guided by the help of "older" drag bike mentors at Lion's and CJ "Pappy" Hart, that the love of drag racing and the fascination of making things "go fast" shaped the future. Surfing and a part time job at  "The Pit",  a small foreign car repair shop in Redondo Beach left little time for non performance related activities.

While still in high school,  Dave bought a non running 1956 VW bug for transportation to the beach and work.  Once running, the '56 bug, along with anything else with an ignition key that was available, was taken to Lion's Drag Strip and raced.  CJ "Pappy" Hart, manager of Lion's Drag Strip, organized and held the first ever all Volkswagen Drag Race. Classes included 36 hp stock, 36 hp modified, 40 hp stock and 40 hp modified.  36 hp modified, the class Dave was eligible for, numbered somewhere from 80 to 100 cars with the staging lanes backed up all the way to 222nd St.  Almost running out of gas, Dave won the 36 hp modified class and the resulting trophy is one of our most treasured possessions.

*Note: "Modified" meaning minimum of a header and maximum of a full blown Okrasa engine and/or blower.  Due to funding, Dave's modification was a used but not abused header, the best e.t. was a blistering 19.04 @ 63 mph.

Along with his drag bike, going "fast" in a VW became addictive,  especially after watching  Dean Lowry  who Dave believes was running "Exhibition" (?) in an Okrasa head, 1500cc case engine for Joe Vittone of Econo Motors in Riverside, CA make a 1/4 mile run in the 13's.  Back then this was astonishing, considering show room factory stock muscle cars were running 14's at best in the 1/4 mile.

Wanting to pursue a career in and with Volkswagens, Dave got hired in at Don Burns VW in Garden Grove, CA where he worked as a line mechanic and all of VWoA's available schools in Culver City, CA were attended passed and certified. As previously stated, the original inspiration to 1/4 mile drag race a performance VW was formed by the impressive accomplishments of a gentleman named  Dean Lowry  who was and had been piloting a VW bug in the quarter mile at unbelievable elapsed times and miles per hour !

"The Ghia", the first Karmann Ghia documented and acknowledged to be drag raced and modified into an NHRA Gas Class legal 1/4 mile drag car,  was built and campaigned by Dave Kawell and his partner, fellow mechanic Sam Samaras, while working at Don Burns VW.  Motivated by the accomplishments of  Dean Lowry  and retaining many fond memories of the lunch hours spent at   "Deano Dyno Soar"  on Alton Street in Santa Ana, CA.  Dean Lowry  what more can we say but   "Thank You....you were truly an inspiration"....

In Memory and Honor of Dean Lowry
1928  -  1999

With Volkswagen's lowering of mechanic's commission pay and the introduction of the Type IV bus, referred to by the factory trained German mechanics at the agencies as the "Scheiss Bus",  Dave, as did many other mechanics, left the agencies to start their own VW repair shops or seek work elsewhere.  Ed "Pappy" Riddle of Riddle Machine Co.  along with good friend,  Harry Weber of Weber Clutches, Cams and Flywheels both in Santa Ana, CA,  were impressed with the efforts and performance of the NHRA I/G "The Ghia" drag car.

Interested in getting involved with the performance development of VW engines and VW performance camshaft as well as the machining/rebuilding possibilities of VW cylinder heads and cases,  Ed Riddle hired in Dave to work as Rimco's VW Performance Tech Adviser and began to investigate the possibility of align boring worn VW cases. For a machinist, align boring a block was not the problem, the problem was that O/S main bearings for a VW case were not available as VW only manufactured U/S main bearings for a factory rebuild application.

Not one to be easily stymied, Ed contacted several American bearing manufacturing companies who were totally uninterested in the production of an O/S main bearing for the Volkswagen.  Repco Bearing Co. in Australia was then approached and they agreed to manufacture and supply Riddle Machine with O/S VW main bearings.  Once the German bearing companies, Kolbenschmidt and Glyco, realized the market for O/S VW main bearings in the US,  they jumped in, later followed by Brazillian Metaleve.  The rest is VW history thanks to the efforts of Ed Riddle and Harry Weber.

Riddle Machine Co., now known as Rimco along with Harry Weber were primary sponsors of  The Ghia,   Harry utilized the car as a test bed and development tool for Weber Clutches, Cams and Flywheels, now known as WebCam.

With the advent of align boring and the ability to supply fitted O/S VW main bearings and the ever increasing popularity of the Volkswagen, Rimco's VW machining business grew by leaps and bounds and the need for independent factory trained VW mechanics to properly rebuild the Rimco align bored cases resulted in the establishment of  Kawell Racing Engines  at 208 South Broadway in Santa Ana, CA in a small 400 sq ft garage turned into shop behind our house.  By 1976, our customer work load had significantly increased and room was also needed to accommodate our new Stuska Engine Dynomometer and other necessary equipment.

A 1500 sq ft shop at 1320 E St Andrews, Santa Ana, CA. was found and there as well, due to our rapidly growing customer base and workload, more room was soon needed and an adjacent 1500 sq ft shop was added as well as an additional 2000 sq ft for customer car, inventory and materials storage.  Kawell Racing Engines  remained at this location until 1989 when the decision was made to "semi-retire" and move to NW Tennessee where it remains active in it's current 6,000 sq ft facility.  Innovative in Volkswagen N/A and Turbocharged performance as well as Mopar 4 cylinder inline, V6 and V8 Chevrolet engine building, N/A and Turbocharged applications for street, drag, off road, and circle track racing.