The Wales Rally GB isn’t only about world stars like Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, as a VW Beetle celebrating its 60th year is sure to be a crowd-pleaser
While you may most closely link forthcoming Wales Rally GB with World Rally Championship stars, for a fan favourite Volkswagen Beetle it will be a very special event too.
Hereford’s Bob Beales in his Volkswagen Beetle has become a firm crowd-pleaser on the Rally GB stages in recent times. Returning once more this year in the National Rally held alongside the WRC event, the event will mark his VW Bug’s 60th birthday. The rally takes place on October 4-7.
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Many enthusiastic privateer entrants compete alongside their world star peers on the rally and few are as enthusiastic as Beales. He turns 70 in January, has been rallying since the age of 17 and even before that helped with the marshalling on events.
Sporting an orange and black livery inspired by the natural world's Colorado beetle, it has a fascinating past, starting its life in the ranks of a Hereford taxi company, in which time someone managed to roll it!
The car was then rally-prepared by Bill Bengry in the early 1960s before Beales acquired it a few years later. He then competed with it extensively in rallies, autotests and even autocross before putting the iconic car into storage for a time.
In recent years the car, nicknamed ‘Bertie’, has enjoyed a new lease of life competing in many historic events and now is set for a fourth consecutive start of the blue riband event in Wales.
‘We do put a lot of smiles on faces,’ says Beales. ‘I do try to give all those waving in the crowds a toot but only when I have enough hands available to hit the horn button!
‘Bertie was 60 a few months ago and it’s going to be a wonderful way to celebrate in Wales. This is the highlight on the UK rallying calendar and it’s great to be on the same event as all those world championship cars and drivers.
‘We won our class in 2015 and 2016 but sadly were forced to retire from a big class lead last year when a gearchange coupling snapped. That big disappointment means we are really looking forward to making amends next month.’
For more information on Wales Rally GB, including buying tickets for the event, please visit its website. You can take advantage of reduced prices by buying tickets in advance.