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 "Race Bus" The Race Bus

Oh brother....talk about a bad joke getting worse !  So there we were at the back door of our shop in Santa Ana, CA dynoing an engine and a young man walks up and asks if we want to buy a bus....Dave says "No" and the young man walks away.   Rolling down the overhead door to go home that night, Dave sees the bus is still parked out back ? It stayed there for months before the young man came back and said "Well, if you don't want to buy it, here's the pink slip".  Dave told him he needed to move it and that we didn't want it but the young man just started to wander off into oblivion.  Dave ran after him and gave him a couple of hundred bucks for the bus.

Bus sat there for several months until our landlord told us to either put it inside somewhere or move it.  Went over to look at it and it was apparent that the young man had been living in the bus before abandoning it....yuck ! !  Conned a good customer, Sandy Stuart, into raking and hosing it out.  The outside was in excellent condition other than the roof drip line was rusted thru all the way around so it was cut off below the window line.  With the roof off, Bill Savage of  T-Mag Welding,  three doors down from us and of Score off road fame, offered to build a roll cage for it to keep the poor thing from being a Flexi-Flyer.  Engine was shot so a 1755cc dual Kadron engine (69mm stroke by NPR 90mm pistons) was assembled and the bus became our parts car.  Way cool driving a "vert" in So Calif !

We were running  Hot Sauce  by then and John Smith, of NHRA I/G  Super Bug  fame was stopping by and helping around the shop and asked if he could tow  Hot Sauce  with the bus at the next races....Why not ?  Had I only known what was to come !

The Race Bus

Orange County International Raceway
KRE customers Sandy Stuart and Roy Dalton in the back, Dave is in  Hot Sauce  and I guess John and I are in the bus ?


At the track, John Smith, being a racer, asked if we minded if he "ran the bus through" while Dave was fooling with  Hot Sauce.  The bus ran high 19's or low 20's with the 1755cc Kadron motor.  It was the beginning of the end....and of course being the idiots that Dave and John were, the compression was dropped and a race gas side draft carburator and turbo were added and the bus dropped into the low 15 second bracket in the quarter mile. Well hell, what are ya gonna do ? Build a bigger engine of course so parts were literally scraped up to build an 82 X 94 side draft carburated turbo engine. While all this engine building was going on,  Phill Whetstone and his partner, Gary at  Miracle Design  in Santa Ana, CA offered to "doll up" the bus, now fondly referred to as The Race Bus.  We were to bring the refreshments and Phill and Gary would do their thing.  Never having lettered the side of a, as Phill called it, a billboard and after a whole lot of beer,  Miracle Design,  in chrome letters no less, became larger than life on the side and The Race Bus was forever after called  The Miracle Bus  wherever it went.

O.K., so we got the 82 X 94 gas side draft carb/turbo engine done, trick new AA Fuel Coupe paint job, used 12" slicks off a T/F Motorcycle and a 2500# + (including driver John Smith) bus with a smidgen of juice running low 13's breaking transmissions all over the place.....ker-splat.

Bill Savage of  T-Mag Welding  came up with a plan to break and modify the Spring Plates and mount a type l tranny with stronger and close ratio gears in the bus.  It worked....as long as we could keep John from doing hellatious burn outs.  The Race Bus was also daily street driven, cool paint job, turbo and all as we had kept the registration and plates current.  Bob Clark of VWTrends borrowed the bus to take to Al Martinez's VW Jamboree at the Orange County Fairgrounds where some unknown itchy fingered idiot/s tried to bag the turbo and carb. The neat wood rear deck lid with  Kawell Racing Engines  carved into it was successfully stolen....ignorant idiots, mumble, mumble, mumble....

The Race Bus

John Smith driving - Orange County International Raceway


The Race Bus was also taken to the Glamis Dunes with a set of Dave Beckett loaned 13"+ paddle tires.  To this day, we believe it is the only VW bus, loaded with 9 passengers and "refreshments", to make it up early 1980's trim Competition Hill at Glamis Dunes.

Well things started to get worse, we were now running our new  Frameworks  dragster after having sold  Hot Sauce  to Marv Hillard in Escondido, CA  of I/G  Little Boozer  fame.  The dragster's spare engine, a Hilborn alcohol injected turbocharged piece somehow found it's way into the bus ? and before splattering the gearbox, John ran an 11.13 e.t, can't remember the mph, high 120's ? somewhere up there but the problem, without being able to get it "hooked up" (read splatter the gearbox) it could never e.t. or mph to it's potential

Breaking too many trannies, the dragster's engine was taken out of the bus and an 86 X 94 side draft carb/turbo engine was installed.  Sam Shackleford of the original  The Gear Box Shop  in Santa Ana, CA now known as  Rancho Performance-Transaxles  in Anaheim, CA drove The Race Bus all over the place for us.  Phoenix, Sacramento, Fremont, Carlsbad, everywhere, with Jeff Quinn of  McKenzie's Off Road Performance  and Tom Webster of  The Gear Box Shop  guiding him back to the bleach box and keeping him somewhat under control, that is if anyone could keep Sam under control ?  Sam's best e.t. with the 2100# + bus, less driver, was a 1/4 mile 10.24 e.t. at 128 + mph.

In 1989 when the decision was made to move to Tennessee,  The Race Bus,  which had been stripped and a center driver tube chassis built, the outter "skins" and the new center drive tube chassis were sold.

More pictures of The Race Bus