Back in 2018, we sent a MK5 Jetta Sportwagen pre-production car on a ‘final voyage’ before it was destined for the crusher. Over the course of a few months, the JSW was built and outfitted for driving across the country and up to the Dalton Highway to the tip of North America’s western coast. To help it survive, we developed protective skid plates to keep any of the unpaved roads it would travel from damaging the KW Suspension-equipped, completely slammed, wagon on its several thousand mile trip. With only a few hiccups here and there, the pre-production car made it to its final destination in the northern Alaska wilderness. This was the inception of the ‘Rallywagen,’ which was re-born the following year as a MK7 GTI. In fact, this MK7 GTI you see before you. It survived a Pan-South American trip after an even more extensive build, covering thirty-nine border crossings, thousands of miles of unpaved roads, and full of three grown men including all their gear. Now, it’s time to introduce the next phase of the Rallywagen and its toughest challenge yet. We’re excited to present to you all the birth of the Racewagen as it stands before you in all its glory.
This high-mileage, abused, and extremely modified MK7 GTI has already lived enough to tell one helluva story. The story to this point you can watch in the Rallywagen series over on our YouTubes, but that’s just the beginning. Now, we’re taking this thing to the track where it truly belongs. All those modifications and upgrades, along with some fresh new ones for its next adventure, will hopefully come into their own as it lays down times in NASA sanctioned events.
If you’ve followed along since the beginning of the Rallywagen, then you know the story so far. If you haven’t, we highly suggest you check out these old Rallywagen Articles and watch the series on YT. For this new Racewagen series, you’ll be able to watch us take the Racewagen and turn it into what you see here, as well as follow along with our driver, Ellen Stingel, as she steps out of her role as Supply Chain Analyst and into the role of Racing Driver.
Yes, we’re taking this MK7 racing. It will compete in the TT4 class where Ellen will learn the ropes of racing through the NASA HPDE driving courses. We’ll bring everyone along for the journey to see exactly what its like to start as a novice with zero experience in racing and what it takes to get to wheel-to-wheel competitive action. Along the way, we’ll all see what the MK7 GTI is capable of with the help of some choice performance upgrades from some wonderful partners. Speaking of, let’s dig into what’s in the Racewagen right now.
Under the hood sits an HPA Motorsports upgraded IS38 turbo, HPA intercooler, ECS Luft-Technik Intake, and a CSF radiator to keep things nice and cool out on the track. Inside the car are three Sparco EVO II seats, two up front and one custom middle-mounted in the rear for brave passenger ride-alongs. Additionally, a Sparco quick-release and steering wheel offers a tactile and simplified interface so Ellen can keep her focus on the road rather than trying to avoid the steering wheel buttons found on the factory version. Completing the interior are the custom-built roll cage fabricated by our own Mike Day of Mike Day fame and finished off with a BFI heavy weighted shift knob.
Doing the handling for the car is H&R suspension coilovers paired with their upgraded sway bars to help the Racewagen corner flat and shave lap times with minimal drama. With the new ECS Monoball upgrades all around, deflection is completely eliminated without inducing any NVH for a consistent feel, sharpened turn-in response, and better power delivery.
Of course, we have a set of grippy tires provided by Tire Source to tackle the traction and keep the Racewagen between the rumble strips as well as a few other choice performance parts you can learn about in the upcoming series. Yes, this will be the Racewagen’s debut and the Rallywagen’s biggest challenge yet as we actually take it racing. So follow along as ECS Tuning joins the field in grassroots motorsports beginning this weekend. By the time you’re reading this, the Racewagen has already endured its first weekend at Mid Ohio for its introduction into NASA racing, but you can follow along as we update you on social media as well as our upcoming YouTube series.
We would like to extend a massive thank you to all the partners who made this venture possible. H&R, LIQUI MOLY, Hawk, CSF, iABED Industries, NASA, Tire Source, and APEX Wheels.