Bertie back for more after 60 years

Riley Riley

As a one-time Beetle tragic I can identify with the smile on the faces of these guys.

Some crazy Brits have brought an old Beetle out of mothballs to rally in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

Unlike most other major sporting series, the WRC allows plucky private entrants to compete alongside their more illustrious peers, just like Bathurst in the old days.

Few fit the ‘plucky’ tag better than Hereford’s Bob Beales in his ‘Bertie’ Beetle.

Built back in 1958, the never say die Beetle is celebrating its 60th birthday doing what it does best in the Wales Rally GB which shadows the main WRC event.

The 60-year-old Beetle has a colourful past, having once been used as a taxi in Hereford where one of hapless drivers managed to roll the car.

The car was salvaged and rally-prepared by the legendary Bill Bengry in the early 60s before being acquired by Beales a few years later.

Beales competed extensively in rallies, autotests and even autocross before he put the charismatic air-cooled car into storage.

In recent years, however, Bertie has enjoyed a new lease of life competing in many historic events and now is gearing up for a fourth consecutive start alongside the world’s rally elite in Wales.

Bob Beales in his crowd pleasing Bertie Beetle on Dayinsure Wales Rally GB 4

“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,” Beales said.

“That big disappointment means we are really looking forward to making amends next month. 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.”

He admits however that it’s not going to be all plain sailing out in the stunning Welsh forests.

“Being at the back, the gravel stages can be a bit rough after all those four-wheel-drive cars have been ripping up the tracks . . . but we cope.”

“We are now busy changing all the trackrod ends and spanner checking all the nuts and bolts to make sure they are all okay for rigours ahead.

“I’d like to get some new bits for the rear suspension but it’s money and, even though we do have a number of very kind sponsors who help with some of the bills, being a pensioner, it’s difficult fund everything.”

Indeed, the enthusiastic Beales turns 70 in January and has been in motor sport for most of his life.

He started rallying aged just 17 and, even before that, helped with marshalling on events.

Now he and Bertie are becoming fan favourites on the illustrious World Championship stage.

“We do put a lot of smiles on faces,” he said.

“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!”

Bob Beales in his crowd pleasing Bertie Beetle on Dayinsure Wales Rally GB 2

CHECKOUT: Old race meetings pull the crowds

CHECKOUT: Series explores our ‘passion’ for cars

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *