El_Dub_design home
- El Dub's NOSTALGIA VW Corner -


    Bug-in time !!!

    Those Custom VWs


    Period literature


          - Rickie Mc Garity

  EMPI - RACE SHOP racers

    EMPI Inch Pincher

    Revell Inch Pincher Baja


    Race Shop Ghia

    Race Shop Fiat 850


    Wunderbug Sedan

    Lightning Bug

    Here Comes Da Bug

    Stutt Bee


    Mouse Trap

  FORGOTTEN racers

    Glass Wag'n

    Italy 1

    Pink Panther

  SLALOM racers

    Aint no Big Thing


    Super Bug'2

  V8 powered racers

    Durachrome Bug


    EMPI Rise & Fall

    EMPI demo cars


Airmighty Page
Back to Main Page...     
1- AIRMIGHTY 37  |    2- AIRMIGHTY 41  |    3- AIRMIGHTY 43  |   

As it's often the case when I'm looking for a theme for your favourite column, it's a post on a Facebook group dedicaced to the mythical and long-gone Orange County dragstrip that motivates, and this one sharpened my curiosity and gave me the necessary inspiration... After all, the opportunities to chat with the owner of a Volkswagen that actually raced at OCIR during the seventies are few and far between, so I just had to delve deeper...

Early pictures of the Mad Pineapple back when Danni owned it... Bob HOFFELD picture.

Admittedly, the dragster in question is not one of the most famous, and I bet that most of you have never even heard of it. But that's no reason not to do a little number on MAD PINEAPPLE, since this is the slightly eccentric name of the car in question - if only to show that there were other high performance Volkswagens in action, other than the icons which have since become world famous...

Yellow perlescent paintscheme in the sunshine. Note Jim Ducther buggy and Lil' Brat Ghia in the background. Bob HOFFELD picture.

You have to admit that this crazy beetle looked great with its peral-yellow colour scheme, applied by B&M paintshop, and its very nicely executed chop-top - especially when we know that this was a first attempt for Danny TURCO, the car's first owner, who also ran the 'Bug Shop' in Los Alamitos, California. The significant number of VW dragsters built by brothers at the time is something else that always struck me, and this one is no exception.

Early pictures of the Mad Pineapple back when Danni owned it... Bob HOFFELD picture.

Built with its brother Paul in one year, with a budget of aroun 9000$, the little '56 oval window was radically altered by means of the well-known winning recipe : top-chop, plexiglass roof, Deano Dyno-Soar front beam, Mitchell rims at the front, fiberglass wings and hood for maximum weight reduction, all mounted on a '63 chassis with aluminium floorpans.

Red plexiglas sunroof is evident on this picture.

The beetle raced in the J/G and Modified Eliminator categories and had been dunked in an acid-bath to strip more wieght of it (1100 lbs). Mad Pineapple had the honour of being featured in the July 1974 issue of Drag Racing USA magazine, which is often the best proof of car's performance, provenance, and the associated recognition, especially when it comes to small beetle in a V8 magazine...
Mad Pineappel kaleidoscope...

Sad to say, Danny TURCO, who was a real daredevil, was killed at the age of 27 in a tragic hang-gliding accident in the mid-70s, and his widow had to sell the car in 1975. It was at this point that a certain Art SAFFELL enterered the scene by acquiring the gasser and I recently had the pleasure of coming into contact with him. He was already an active member of the famous Orange county based DVB club (Der VolksBruckenaufBaue), and it was Danny who did the top-chop on his silver '55, which explains why the two top-chops look very similar.
A proud Art just collected his new toy... Image is a thumbnail...

Art raced the Volkswagen in the J and K classes on the NHRA 7th Division. He remembers that it was very competitive, with a best time of 11.07 at 122 mph on the 1/4 mole, and even gave a few well-known contemporary racers a hard time. He notably beat John PRESTON and his well-known Race-Shop Ghia. At Bug-in 15, Art won the J/G category, probably helped by the extreme lightness after its acid bath.

Removing original lettering...

Art told us a funny anecdote on the subject and mentioned that you had to be careful where you put your hands on the body when you pushed it to the starting area because you could easily bend or deform the sheet metal which was now half as thick as when it left factory...
Mad Pineapple in the staging lane.

Unfortunately, during Bug-in 17 (october 17, 1976), Art lost control of the car after crossing the finish line. The car suddenly pulled to the left (maybe the brakes locked or a shock absorber collapsed, nobody will ever now...) and crashed against the protective wall, shortening the nose of the beetle by a good 15 inches in the process...

I just can't get enough of that Top-Chop shape.

Fortunately, Art got away without a scratch, but he was especially relieved not to have rolled over, as was the case with another gasser (Hot 'N crazy) durint the same Bug-in. I don't need to tell you that he never raced with Mad Pineapple again (as he puts it "needless to say, my girl didn't race again") and that, consequently, the car could not be featured in issue #3 of VW Trends magazine as was originally planned. The beetle was destroyed, but it is rumoured that the chopped-roof endend its life on another drag car from the time named Tuff & Nuff. Is seems quite plausible when you look at old pictures...

This is how the car endend after crashing at OCIR when attending Bug-in 17...

Art has been undertaking the construction of Mad Pineapple Too for several years now. He may be nostalgic about the past, but this new car will not be a replica. Instead, it will be a tribute to the initial version, keeping the spirit of the original car, but using the latest technologies and equipments available on the market today. Art is still a regular at the BERG'S premises... Personnaly, I can't wait to see the result...


Seeing non-Volkswagen cars on this website is an uncommon sight for sure... But I definitely had to show those early pictures of Art's parent with those awesome old sexy Ferrari sports car.

Art father in his race car...

A very young Art proudly posing with his mother sitting in his Ferrari. Those were the 50s...

Family racing picture.

Close up view in front of the VW Kombi used at time... Not the 'Ferrari' signwriting on the front doors...


Art '55 street silver top chop...

Look at the windshield and the top-chop angle... It looks exactly the same as the gasser...

That was a nice street top-chopped bug... I really like the front buggy bar used as bumper...


Below are some pictures of the Mad Pineapple replica Art is currently building. According to Art, the bug is now 90% finished.

Art Mad Pineapple Too sure will look awesome once finished.

Excited to see the final result on a racetrack near you...

Perfect Top Chop... Look at that windshield!!!


In the early days street racing my gray 55 back behind the old Nabisco Cookie Factory building in Orange County and at bugins and after bug rallies etc, soon after I very sadly heard that Danny had been killed while hang gliding on Orange County's Scape country area. That day he loaned his helmet to a fellow just starting out hang gliding, so he wasn't wearing his, Danny hit a down draft and crashed into the side of the cliffs. He passed away at 27 years old doing another passion of his besides drag racing! His brother Paul told me recently no one could get to him for hours because of the disolate area he was and also because Danny's dog was loyally and viscously grading his body. He's buried at Westminster Cemetary.

If I remember correctly I attended the funeral, but know I've visited this grave site. Soon after Danny's passing I heard his wife was selling the Pineapple but I didn't have the $4,000, so a pal Mike Sellers the president of our DVD VW club bought my gray 55 street bug so I'd have the money to buy the Pineapple in 1975.

Danny mostly raced in the NHRA J Gas Class doing 11.30's, wanting to go faster I went to Darrell VITTONE, anyway The Race Shop and had Fumio do me up a set of his full on race heads for the Pineapple, resulting in a best time at OCIR of 11.06's at 122 mph when I crashed it at bug-in 17, I got through the end of the track, lightly touched the brakes and slammed into the left guard rail at full power, when I quickly came conscious the engine was still red lining and I hit the mag's kill switch.

I sprained both my ankles badly slamming them into the fire wall but still managed to got to the OCIR's tower to get the 11.06 time slip which I still have. The Pineapple's original engine that Danny built was a 2180 with Aries slipper skirt pistons, with heads that Danny did himself, he was very talented, it had long Chevy connection rods, Empi 1.4 rockers and 11 to 1 compression. Shortly after getting the car I went through the engine adding Fumio's heads, more compression, 13 to 1 and Sig Erson 1.5 rockers. I'm going to take a break, get back with ya later tonight, your friend Art.

I only got to race the Pineapple for two years at OCIR, Irwindale Race Way and the Sacramento Race Track. I knew Danny pretty well, his shop was in my Los Alamitos neighborhood On Los Alamitos Blvd, a lot of the VW street racers hung out there, my self, Rick Stanchfield, Steve Hankhouse and a lot of the guys in the DVD VW CLUB, Danny was sort of our local VW drag racing hero, he was always helpful making our street cars faster! I had to scrap the pineapple, it was so badly crumpled.

In the early days my VW club DVB had Mike Sellers in it, also Don Bucky, Mark ROSEVEAR who's dad owned AUTO HAUS and a bunch of other great guys. We hung out with the vw club DRF and Der Kleiner Panzers. Roger Crawford who owned the "Bad Company" drag bug and his pal Terry were in DRF, we all street racers in the early 1970's. My VW speed shop was The Race Place and Racers Choice.

DRAG RACING USA magazine JULY 1974 :

Most of the noteworthy cars which shop up on the nation's strips and then on the pages of Drag Racin USA magazine are built or owned by veterans who have learned the tricks with many previous cars. Not so 'The Mad Pineapple'; the first effort of Hawaian Dan TURCO of Los Alamitos, California. The energetic Bug Shop owner didn't simply buy a race, but built most of it - with a year's work and 9000$.

Now, with the showy, professional result, he's more than competitive in J/Gas and Modified Eliminator action. Dan and brother Paul transformed a '56 sunroof VW body with their own chopping and sheet metal work, adding flared 'glass fenders and decklids. Final touches included mini head lamps, plexiglass roof panel and pearl yellow paint by B&M Body Shop.

They also remade a '63 chassis with aluminium floors, '66 brakes, Bilstein shocks etc... and welded up the roll cage. Spun aluminium Becket wheels carrting narrow Michelin tires are light and aerodynamic like the old Moon dics. Cartoon depicting the car's name on its rear decklid cound only be a 'Rim Brante' job. Numerous sponsor tags on his first racer are special encouragement for Dan to move on the national competition from California.

But, at press time, he was truly a 'Mad Pineapple' having blown his best engine while taking shots at the 10.71-121 national J/G records. A best of 11.07-115 prior to installation of the stronger engine is remarkable in itself while Dan is getting his feet wet. Battling famous VW pros such as the Schley bros, Darrell VITTONE and Bill MITCHELL is some challenge for a newcomer, but, on the other hand, they've never faced a 'Mad Pineapple' before...

Art built a '73 VW "4" to 2233cc with 13.2-1 Arias pistons and a Gene BERG stroker crank, using 327 Chevy steel rods and Buick bearings in the process. An Engle V-3 cam, hard chrome pushrods, EMPI 1.4 rocker arms and Manley 42mm intake and 35mm exhausts valves enable impressive rpm. Dan portef and polished his own heads, added two 48IDA Weber carbs and a Vertex mag, and was making 215 dyno horsepower. 4-tune headers, a Bendix electric fuel pump, and Accel wiring are added touches. Driveline consists of a steel VW flywheel, Treuhaft clutch and '66 transmission employing Crown axles and close-ratio gears.

Rear view reveals wheelie caster setup Dan rides when the M&H bite. Stark interior, fitted with Autometer gauges and handy fire extinguisher, was constructed at Turco's shop.

Widened, lowered beetle actually looks almost slippery, something the VW factory never expected of its people wagon.


Copyright 2021 El Dub - All rights reserved.

E-mail : eldub@cal-look.com





Early Porsche 911 was used to tow the Mad Pineapple...

Doing some repairs in the pit area.

Night racing action...