Tracy Neu got “the bug” and she is happy that she did. No, she’s not sick. “The Bug,” a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle, cured the racing bug.
Neu got bit by the bug as a child, but it wasn’t until the mother of two became an empty nester that she could finally enjoy the sport from the best seat in the house — behind the wheel of a race car.
“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, women just did not race,” said Neu, 55, of Iron Ridge, Wisconsin. “I always dreamed of being a race car driver. When I took a Skip Barber driving course, I knew even more I wanted to race. My husband, Ron, tried to appease me with a Harley, but then we met quite a few people in oval-track racing.”
They found the 1998 Volkswagen Beetle, powered by a 2.0L SOHC engine, in a local barn, covered in dust. The owner built the car to race on dirt. The Neus bought the Volkswagen, cleaned it up, changed it over for pavement, and went racing in the Slinger Bees class at Wisconsin’s Slinger Speedway last season.
Neu quickly learned that while they could readily find inexpensive GM parts, VW parts were not as easy to come by.
“One night, we broke an axle and lower control arm at Slinger,” Neu said. “Everyone wanted to help us get back on the track, but no one’s spare parts would work. So, we headed home, ordered our parts on Monday, and put the car back together before the end of the week.”
Despite the difficulties with finding parts for the VW, Neu does not intend to part with the Bug. Neu said fans cheer for the car just as much as they cheer for her.
“Conform? No way!” said Neu, defending her choice of car. “I don’t want to drive another car. Her and I are having fun. This is going to be our year.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.