Bertie’s 60, but eager for her next race

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Rally fans love 60-year-old Bertie | Dayinsure Wales Rally GB photos

The World Rally Championship features the latest-generation of fast and nimble cars from the world’s automakers, and you can see them compete October 4-7 in the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB in the British Isles.

But a special feature of the event is the WRGB National Rally, a competition that shadows the main event and is open to what organizers term “plucky private entrants.”

Among those entrants again this year is Hereford resident Bob Beales and his 60-year-old Volkswagen Beetle known as “Bertie.”

Bob Beales and co-driver David Vardy compete in Bertie

As a new vehicle 60 years ago, “Bertie” was owned by a British taxi company, but she showed her eagerness for rallying by surviving a rollover accident. Beales bought the Bug thereafter and competed in rallies, autocrosses and other events before retiring her to storage.

But with the rise of vintage motorsports events, Bertie emerged from retirement to race yet again.

“We won our class in 2015 and 2016 but sadly were forced to retire from a big class lead last year when a gear-change coupling snapped,” Beales was quoted in a Wales Rally GB news release. “That big disappointment means we are really looking forward to making amends.

“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.”

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By the way, Beales turns 70 in January 2019. He started rallying at age 17.

Robert Beales and Mike Leflay as co-driver in this earlier event

“We are now busy changing all the track-rod ends and spanner checking all the nuts and bolts to make sure they are all okay for rigors ahead,” he said. “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 to fund everything.”

He added that, “Being at the back (of the starting order), 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 do put a lot of smiles on faces,” he added. “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!”

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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