Colin Braun’s time as a professional race car driver has been short but riddled with successes that most dream of. At just 27, Colin has seen victories and podium finishes at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and 6 Hours of Watkins Glen among countless pole awards and victories along the way in IMSA, ALMS, GRAND-AM and NASCAR competition. In 2013, Colin was chosen by Ford and Michael Shank Racing to pilot a Daytona Prototype, shod in Continental race tires, around Daytona International Speedway. The result of the project was two world records – fastest FIA world record 10-kilometers (203.010 mph) (standing start) and fastest FIA world record 10-mile lap (210.017) (standing start). But of all the cars he’s driven, there’s one very special car in his collection.
For 23 of his 27 years, Colin has driven a race car and his love of the sport and desire to race is what drove his family to restore a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. But how did this family project come to be?
“I was racing quarter-midgets and go-karts and we needed a bigger trailer so we went to the dealership,” Colin fondly remembers. “I was five and my brother, Travis, was four and we were both into Herbie from Herbie the Love Bug.” As the story continues, Colin explains that the owner of the dealership asked Colin’s Dad, Jeff, to lower the ramp door and around the corner came a guy driving a beat-up, 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. “It was a junker that they couldn’t sell and the owner liked my brother and I so he just gave it to us.”
At five years old, Colin had no idea that one person would help one family make a lifetime of memories with a ’72 Beetle. Colin and Travis used the junker around their family’s 100-acre property in Texas but at 12, Colin got the itch to restore the car. Colin, Travis and their Dad, Jeff, used every spare moment in between races to restore the car and got it about 50 percent complete when the call came from Roush Fenway Racing for Colin to move to Charlotte to race in NASCAR.
“The car was stuck in Texas but about half-way through my NASCAR career, I brought the car back to Charlotte and finished it,” says Colin with a proud smile.
While on the outside, the bronze classic looks simple and understated, under the hood is a different story. Colin explains, “It’s unique in that it’s not restored to ’72 specs or to 2000 specs.” He continues, “It has a lot of performance stuff on it but looks stock. It’s a bit of a sleeper.”
When Colin says it’s a bit of a sleeper, he means it. In addition to the wide fenders, disc brakes, Continental TrueContact touring performance, all-season tires, and larger anti-roll bars, this bad-boy has a Porsche 911 motor under the hood. Which made for a fun, but noisy road trip up to Virginia International Raceway (VIR). With mostly back roads, and nice weather, driving the vintage car to VIR for a race seemed like a great idea. Until Colin realized he forgot to put the sound insulation in the engine compartment.
“It was a very loud ride up and back,” said Colin with a laugh. “On the way back it got so annoying I was ready to park, get a rental car, and pick it up the next day.”
Fortunately, the car made it home and Colin now brings it out once or twice a month, when the weather’s nice, to cruise around the Charlotte area. The history and sentiment of the car keep it parked in the garage during any bad weather. And when his brother and Dad are in town, a quick drive is always in order. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime project that Colin says will be hard to replicate.
“I’m in Charlotte, Travis is in LA and my Dad is in Texas so it’s not likely we’ll have another project car like this.” He continues, “That’s what makes this car so special. It holds a lot of memories for me. I learned how to weld, welding backend floor pans, on this car and got to spend quality time with my family which is something I’ll always remember.”
Take a look at Colin’s pride and joy – Colin Braun’s Classic Beetle Rolls On TrueContact Tires