SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - March 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 40 of 95

Old Red Bruce Meyers And The Meyers Manx Hold An Important Place In BaJa Racing History by Dan Sanchez Photography by Jack Wright The first official Mexican 1000 race is what started a 50-year history of what we know today as the SCORE Baja 1000. No one would have guessed at that time, that a dune buggy would be the first vehicle to finish and win the overall race that became legendary. Back in the late ’60’s, only motorcycles had completed the 1000-mile challenge from Tijuana to LaPaz, Mexico. Most fans and media who came out to witness the first race of its kind had also expected motorcycles to finish the race first. With two champion motorcycle riders, J.N. Roberts and Malcolm Smith taking on the Mexican 1000 on a Husqvarna, spectators and the media were astonished when Vic Wilson and Ted Mangles in a Meyers Manx, finished one minute and 10-seconds ahead of the motorcycle team to win the overall race. The victory cemented the Meyers Manx into the hot-rodding and the American surf culture of the ’60’s, as the vehicle was originally intended for cruising on the beach. With a Mexican 1000 win, the capability and reliability of the vehicle became apparent to any young kid looking for an inexpensive vehicle he could build himself and drive. According to Bruce Meyers, the designer and builder of the Manx buggies, the vehicle was originally created as a way for him to have a vehicle that was better than the home-made vehicles used on the beach at that time. “I always had a fascination with the cartoon vehicles,” said Meyers. “They were small in size, brightly colored and had big wheels.” The inspiration and his experience in the boat business led Meyers to design a fiberglass monocoque body. “The original design was for it not to have doors, but the height of the sides I left to my guys. They told me what felt comfortable and that’s where we left it,” said Meyers. The fiberglass body was made to fit onto a Volkswagen chassis and utilize the drivetrain. The original vehicle is Meyer’s favorite, and calls it “Old Red.” The 1964 buggy is a two-seater fiberglass body supported with steel tubing within it for added rigidity. Old Red is powered by a VW 1595cc four-cylinder that makes about 50-horsepower. The air-cooled horizontally-opposed, overhead valve engine uses a Solex 28, one-barrel carburetor and a tube header exhaust system. The drivetrain is a four-speed transaxle from a 1963 VW, connected to a VW swing axle rear suspension that uses air springs and coil-over shocks. Most all of the suspension and drivetrain are taken from the Volkswagen, including the front trailing arms with torsion bars and conventional shock absorbers. The vehicle also uses the VW hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels. The interior of the Meyers Manx is also very simple. One climbs into one of two VW bucket seats and finds a steering wheel and dash with just the essential gauges. A floor-mounted shifter makes the Manx fun to drive as it was intended to. Approximately 7000 Manx dune buggies were built by B.F. Meyers & Company, it is also the most replicated car in history. The period of significance for Old Red was from its completion in 1964 to the end of Meyers Manx production in 1971. Meyers owned Old Red until 1982 when he sold it to Dick Chrysler. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1970’s that Old Red was restored by Baja racing veterans Drino Miller and Sanford Havens. They painted the vehicle Tangerine Red and installed a new engine. The vehicle looks much as it did in its hey-day, and made an appearance at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 in 2017, where it was used to introduce the Baja Walk Of Fame in Ensenada. The Walk of Fame honors all of the racers who competed in each of the Baja 1000 races in its 50-year history. It was only fitting that the Meyers Manx be an integral part of the celebration, and take its rightful place in Baja racing history. More information and his book, Call To Baja, is available on the website.

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