Jill Kemp has an unusual hobby. When she’s not studying in her native Germany, the 25-year-old can usually be found at the drag strip, where she’s setting blistering times in her beautiful – and very fast – Volkswagen Beetle dragster. Her car is nearly 50 years old, but with a lot of love, care and plenty of Motul, it’s still a force to be reckoned with when the lights go green.
Jill, when did you get your Beetle and what inspired you to build it?
In 1983, my father received a 1303 VW Beetle for passing his driving test. The car had previously served as the family car, as well as a reliable means of travel for the annual vacation to Spain. At that time, it was rather uncool to drive a standard VW Beetle as a first car, which was also not exactly fast with its 50 factory horsepower. So tuning was the order of the day. When my father then visited his first drag racing event in 1985 as a spectator, he decided there and then he wanted to race his car. The following year he took part in the event himself and over the following years optimised the car more and more. In 2018 I had the great fortune and special honour to take over an already perfectly tuned car.
Can you tell me about what you did to it and how much power it has?
It’s a 1973 Beetle with a chromoly cell and meets the FIA’s drag racing criteria that states you must be able to escape from the car in only eight seconds. To save weight, we use carbon hoods, doors, fenders, running boards and bumpers. In addition, KW suspension is installed, which was specially made for our vehicle and sponsored by KW. In the ProEt class we use a 2.5-litre Type 4 engine with billet heads and titanium valves and a shift speed of 8000 rpm. We also have two gearboxes that we swap out depending on the different events we’re competing in.
What's it like drag racing this car? What's the secret to getting a good time?
For me, it still feels special driving this car. After my grandfather and my father, I am now the third generation in this VW Beetle so I have continued a family tradition. The feeling of accelerating from the start, often in combination with a wheelie, is indescribable. As soon as I'm in the line-up, I can forget everything around me and focus fully on the run. Of course, my goal is to improve my personal best or top speed, or try a new set up, so that is what drives me on and makes every run a unique adrenaline experience. In addition to a good reaction time at the start, you need a clean gear change, absolute focus and a great team to set a good time.
What's your connection with Motul and why did you choose to put our lubricants in the car?
Motul has been our sponsor for three years. The contact came about at a trade fair in Cologne. We got along great right away and were convinced of the product right from the start. We use Motul because it really helps to reduce wear and the quality of Motul’s products has exceeded our high requirements. 300V Competition 15W50 is and remains our first choice of engine oil as well as Motul’s gearbox oil and brake fluid.
What success have you had with the car?
So far, I have managed to finish second in a race in France in 2019. At the same time, I made it to third place overall in the ProET class in the French championship. I have always fought my way into the last eight in almost every race and I’m very proud of my personal best of 10.85 seconds over a quarter-mile.
Can you tell us the story about how you got into cars and racing?
My passion for cars and especially for drag racing more or less started when I was born, as my parents have been actively involved for many years. When I was three months old, they took me to a race for the first time. So, in my childhood, it was quite normal to spend the summer weekends at racing events, which was great. My father also took me to the garage very early on, even in the off season, to work on the car, which allowed me to learn the most important basics early. At the age of eight, I had the opportunity to race, which was super fun. The next year I took part in the national and international championship, where I got first and second places several times in later years. When I was too old for the junior class, I stopped being an active rider to be able to concentrate on my studies. But I quickly realised I couldn’t live without drag racing. After a long time thinking about building a second car, my father and I decided that I would drive his car.