Volkswagen has set a record at the Bonneville Salt Flats this week, taking the 2019 Jetta to 210.16 mph miles per hour. Although the record attempt got off to a fitful start, the race team successfully set its record on the final day of competition.
The record stood at 208.472 mph (in its class and displacement size), the Jetta qualified for a record at 209 and backed it up at the above-mentioned 210.16 mph.
“Achieving this speed at Bonneville is a demonstration of the quality, durability, power, and efficiency of the Volkswagen TSI engine series and the stability and aerodynamic efficiency of the all-new 2019 Jetta,” said Hinrich Woebcken, President and CEO, VolkswagenGroup of America. “This record underlines the sporty credentials of our all-new Jetta and also gives a hint at the future of the GLI model, since this car uses a modified version of the GLI’s powerful EA888, 2.0-liter TSI engine.”
This particular Jetta was built by THR Manufacturing, the Ventura, California team that also set up the land speed Beetle GSR (which became the fastest Beetle on earth in 2016). Besides the 0.27 coefficient of drag, THR added high output connecting rods, pistons, valves, camshafts, turbo, and exhaust (though they didn’t change the block or the crank). All of which added up to a more than 600 hp at 8,500 rpm on the dyno.
Initially intended to run at Bonneville Speed Week, earlier in the summer, the team had to settle for Bonneville World of Speed this weekend after the they realized the car wouldn’t be ready to run.
That meant that the record-running Jetta hadn’t moved under its own power until the day before its first record attempt.
Fortunately for the team, conditions were perfect. The salt was hard and dry, making these best condition in a decade, according to Jetta driver, Scott Goetz.
“The conditions are the best they’ve been in a long time. A long time,” said Goetz.
On Friday, September 14, the car ran its first shakedown run, which went perfectly.
With a speed of 208 mph required to qualify for a record (teams are required to set a qualifying run of 0.001 mph faster than the current record, impound their car, and then back the run up the next morning) the Jetta was ready for its first record run, and came up just a little short, hitting 207.651 mph before pulling the shoots. Driver Goetz was not disappointed, though. On the Jetta’s second run, it had nearly set a record and was still pulling when he let off.
Confident of success, the team turned turned around and got ready to run immediately to get one last run in before the end of the day.
The run would prove to be a disappointment, though, as the Jetta’s power cut out seemingly for no reason. The team towed the car back into the pits, ready for a long night of troubleshooting.
Fortunately for them, it turned out the problem was just the race fuel used on the flats. The gas was simply leaving a deposit on the spark plugs, essentially fouling them. With new plugs and some vigilance, it was ready to run again in the morning.
Following 203 mph and a 201 mph runs, Goetz was lined up for a third run of the day, with high hopes of setting a record. With only two cars ahead of him, 35 mph cross winds picked up, ending his hopes for another run.
“A cross wind is no good,” said Goetz. “It can push you off. You get pushed. You look at these tires and the contact patch is not very big.”
With just two days of running left (Sunday and Monday) VW would have to qualify for a record on Sunday in order to be able to defend it on Monday.
Fortunately for everyone involved, everything went smoothly on Sunday and Goetz got the Jetta up to 209 mph, more than qualifying it for a record in its class. On Monday, the team finally set its record. The Jetta ran 210.16 mph.
“It was a terrific experience to drive this car on the salt. The car inspired a lot of confidence at very high speeds,” said Goetz. “I have no doubt that we could go even faster by running some more boost, but we are very happy to have the record, knowing that there is more to come in the car if we need it.”
A version of this story originally appeared on VW Vortex.