When Jarett Andretti was in high school, his dad, former pro racer John Andretti, bought a go-kart. Jarett decided to give it a spin, and he hasn’t stopped racing since. This year, the sprint car champ is getting behind the wheel of the VW entry into the Touring Class Racing series: the Golf GTI TCR. “I’m really looking forward to it,” says Andretti, who made his debut at the Pirelli World Challenge in Austin, Texas, in March. “It’ll be totally different than anything I’ve ever done.”
Many people are familiar with one or two types of car racing — the Formula series, for example. Touring Class Racing is a lesser-known but no-less-exciting category: It puts drivers behind the wheels of street cars with suspension, body, engine, and other modifications that have made them race-track competitive. There’s a key attraction to the TCR models, too: Because they are built off existing street car models — in this case the VW MQB platform of the Golf GTI — they tend to be a more affordable car for driving teams.
The Golf GTI TCR does resemble a Golf GTI that you might see at your VW dealership. In fact, it uses about 65 percent of the same parts as a standard production-model Golf GTI — but it also differs in key ways. For starters, the Golf GTI TCR meets that racing-class standards (known as homologation). Those regulations include everything from doors (4 or 5) to minimum weight (1250 kg), maximum horsepower (350), and wheels (maximum of 10″x18″). “I noticed right away that this looks like it does on the street,” says Andretti. “When fans see this thing perform, they’ll think, ‘That’s the car I want.’”