The VW Golf GTI TCR and Andretti: Off to the Races

Jarett Andretti shares why the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR track car is the perfect fit for his next racing adventure.

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.’”

Once racing teams purchase a Golf GTI TCR, they can make their own modifications — and do so more easily than other race car series. “TCR is an optimal series to get started with. You can easily make changes to the car and feel them instantaneously,” says Andretti. “The cool thing about the TCR class is that you can race them in any TCR race worldwide,” he says — which means the winner must rely on what Andretti calls “the heart and lifeblood of racing” — skill.

In his career, Andretti has raced in a variety of series and styles, including sprint cars that race around a dirt track. But he’s excited to enter this new-to-him field — and to do it in the Golf GTI TCR. He’s getting to know the Golf GTI TCR, from the front wheel drive to the hand brake to the turbo engine. “This might sound surprising, but it’s really comfortable,” says Andretti. “And when the turbo kicks in, you can definitely feel the take-off.”

The Race to Spread Awareness About Cancer Prevention 

Jarett’s father, John Andretti, never missed his son’s races until a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. It diverted the elder Andretti’s energy toward treatment and a new passion: raising awareness about regular colonoscopy screenings, which can help with early detection and thus improved recovery odds. “My dad had a lot of racetrack wives tell him that their husbands wouldn’t go to the doctor until they heard about his diagnosis,” says Andretti. After chemotherapy, the elder Andretti’s current scans are clear, but his determination to spread the word about early detection remains. “You never know how many people you’ve saved by doing this,” says Jarett.