New documentary film retells story of broken-down Volkswagen van

A Volkswagen van on a cross-country jaunt in 2007 broke down in Oklahoma City. The story of the multistate journey is told in a new documentary film, “Circle The Wagen.”
by Robert Medley Modified: July 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 29, 2013

A multistate road trip in a vintage Volkswagen van stalled temporarily in Oklahoma City six years ago; now that stop is recorded in a documentary about the journey.

Two adventurous men were traveling Route 66 in March 2007 when the 1972 Volkswagen Transporter van broke down on N May Avenue.

Charlie Pecoraro, 32, of Burbank, Calif., and Dave Torstenson, 32, of Los Angeles, needed help to continue their cross-country trip, which was being documented by a video crew traveling with them.

Help came from a local Volkswagen mechanic and enthusiast. A broken fuel pump was not too much for Greg Triebel, 37, to overcome. Triebel made the repair, and the men were on their way with their air-cooled engine.

Triebel said he already knew about the cross-country trip — through an online network of Volkswagen enthusiasts — when he drove by the broken-down van that day. He saw the van and said to himself, “That has to be it!”

Triebel fixed the fuel pump by converting it to an electric system.

Triebel was a student at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2007. He since has moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he teaches science. He owns a 1966 Volkswagen Westphalia so he was familiar with the 1972 Transporter.

‘Circle The Wagen'

The journey has been made into a documentary film called “Circle The Wagen,” which premiered June 9 at the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience.

A number of showings are planned in the Los Angeles area, filmmaker Ryan Green said.

Green, 32, of Los Angeles, the film's director, said the documentary appeals not only to Volkswagen lovers across the country. The heart of the film is about people helping people.

“Oklahoma City was the most eventful location for our trip in 2007,” Green said.

Torstenson found the van on the Internet and bought it from the owner in Des Moines, Iowa. He nicknamed it “The Croc,” inspired by Elton John's song “Crocodile Rock.”

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