Second Bill

Also from Issue 199

  • Driven: Cayenne S Hybrid
  • Driven: Boxster Spyder
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  • Preserved 1957 356
  • Rescusitated 1971 911T
  • History: 1971 Daytona 24
  • GT3 Cup wins Thunderhill 25
  • The evolution of Porsche lighting.
  • Richard Attwood: The quiet Le Mans winner
  • Tech: Smoke, oil filter, airbag light, IMS
  • U.S. military officer drives the Nürburgring
  • Disappearing Porsche toolkits
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Photo by A.J. Miller
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BILL’S NEW CAR TURNED OUT TO BE 350TH in a required production run of 400 cars to qualify the 934 to race in the Group 4 category. Within a year, he’d come to understand ownership made him something of a junior partner in Porsche’s experiment of putting turbocharging in the hands of the public: Pfaff called to say Porsche wanted to exchange cylinder heads at no charge, after just 20,000 miles, to examine the effects of a turbo running on unleaded gasoline. Bill gladly accepted.

The “junior partnership” became more demanding post-warranty. The turbo­charger needed to be replaced after only 25,000 miles. As time went on, turbos got better, lasting 35,000 to 40,000 miles. As for the boosted engines, Bill discovered as the years went on that rebuilds were necessary at 75,000 to 100,000 miles.

Yet not for a moment did he regret his purchase. The pleasure kept building. Sons Brian and Craig, 8 and 9 respectively when the car joined the family, grew up riding with dad to watch races at Elkhart Lake, Mont-Tremblant, and Watkins Glen.

That first summer, returning elated from Quebec, where Gilles Villeneuve had beaten Formula One world champion James Hunt in a Formula Atlan­tic race (and George Follmer edged Al Holbert in 934s in the Trans-Am event), the highway along the St. Lawrence appeared before him clear and perfect for a high-speed run.

“So I’m driving along at 125 and I decide to take it up to 150, which it did easily,” says Bill with a sparkle in his eyes. “I said to the boys, ‘Okay you guys, don’t let me ever see you do this except in a Por­sche Tur­bo.’ I’ve been quoted in print on this story before, but the qualification ‘except in a Porsche Turbo’ got left out and it’s crucial.”

A Porsche Club of America driving school at Watkins Glen with 907-racer Steve Cohen instructing took Bill to new levels in relishing his 930. Track days at Mosport further developed his involvement. Sponsoring a 934 in the SCCA Trans-Am racing series, however, was a step he could scarcely believe himself.

“Al Holbert was my great hero,” Bill says of the American road-racing legend who later headed Porsche’s foray into Indy racing. “I couldn’t believe it when Ludwig Heim­rath, a Canadian, beat him at Mosport in the Trans-Am race in August of 1976. The next year I went to Ludwig’s shop and asked him if my sons and I could help out in the pits. Mid-season, I asked him, ‘How much would it cost to get my company’s name on your car?’ And that’s how for $2,000 I became a Trans-Am team’s sponsor. That’s all it cost in 1977.”

Bill started his carpet-cleaning company in 1970, and his 911T was central to the business. He set out soliciting business with his steam-cleaning equipment packed into the 911’s passenger seat and rear luggage cavity. “I thought the high-tech image of the Porsche gave me credibility,” he says with a chuckle. “At the time, steam cleaning was heresy.” Now Deep Steam Cleaning was on the fen­ders of the 934 that Heimrath drove to the Trans-Am championship, defeating Peter Gregg (albeit after a prolonged legal dispute with the SCCA and international racing authorities).

How to make his 930 a little more like Ludwig’s 934? At the time, few modifications were available, so Bill turned to vintage racing for his fun. For a decade, he and son Brian alternated behind the wheel of a gorgeous, polished-aluminum Lotus 11, competing across North America, including at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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