Second Bill

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  • The evolution of Porsche lighting.
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  • U.S. military officer drives the Nürburgring
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Photo by A.J. Miller
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When did the 930 become his forever car? Somewhere between the thrill of being first on the block with a Turbo and realizing he’d not swap for a new Porsche, he’s unsure exactly when: “I learned from vintage racing that old race cars never stop racing, they’re just rebuilt and raced some more. Same with the 930; I came to think that if anything went wrong I could have it fixed. And here I am, still fixing.”

Still fixing? The fanbelt pulley cracking in rural Oregon, he’s not about to forget that one. The fuse box fire. The crack in the chassis ahead of the engine that developed after installing coil-over springs without the necessary bracing in 2003. A crunched rear quarter panel thanks to the little old guy in the SUV in Iron Wood, Michigan as he was beginning another trek to Mon­terey, California in 2009. All fixable.

The plan was to reach 621,371 miles — 1,000,000 kilometers — at the 2010 Texas Mile. But Bill endured a summer on the sidelines as slow reassembly after the car’s second paint job kept it garage-bound with 597,583 miles on the odometer.

BILL CAME PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO MISSING THE TEXAS MILE ALTOGETHER. Coming upon a hidden intersection of country roads near Watkins Glen six weeks prior to the Lonestar State’s showdown, the 930 bottomed out with such force that the shock absorbers slammed through their towers and the exhaust system was flattened.

Departure for Goliad, Texas via Atlanta — where he was hooking up with son Brian — was delayed by extensive underbody repairs and complicated by a last-day wheel alignment at a shop that refused to consider Jerry Woods’ settings, or, for that matter, Porsche’s, instead coming up with something approximating a grocery cart with a sticking front wheel.

Bill says it was all he could do to keep the car on the road as he drove south, but after finding his way to Renn­gruppe Motor­sports at Lexington, North Carolina, the 930 smoothed out with the proper settings. The dancey-pranceyness at the Texas Mile was another matter. You’ll remember his resolution to add three pounds of air pressure to the front tires. He did indeed.

“On the way from the hotel to the track on Saturday morning, I said, ‘Hey, this is working,’” he recalls. “And at the track, it was straight as a die the whole run.” He hit 175.6 mph at age 73, with 601,249 miles showing on his 34-year-old 930’s odometer.

Pushing Bill for dramatic recollection is unproductive. He’s not that kind. “The thing is, you have no idea how fast you’re going,” he says. “But it certainly felt good, having never been at 175 before.” What about the bumps, Bill? “It looks bumpy when you watch the video, but it isn’t when you’re driving. You don’t feel it.”

The wipers, mirrors, and antenna were removed for son Brian’s turn at the wheel, as in the days when they alternated in the vintage racing Lotus 11. “I said, just hold the throttle at 3300 rpm, let the clutch out, and put your foot to the floor,” recalls Bill. “He said he never in his life got such a shove in the back. He said he barely had time to shift; he was in fourth by the quarter mile.” Brian’s speed: 176.5 mph.

Bill thinks of 185 mph as a reasonable goal next time. For now, he appears content to sit back and reflect. “If you were a member of the racing fraternity back in 1975, like Ludwig Heimrath was and I wasn’t,” he muses, “you could have ordered a 934 for only $10,000 more than I paid for the 930. The other day I saw a 934 on eBay, Buy It Now, $455,000.”

After one of Bill’s runs in the Texas Mile, Brian said it sounded like a 935 on the front straight at Mosport, back in the day. The senior MacEachern smiles as he tells that story. “At some point, my goal became making the 930 into a 934,” he says. “And I feel now that I’ve finally got there.”

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