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This 911’s 14-Year Journey: Shaving Off 30 Seconds at Willow Springs



Article by Rick Jensen (Turboguy). Video courtesy of Jack Olsen.

If someone told you that their 911’s wing and splitter were made from 80 bucks of beer cooler foam and aluminum roofing, you’d probably say you don’t know Jack, then crack a Walmart joke.

Couple things: one, his down-market downforce pieces cut 1.5 seconds off his Porsche’s Willow Springs lap time—a course he’s been running religiously for over a decade. And two? He actually does know Jack.

Jack Olsen is a Hollywood screenwriter who’s spent 14 years on a unique and deeply personal automotive journey. His goal? Make his Porsche faster at every Willow track day.

As a 10-year old, Olsen already had the bug while racing karts with his brother. Twenty years on, Jack had forgotten that kid stuff even happened—until he picked up this 1972 911 as a weekend car. But the first time he put it on a road course, "I had all of those memories from my childhood wash back over me in that first lap,” Olsen starts. "And I’ve been driving it on the track ever since.”

Willow Springs is his second home, and he’s been praying at the altar of North American road courses since 2000. But credit his dogged determination to an interesting footnote in performance history—a 2006 hot lap by Steve Millen in a GT3 RS. "A professional driver in a 2008 GT3 RS could only get down to a 1:33,” he exclaims.

But instead of turning his inspiration into a huge money pit, Jack has accomplished more with very little. He’s done tremendous amounts of research, and is very budget-conscious when it comes to spending.

This 911 is truly the mighty sum of numerous parts. A stock, 272-horse 993 engine from a ’95 model was installed—moved forward 3.5 cm for better weight distribution. And the body panels were replaced with fiberglass pieces for weight savings.

But there are, in Jack’s words, "A large number of small, incremental improvements.” Fuchs wheel centers were welded to 11- and 9.5-inch Corvette barrels so he could have both more traction and more street/race tire longevity. And before a newer set of ’86 Turbo brakes were swapped in, Jack got a crazy 11 years from his last set of rotors! And the 911 wears a one-off suspension with completely different geometry and mounting locations compared to the factory car. All in all, this car is as much of a purpose-built Porsche as you can find—but it’s still driven to and from the track!

When Olsen started this journey, his 911 posted a 1:56 time. And after 14 years of a tenth here and a thousandth there, he’s sliced a full half-minute off his time—to a 1:27.

We won’t spoil the ending, which is as great as this one-of-a-kind project. And who knows, maybe in another 14 years, Jack will be posting 1:20 laps!




What is your favorite all-time track record: which track, which car? Tell us in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rick Jensen (Turboguy)

Rick's a Turbo Buick and EFI GM nut who was born in Nebraska, then reborn on the mean streets of Queens, NYC. Spent high school and college wrenching and racing before moving to NYC and spending 13 years as the editor-in-chief, editor, and writer for some of America's best automotive magazines, websites, and ad agencies. Favorite moments include running low 10s in my Turbo Buick, Exposing GM's weak-assed early CTS-V drivetrains, road racing Corvettes and Camaros, and doing high-boost launches to make my kid laugh.
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