HORICON - It's not a stretch of the imagination to say that motor oil runs through Carl Fausett's veins.
He began racing stock cars at the age of 15 and hasn't stopped reaching for automotive goals since. His most recent achievement is breaking the world land speed record for a Porsche 928 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in September.
"I've enjoyed challenging myself," Fausett said. "I find the build to be fascinating, technically challenging. I love the engineering; I love the problem solving."
Fausett's Porsche, run under 928 Motorsports based in Horicon, reached a speed of 216 mph on the salt flats. He worked with a crew of three men, Myles Lowery of Horicon, Steve Neitzel of Horicon and Dan Respalje of Markesan.
While Fausett and his team were competing at Pike's Peak International Hill Climb, a mountain race in Colorado in 2009, he was already working on the design of the engine for a flat-land race.
"To me, Bonneville represented another opportunity to get to see one of these great American racing legacies while I still can," Fausett said.
Many suggest that the salt flats are in their final decade due to overuse in many venues.
"The salt is diminishing in the salt flats and we may be looking at the end of an era there," Fausett said.
So the team at 928 Motorsports began re-designing the car from an uphill racer to a land speed breaker. The car was taken from 650 horsepower to 950 horsepower. The engine block machining was done by Warren Automotive in Beaver Dam. All of the wheel flares and hood seams were removed and the car was made as smooth as possible. And unlike most racecars, the Porsche was made heavier.
"Weight is a penalty in all forms of racing except Bonneville," Fausett said.
To make the car more aerodynamic they put panels underneath, and to make it heavier they melted down lead from Gene's Tires in Beaver Dam to add ballast.
"I welded chambers into those pans and filled them with lead," Fausett said. The build was quite different. Aerodynamics is such a peculiar beast, especially at these speeds."
The team set out to break two records, one, a marquee record for a Porsche 928 which was 206 mph and the other a blown gas modified record set at 231 mph. Blown gas modified class is for any modified car that runs only gas.
Teams running on gas were required to empty their tanks and fill them with gas provided by an onsite tanker. The gas cap would then be sealed and initialed by racing officials.
Fausett's Porsche wasn't able to reach the 231 record. Fausett had 5 miles in which to break the speed records.
"I wanted it, and I had the motor for it," he said. "You don't want to bring a knife to a gunfight, so I didn't want to bring 900 horse to Bonneville because then I would tie."
Unfortunately, racing on salt is a battle when it comes to traction.
"We didn't have that traction. Salt is a peculiar thing to race on."
Fausett was given advice by seasoned Bonneville drivers of how to drive at high speeds on salt.
"The old timers will come up to you and they'll tell you ‘Oh, you're from Wisconsin? This is like driving 200 mph in two inches of snow,'" he said.
Fausett is thrilled with breaking the marquee record and looks at it as an opportunity to expand his business which manufactures parts for the Porsche 928
"It was wonderful," he said. "We were able to call the trip a success. From the market standpoint this was very valuable for our company. We can say we have the world's fastest Porsche 928."
In November, Fausett will take his Porsche to a wind tunnel in North Carolina to do some testing. He hopes that with good results he can return next year to the Bonneville Salt Flats to break the blown gas modified record of 231 mph.
"We're going to see if we can get the down force we need on the rear tires so we can go back to Bonneville with a better chance of success."