Ray Williams – NZ Land Speed Record – 16th March 1996
Ray Williams of Auckland, New Zealand, has raced Porsche cars since 1988. Three days after he purchased a 1983 Porsche 930 Turbo in September 1988, he raced and won with the car in a Bridgestone-Porsche Club NZ Championship race. Already with plenty of race experience under his belt, he quickly took to the Porsche 930 Turbo – a car he still affectionately calls the ‘Ivory Beast’.
In 1995 Ray made his first attempt at raising the NZ Land Speed Record (LSR) set at 313.25km/h in February 1993 by his good friend, the late Dr Rodger Freeth, in a Lola Ford Indy car. When referring to his own attempt at the LSR, Ray said “I hotted up my old Porsche 930 Turbo road car by fitting a larger turbo and intercooler, a better Motec engine management system and a taller top gear”. All of this “hotting-up” resulted in an increase in the ‘Ivory Beast’s’ Turbo power from 300hp to nearly 600hp, and an increase in top speed from 260km/h to some 320mh/h.
As Dr Rodger Freeth had done, Ray tried West Canal Road at Waitakaruru (on Highway 25 below the Firth of Thames) for his first LSR attempt on 31st October 1995, but there was a big bump in the road after newly completed road resealing. Ray then tried East Canal Road but that was worse, and dangerously so. Although he managed eight runs on a “cold, blustery, wet and windy day” Ray set a new record for the fastest ‘road registered car’ in New Zealand. But, the outright NZ LSR on those very bumpy roads at Waitakaruru eluded him.
Ray looked elsewhere in both the North and South Islands for a better location for his next LSR attempt. He finally settled on Goudie Road, which is behind Broadlands housing estate and running alongside Kaingaroa Forest between Rotorua and Taupo. Having fulfilled the FIA and Motorsport NZ requirements for “endless paperwork”, and having booked the Goudie Road site the required 6 weeks in advance, Ray was very disappointed to wake up on the morning of 16th March 1996, the scheduled day for his LSR attempt, to strong winds and steady rain. After his first run at Goudie Road when recording around 280km/h he was further disappointed to find out that his engine tuning team had “turned things the wrong way and leaned out the engine – with consequential damage to the engine”. Undaunted, he said he “wound the boost in the engine up as high as it would go having decided to keep trying for the record until either the engine expired, or exploded”!
In total on 16th March, Ray made 12 runs on Goudie Road – 6 each way. The LSR regulations said the average of any two subsequent runs that were made within 1 hour of each other could be used to set a record. However, with the wind speed increasing and with more and more heavy squalls of rain that in turn caused excessive wheel spin, the Porsche laboured and laboured until the engine finally expired. In extremely adverse weather and with a very ‘sick’ engine in the car, Ray was very disappointed to miss his goal of setting the World Record for a road car at 348kmh. However, Ray did set the outright NZ LSR at 316.92 km/h (196.72 mph) for the Flying One Kilometre and the Flying One Mile, as well as a number of other records – 10 in total. According to Motorsport NZ website, Ray set the following records:-
Flying One Kilometre Sprint
- Unlimited cc rating – 316.92 km/h
- Unlimited cc rating (Road Registered) – 11.359 secs (316.929 km/h)
- FIA Class cc rating – B 5000-8000cc – 11.359 secs (316.929 km/h)
Standing One Kilometre Sprint
- Unlimited cc rating – 20.688 secs, 174.013km/h
- FIA Class cc rating – B 5,000-8,000cc – 20.688 secs (174.013km/h
Flying One Mile Sprint
- Unlimited cc rating – 18.300 secs, 196.721mph
- Unlimited cc rating (Road Registered) – 18.300 secs, 196.721mph
- FIA Class cc rating – B 5000-8000cc – 18.300 secs, 196.721mph
Standing Start One Mile Sprint
- Unlimited cc rating – 28.484 secs, 126.386 mph
- FIA Class cc rating – B 5000-8000cc – 28.484 secs, 126.386 mph
In 1996 Ray was awarded The Castrol Trophy for setting the NZ Land Speed Record over the measured mile. The trophy is a one-third replica of the Sir Charles Wakefield Trophy that was presented in the 1930s by Castrol’s founding Chairman for the World Land Speed Record.
The NZ LSR set by Ray at 196.721mph (316.92kmh) had previously been set on 23rd March 1991 by Kieran Wills in his ‘Aztec’ Mazda V8 Trans-Am at 185.95mph (299.258km/h). It was subsequently set by Dr Roger Freeth on West Canal Road, Waitakaruru (on Highway 25 below the Firth of Thames) in a Lola Ford Indy car at 194.645mph (313.25 km/h). After Ray set the outright NZ LSR at 196.721mph for the Flying Mile, it was broken by Owen Evans at Goudie Road in his Porsche 911 GT Le Mans on 2nd June 1996. Owen set a Flying One Mile time of 216.385 mph. On the same day, Owen also set the Flying Kilometre Sprint time at 348.061km/h – and this in turn was raised to 355.485km/h by Eddie Freeman in his Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera on 26th October 2012 on the runway at RNZAF Base Ohakea.
After setting the NZ LSR in 1996, Ray carried on racing and winning in a variety of Porsche cars.
Ray has raced Porsches in the Bridgestone-Porsche Club Championship series, Endurance races, Super GT races, and in the NZ Targa. Ray is a real stalwart and a great character; with many, many years of experience as a Senior Instructor he has taught countless others to drive their own performance cars safely and competently on both road and track. And just to finish this story with a little variety – in the ‘Ivory Beast’, Ray won the “Last Race in the World of the 20th Century” (held at Pukekohe just before midnight on 31st December 1999) and the ‘First Race in the World for the New Millennium” held just after midnight on 1st January 2000.
The ‘Ivory Beast’ is still used today by Ray as a road car as well as for occasional appearances on the track as a ‘Course Car’ – this car has achieved 155 race wins, which is acknowledged by the Porsche factory in Germany as a World Record for any Porsche car.
The Porsche Festival 2016 salutes Ray Williams for his courageous LSR attempt and for his longstanding and highly successful commitment to racing the Porsche marque.