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MADMAX ‘Sand Racer’ Porsche 911 Turbo S

Zef Eisenberg Madmax Porsche 911 Turbo S 4.1L, Landspeed record attempt at Pendine Sands on 18 May 2019

The 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S waits on the beach to be driven by Zef Eisenberg
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: The 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S waits on the beach to be driven by Zef Eisenberg

Few people outside of the UK would have noticed that last year, a new land speed record was set on the famous Pendine Sands beach. Pendine Sands is a flat seven-mile stretch of beach on the shores of Carmarthen Bay on the south coast of Wales. It stretches west to east from Gilman Point to Laugharne Sands, the village of Laugharne being the home of the famous Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas, so the whole area is steeped in history. The village of Pendine is a laid back, unassuming looking coastal village, except when life is interrupted by the Ministry of Defence who also use this stretch of coast as a firing range, which stretches out to sea.

Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, powers the 1925 Blue Bird at Pendine Sands, 21 July 2015
Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, powers the 1925 Blue Bird (owned by the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu) at Pendine Sands, 21 July 2015, commemorating the 90th anniversary of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world land speed record, where he achieved 150 mph in his 350 hp Sunbeam Blue Bird

On 25 September 1924, Malcolm Campbell set a land speed record of 146.16 mph in his 350 bhp Sunbeam car, Bluebird at Pendine, and in 1927, he set a new record of 174.8 mph in his Napier-Campbell Blue Bird. This record of stood for nearly 90 years.

Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, powers the 1925 Blue Bird at Pendine Sands, 21 July 2015
Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, powers the 1925 Blue Bird (owned by the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu) at Pendine Sands, 21 July 2015, commemorating the 90th anniversary of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world land speed record, where he achieved 150 mph in his 350 hp Sunbeam Blue Bird

They say that the quest for speed is something that is in your blood, and for multiple speed record holder Zef Eisenberg, the temptation to have a shot at the record set by Idris Elba at Pendine, was just too tantalising. Elba’s ‘flying mile’ speed record of 180.361 mph was set in a twin-turbo W-12, 6-litre Bentley Continental GT Speed at Pendine in 2015.

The 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S waits on the beach to be driven by Zef Eisenberg
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: The 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S waits on the beach to be driven by Zef Eisenberg

Building the car

For the attempt, Eisenberg purchased a 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S for the record attempt. In standard trim, the Turbo S is powered by a 3.8-liter, twin-turbo, 6-cylinder horizontally opposed engine with VTG (Variable Turbine Geometry) producing 640 hp and 516 lb-ft. of torque. The standard Turbo S can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds using Launch Control and has a top speed on tarmac of 205 mph. That is for the standard car, impressive by any means!

Huddled last minute discussions precede Zef Eisenberg’s record run in the 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: Huddled last minute discussions precede Zef Eisenberg’s record run in the 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Eisenberg’s team, together with ES Motorsports, spent a year modifying the Turbo S to be fit to run on sand, an altogether different surface in so many ways. The engine was bored out from 3.8-litres to 4.1-litres, and it now develops 1200 hp at the rear wheels, that is over 1400 hp at the engine! It has got bigger Garrett turbos with bigger intercoolers, and a water methanol spray system was installed to keep the charge temperatures down to stop it overheating and detonating. “We are running a full Syvecs 6 ECU which allows us to go into limp mode if it starts to go lean or rich, which could risk detonation,” Eisenberg elaborated.

Zef Eisenberg in contemplative mood ahead of his record run in the 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: Zef Eisenberg in contemplative mood ahead of his record run in the 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S

The gearbox was upgraded and a Dodson clutch was fitted, allowing 1000 lbs. of torque to be put through the PDK gearbox. The driveshafts were also upgraded and the car was fitted with BBS Superlight wheels to reduce unsprung mass. The tyre selection was an interesting one, as Zef explained, “The tyres that we have used on the beach are actually normal road Pirelli Zeros, the new ones, because they have got very good water channels and they disperse water quite well. The problem with 20-inch wheels is that there are a limited number of tyres available that are designed specifically for this kind of surface.”

Final preparations are made to the Porsche 911 Turbo S ahead of Zef Eisenberg’s record run on the beach
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: Final preparations are made to the Porsche 911 Turbo S ahead of Zef Eisenberg’s record run on the beach where 90 years earlier, the legendary Sir Malcolm Campbell set a world land speed record

An FIA full roll cage was fitted, racing seats were installed and a 6-point harness fitted with a safety net on the driver’s door. The interior of the car, which was crammed with digital measuring equipment, video gear, cables and other paraphernalia, looked more like a cockpit of an Airbus A380, than a roadgoing Porsche 911. “We kept all the interior trim, because on sand weight is your friend. It is road legal you know, it still has the cup holders, it has still got the air conditioning and the heater, everything is still on it because you want the weight,” Eisenberg pointed out.

The interior set up of the Porsche 911 Turbo S is almost completely standard
Pendine Sands, Wales, 18 May 2019: The interior set up of the Porsche 911 Turbo S is almost completely standard, apart from the plethora of electronic monitoring and recording equipment

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