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1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

Jeremy Freedman Makes History At 208mph In His Mk3 VW GTI.

Jun 17, 2010

Pulling up to a field of 200 cars at last year's Texas Mile, hundreds of people laughed and shook their heads at Jeremy Freedman and his '97 VW GTI. Also in the queue were a Ford GT, Porsche 911, Toyota Supra and Lamborghini Gallardo.

Eurp_1006_01_o+1997_vw_gti+side_view Photo 2/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

To most spectators, all they saw was a shitty VW with black wheels; it didn't even have aerodynamics back then. But once it left the starting line and rushed into the distance, the skeptics fell silent. Then the crowd erupted into applause as they witnessed Jeremy in his beat-up GTI becoming the world's fastest GTI, setting a top speed of 208mph.

Dedicated To Dad Competitive by nature, Jeremy has been an avid racer and fanatical golfer since he was a boy. The 30 year-old owns a golf accessory store in Dallas and is training to become a professional golfer. "I've been an athlete all my life, and my mom grew up drag racing," he started.

With cars in his blood, Jeremy received the keys to his first Dub when he got his brother's '92 GTI handed down. He fell in love with the hot hatch, regularly stomping on Mustangs at local street races. "I got hooked trying to go fast. I wanted to be the fastest guy out there," he told us.

Eurp_1006_02_o+1997_vw_gti+race_track Photo 3/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

After dabbling with the Mk2, he picked up a '97 GTI VR6 after his father passed away. "Our family doesn't come from money. So before my dad died, he wanted my brother, sister and I to each have our own car because my family shared one car for a long time when the economy was bad," he reminisced.

Jeremy's father left him with a small sum to buy a vehicle. So in '99, he found the perfect GTI and flew out to New Mexico to drive it home to Texas, loving every minute and grateful for his father's gift.

Speed Addict Jeremy became a regular visitor to the drag strip. He'd push his GTI to the limit every weekend, shaving tenths with upgrades like cams, intake, chip and exhaust. As a speed addict, his hunger for more power was insatiable. He planned to install a supercharger but had a change of heart after understanding the potential of boost. So he traded his blower for a turbo kit. The components weren't made for each other, so he enlisted the help of good friend Philip Wight at Dubsquared.

Philip specialized in VW/Audi service and repair, but performance was in his DNA. Through the years, Philip helped Jeremy prepare the GTI for every drag and standing-mile race.

Ten years ago they built a 3.0 VR6 with forged pistons, rods and crank, which has served the Mk3 well. Dubsquared machined 288° cams and since then they've played with different turbochargers. Mounted on a Kinetic manifold, the VR6 initially had a Turbonetics 60-1 turbo, followed by a Borg Warner S366 before the current billet Precision 6768.

Developed in tandem was a Dubsquared fabricated 4'' downpipe that sits flush to the belly pan. T1 Race Development also designed a custom front-mount intercooler. To fuel the thirsty 3.0, 1000cc injectors were fitted plus dual fuel pumps. An M&W ignition system then ensured power was delivered throughout the rev range.

Not only does it have a ten year-old motor, but the GTI also retained its a five-speed manual transmission. "It's bone stock except for a Peloquin limited-slip diff and Clutch Masters disc," Jeremy told us.

This caught us off guard, since we imagined you'd need longer gears to exceed 200mph. "It's all in the tires and RPM. The stock rev limiter goes to 6800rpm, but I can take it to 8500rpm with my motor setup. And I increased the gear ratio with taller tires."

The tires were 215/60 Hoosier R6 slicks on 15'' Drag wheels. We're told that every 0.5'' in tire height should gain 8-10mph, according to the owner.

With the hardware fitted, Tony Palo at T1 added Motec M800 engine management. "The Motec is the shit!" Jeremy exclaimed. "My car used to be likean Atari, but now it's a Sony PS3 - Motec is the best at what it does."

The management controlled every element from boost to launch, traction and more. It helped the car drive more consistently and smoother. It can even react to different conditions; for example, shutting the motor down if it detects a problem. "It keeps the engine together and is one of the reasons I've had the same motor so long," Jeremy noted.

Eurp_1006_06_o+1997_vw_gti+driver Photo 7/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

Another benefit was datalogging. Before, if something went wrong, it would take hours or days to diagnose the problem. But with the Motec's real-time datalogging, you can pinpoint the cause.

The GTI was never pushed hard on the dyno, but Jeremy estimated more than 800whp since his previous turbo setup made 740whp.

10sec & 200+Mph Club
While Jeremy's standing-mile record has gained huge attention, the car's still essentially a drag racer. "I used to load my slicks, air compressor and tools in the trunk and drive to a drag race," he explained. "I'd run all day and drive home."

Last December, Jeremy achieved his best time of 10.55sec at 145mph on the strip. "But doing the Texas Mile is ten-fold better than drag racing. The rush is so much bigger," he explained. Before this year, Jeremy has competed in three Texas Mile events and improved on his speed each time. His first outing saw it hit 176mph, while his second event achieved 193.4mph.

Eurp_1006_07_o+1997_vw_gti+interior_setup Photo 8/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

After almost reaching the 200+mph club, he was more determined for the third event in October. He made six passes and finally broke the 200mph mark on his fourth run, hitting 204.8mph. This was followed up by runs at 205.8mph and finally 208.1mph. "And I did it with no aerodynamics!" he confessed. "It was just raw horsepower and the power-to-weight ratio that got me through it. After 150mph it wasn't safe. The car was all over the road and I was fighting to keep it straight."

March Madness Before returning to the Mile, Dubsquared addressed the GTI's aerodynamics. Unlike a low-profile sports car such as the Corvette or Viper, the GTI was essentially a box designed to haul people and cargo. So Philip and Jeremy went to the drawing board. "We searched the web and found a photo of my car at the end of the mile last year," Jeremy revealed. "You could see the car was almost off the ground!"

To increase downforce, Dubsquared fabricated a front splitter and Smith Racecraft designed a rear wing. A complete undertray was also installed to eliminate air pockets and reduce lift. For added safety, a ten-point rollcage was welded in. Fitted with taller tires, the GTI was destined for 220+mph, according to the team's mathematics. So we traveled to Goliad Airport, Texas to witness Jeremy's latest adventure.

The GTI made numerous passes but experienced different problems each time, from the map sensor malfunctioning to a shifter problem. After making a 197mph pass, the team realized they had the wrong transmission in the car, with his drag racing fifth gear and final drive.

Eurp_1006_08_o+1997_vw_gti+6768_turbo Photo 9/15   |   Precision 6768 turbo is rated to 900+hp and is usually spotted on Supras

On the last day of the event, with the correct tranny installed, Jeremy made three more passes. His best run matched the previous record of 208.1mph. "That's racing," explained Philip from Dubsqured. "Last year we went out and it was unsafe to drive. Now it's safer at high speed but the downforce has created more drag, so we need to make more power. We'll have to do a couple more things for next time..."

Although Jeremy didn't manage to break his old record this time, he's proud of what he's achieved. "This is probably the greatest accomplishment of my entire life," he said. "No other GTI has done what I've done in the standing-mile. There's no easy way to describe going 200mph - I'm literally hanging onto the steering wheel for my f'ing life! But at the same time, I'm living my dream and reaching my expectations."

1997 VW GTI
Owner: Jeremy Freedman
Location: Dallas, TX
Occupation: golfer

Eurp_1006_09_o+1997_vw_gti+interior Photo 10/15   |   The interior is mostly intact, with power windows and sunroof but minus the other three seats

Engine: 3.0-liter VR6 12v with forged pistons, rods and crank, billet Precision 6768 turbo, Kinetic Motorsport manifold, Tial 44mm wastegate and 50mm blow-off valve, T1 Race Development front-mount intercooler, plumbing and catch can, Injector Dynamics 1000cc injectors, dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Dubsquared 4'' stainless downpipe, aluminum exhaust and 288° camshafts, Schimmel Performance intake manifold, MoTeC M800 engine management, M&W Pro 16-D CDI ignition system, Prologger wideband system, electric fans

Drivetrain: five-speed manual transmission with Peloquin limited-slip differential, Clutch Masters FX700 twin-disc clutch

Brakes: 11'' RPI Equipped rotors with Wilwood Billet Dynalite II four-piston calipers

Eurp_1006_10_o+1997_vw_gti+gauges Photo 11/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

Suspension: H&R coilovers, Driveshaft Shop stage 3 axles

Wheels & Tires: 15x7'' Drag DR-17 wheels with 215/60 R16 Hoosier R6 tires

Exterior: Dubsquared alumilite front splitter, flat-bottom undertray, Smith Racecraft rear wing and parachute mount, modified OE front bumper, badgeless grille

Interior: Sparco Milano seat with G-Force camlock harness, Momo Champion steering wheel, Auto Meter RPM, water temp and oil pressure gauges in instrument cluster, 15-gallon fuel cell, Smith Racecraft ten-point rollcage, deleted rear and passenger seats

Eurp_1006_11_o+1997_vw_gti+custom_seats Photo 12/15   |   1997 Volkswagen GTI - World's Fastest GTI

Thanks: Philip Wight and Dale Gordon at Dubsquared (dubsquared.net), Tony Palo, Mike and Nelly at T1 Race Development (t1racedevelopment.com), Bruce Foss at Hoosier Tire (hoosiertire.com), Kim Smith at Smith Racecraft (smithracecraft.com), Frank at The Driveshaft Shop (driveshaftshop.com), Chef Pat

Texas Mile
Just three hours from Houston, the Texas Mile began in 10/03 and has gained momentum ever since. Cars and motorcycles from across North America flock to the bi-annual event that takes place spring and fall.

The format of the event is simple. You start at the beginning of an airstrip and have one mile to reach your highest MPH. Speed is calculated by timing lights and lasers located on the last 132ft of the runway. Unlike Bonneville, where you have nearly seven miles to achieve top speed, this race is a standing mile, which makes it more interesting to watch.

Drivers can take an unlimited number of runs over a three-day weekend, time permitting. But after attending the event, it's best to show up on the Friday, since you can find yourself queuing for more than an hour to run on Saturday and Sunday.

Costing between $200-300, only 200 spots are available for each event and they fill up fast, so register early. www.texasmile.net

Sam Du
By
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