Last year, SSC announced that its hypercar, the Tuatara, managed to set a new record for the world’s fastest production car. However, the company faced plenty of controversy after proudly making the declaration, with many claiming that the video evidence didn’t back up the data of the attempt.
This resulted in company CEO Jerod Shelby having to admit that the evidence was a little shaky, and that SSC would not submit the data to Guinness World Records. In a personal statement posted on YouTube, he vowed to re-run the attempt to make sure it is done “in a way that’s undeniable and irrefutable.”
A second attempt was conducted in December that same year at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds located in Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (LLF), Kennedy Space Centre, but engine issues resulted in the company having to abandon that attempt.
Since then, the company has conducted a third attempt on January 17 this year, and has now claimed (once again) that the Tuatara is the world’s fastest production car. The hypercar managed to hit a two-way average top speed of 455.3 km/h (282.9 mph). While not as fast as the first attempt made in October last year, it’s enough to beat the previous record holder, the Koenigsegg Agera RS, which achieved 446.97 km/h (277.87 mph) back in 2017.
As per Guinness World Records rules, all cars vying for the record must perform two runs in opposite directions, with the average of both taken into account. Unlike its first attempt on State Route 160 outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, SSC decided to head back to the Kennedy Space Centre for its third try.
On its first northbound run, the Tuatara topped out at 450.1 km/h (279.7 mph), while the southbound run saw the car hit 460.4 km/h (286.1 mph). The latter beats the Agera RS’ Vmax speed of 457.94 km/h (284.55 mph), but is less than the Bugatti Chiron’s 490.484 km/h (304.773 mph). However, Bugatti’s attempt was only done in one direction, so by technicality, it doesn’t meet the criteria for the record.
To make sure that there’s no room for doubt, SSC roped in Racelogic USA to provide technical assistance with measuring and validating high-speed test runs, with speed and time data collected by a Racelogic VBOX 3i 100Hz GNSS system.
Jim Lau, who is technical director of Racelogic USA, was on site to install and verify the data recorded by the system, which is accurate to within a delta of 0.097 km/h (0.06 mph). A VBOX Video HD2 was also used for the onboard video speed overlay to ensure further correlation, with the footage available publicly.
While SSC hired professional racing driver Oliver Webb for its first attempt, the third (and second) attempt was done by Larry Caplin, the very first owner of the Tuatara you see in the video. While his achievement is already pretty special, Caplin believes the Tuatara is capable of breaching the 482.803 km/h (300 mph) barrier. The previous, controversial attempt saw the car hit an average two-way speed of 508.73 km/h (316.11 mph) and Vmax of 532.93 km/h (331.15 mph).
“We took a different approach this time in accelerating the car to the higher speeds. Larry Caplin, who owns the car, used a ‘drag race’ style of acceleration during the record runs, pulling full throttle and boost for 40-50 seconds,” said Shelby.
“Back in October, we were leaning into the speed much slower and used only about 20-25 seconds of full throttle and boost during the run. The difference is impressive both performance and operation wise. Larry pulled off a run that was far more difficult, at least by a factor of four, than what we attempted in Nevada,” he added.
So, a new speed king has been crowned, but there will be others that are also gunning for the record, including the Hennessey Venom F5 that is claimed to do 500 km/h (311 mph) and the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut.
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