Dissecting The SSC Tuatara Record Run With Math And Science

Illustration for article titled Dissecting The SSC Tuatara Record Run With Math And Science
Photo: SSC

I have refused to subject my brain to the complexities of math and science since I finished my last core requirement for my liberal arts degree, but 2020 keeps forcing me to acknowledge the existence of both. Today, looking at the SSC Tuatara record run in order to understand if it really broke a record and how fast it actually went.

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If you haven’t followed the news, well—you’ve missed out. In sum: SSC took its Tuatara out to a sanctioned Nevada road and told the press it had clocked 331 mph, which would make it the fastest production car in the world. Then some folks with the Internet actually analyzed the run and decided that something didn’t look right. Even the driver wasn’t quite sure he’d clocked a record speed. Last week, SSC announced it would just be trying to re-do the run all over again.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not the greatest with numbers, which means that I just didn’t know what to make of some of the articles and videos that have popped up. Somehow, though, Jason Fenske at Engineering Explained managed to use calculus and still phrase it in a way that made sense.

Fenske talked to pretty much everyone involved with putting together the run as well as some of the folks on YouTube that initially called out the discrepancies in the video footage.

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The basic consensus is: SSC messed up big time. It got a little too ahead of itself announcing its record to the world without verifying its accuracy, which is something you should never do lest you be torn apart by the Internet. But if you want to know all the math and science behind why SSC’s triumphant press release was wrong and how to tell, well—I leave that to Mr. Fenske, who will do a far better job explaining the complexities of the whole situation than I can.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

The video from SSC was pathetic. “It’s been an emotional week”. “We don’t actually own the footage that was released”. WTF? “discrepancies with the GPS”. what? How?

If you were doing this and it was the culmination of 10 years worth of work, wouldn’t you make you sure the data was unassailable before you released it? Everything they do in the future will be tainted by this. Oh you broke a record? Suuuure you did?

Such an amateurish cock up.  How could they be that stupid?