SSC North America made headlines last year when its Tuatara was reported to have hit record-breaking speeds of 331 mph, then again then people around the world began questioning the truth behind that claim. SSC’s CEO Jerod Shelby then announced that the team would be re-running the attempt with the goal of hitting 300 mph legitimately. Now, SSC has officially recognized it didn’t hit 300 mph — though Shelby is arguing that SSC North America definitely already did officially retract its initial speeds.
Phew. Got all that? Good.
SSC North America is currently making headlines over an Instagram post that read, in part, “We have seen your questions for months now and understand your frustrations. If it hasn’t been made clear up to this point, we would like to acknowledge officially that we did not reach the originally claimed speeds of 331 MPH or even 301 MPH in October of 2020. We were truly heartbroken as a company to learn that we did not reach this feat, and we are in an ongoing effort to break the 300 MPH barrier transparently, officially, and undoubtedly.”
Publications have been latching onto the post because it is, as the caption reads, one of the first official recognitions from the team that the attempted record was not what it appeared to be. Whether or not the SSC North America team stood by the record previously was a bit hazy; CEO Shelby did make a video in which he announced the team would attempt the 300 mph run again, which was something of a retraction of its claim to setting the record. But it was never totally clear.
Shelby even went so far as to email Motor1 over its story about SSC North America acknowledging it didn’t hit 300 mph. It read (emphasis added):
When I made my personal statement in October 2020 about the events that transpired after our initial reported record speeds, I believed we had made it clear that we did not stand behind those original speeds after new evidence challenged what we believed we had accomplished. In that October video statement, I acknowledged that we were unable to validate the claimed speeds and that we were unable to correlate the speeds between the GPS and the video. That is the moment we vowed to re-attempt the top speed runs in an open, transparent, and redundant way. There was a genuine mistake in how the capturing equipment was setup. We did not lie about the numbers and there certainly was no ill-intent or awareness of the mistake when we initially released the speeds. We truly believed we had initially hit those speeds, but when the achievement came into question and we dug into the discrepancies that we saw, we knew we could not validate our speeds in any way so we knew the only choice we had was to put October behind us and prepare to re-run for the record in a much different manner.
Over the course of the last several months, we have seen stories, posts, and comments that are contradictory to our retraction of our 300+ mph claims. This has not sat well with us, especially considering the immense amount of time and effort we have been putting into achieving what we believe the Tuatara is capable of in an open, transparent, and redundantly validated way we hope will redefine the standard for other manufacturers. Our recent social media post is a reflection of our commitment to ensure the car community’s trust is in our best interest, and that we do not intend to let false claims stand. The reception of our statement has certainly gained more attention than we anticipated, as we have believed our stance has been understood by the public for nearly 9 months. This does not seem to be the case, and we are committed to learning from our mistakes while also focusing on the exciting future ahead. We look forward to continuing to step up our top speed efforts in the coming weeks in the same open, transparent and validated manner that we did in January. We also want to thank all of those who were supportive and understanding of our unexpected incident in April that delayed our April record attempt.”
Basically, Shelby felt SSC North America had to reiterate the fact that it knows it didn’t hit 300 mph because many people don’t seem to realize he had intended to retract those claims in last October’s video.
The video, though, is vague. Shelby never explicitly says SSC North America disavows the claimed record. Rather, he says that he and his team reviewed the footage of the run and had the same doubts as many viewers of the video and that, try as they might, they would be unable to salvage anything from that particular record — which is, of course, why the team would have to re-run it. So, there was never exactly an official retraction of the record; Shelby just admits that it wasn’t perfect. You can understand where the confusion can set in.
Nevertheless, SSC North America now definitely, officially, and on-the-record wants you to know that it is aware it did not hit 300 mph with the Tuatara.