It seems a million months ago, but it was only in October of last year that SSC claimed to have set a new production car top speed record in their Tuatara with an astounding speed of 331 mph. Unfortunately, there were so many questions and inconsistencies and problems with the runs, instrumentation, and documentation of the record that in the end, nobody — not even the driver — was able to certify the result. SSC founder Jerod Shelby pledged to re-do the attempt, and it looks like they have.
I’ll go ahead and give you the result right up front here, in case you’re reading this while on a speeding motorcycle or something (which is a bad idea): they did break the former record of 278 mph, set by a McLaren, and hit 282.9 mph.
That’s extremely impressive, but a far cry from the claimed 331 mph of their previous attempt and leaves that taunting 300 mph barrier unscathed.
SSC changed the venue of their record attempt from a straight stretch of Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump in Nevada for a test with Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at the Space Florida LLF at the Kennedy Space Center. I know that sounds awkward, but that’s how the proving grounds people want me to write it.
This is an excellent place for such a high-speed run because this three-mile stretch of pavement was designed as the runway for Space Shuttle landings, and as such is incredibly flat — less than 0.25 inch of difference in elevation from one end to the other flat.
Two runs were made, one in each direction:
2:38:09 PM local time
3:28:51 PM local time
The average of both runs gives a speed of 282.9 mph, good enough to beat the record.
The driver of the car was actually the car’s owner, Dr. Larry Caplin, who I suppose is now also the World’s Fastest Dentist (on land).
According to Jarod Shelby, Dr.Caplin took a different approach to the run than the previous attempt:
“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. 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.”
Here’s SSC’s video of the run:
SSC also provided some interesting details:
Total space available for this speed run: 2.3 mile
Top speed of 286 MPH achieved in 1.9 mile
The Tuatara accelerated from 274-286 MPH within 2.87 seconds at the end of the southbound run
The Tuatara reached 244 MPH within one mile
SSC does seem to have learned from their previous fecalshow of a record attempt before, and they have an independent analyst, Robert Mitchell, who had posted skeptical videos about the previous SSC runs.
So, barring any new developments, it looks like SSC has set a new production car top speed record, and while it’s significantly less than the claimed 331 mph, it’s still way, way faster than any supercar driver of any type is likely to drive.
I’m sure plenty of internet sleuths will be looking carefully at the video and numbers, but I think this time SSC’s claims will hold up.