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 533 km/h. 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 447 km/h, set by a McLaren, and hit 455 km/h.
That’s extremely impressive, but a far cry from the claimed 533 km/h of their previous attempt and leaves that taunting 483 km/h 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 the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at Kennedy Space Centre. 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:
279.7 MPH (479.1 km/h)
2:38:09 PM local time
286.1 MPH (460 km/h)
3:28:51 PM local time
The average of both runs gives a speed of 455 km/h, 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: 3 km
Top speed of 460 km/h achieved in 3 km
The Tuatara accelerated from 440- 460 km/h within 2.87 seconds at the end of the southbound run
The Tuatara reached 393 km/h 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 sceptical 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 533 km/h, 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.