SSC has made yet another attempt to set a new speed record with the Tuatara, and this time they did it, posting an official speed of 282.9 mph (455.3 km/h), averaged over two runs in opposite directions.
That’s enough for the 1,750 hp hypercar built by Jerod Shelby’s company to beat the previous record of 277.87 mph (447.2 km/h) set by Koenigsegg in 2017.
In order to make sure no one could dispute the outcome, SCC brought along every speed measuring device they could think of. “We had Racelogic there with their VBOX equipment, we had Life Racing, we had Garmin, and we had IMRA, which is the International Mile Racing [Association],” Shelby told Car and Driver.
“We used equipment from all four groups and had staff there from three of those groups. But when it came down to it, it seems that everyone in the car community looks at Racelogic and VBOX as the most respected measurement tool, so they had multiple redundant systems in the car, and they had a gentleman named Jim Lau, their American representative, present for all the tests.”
In its first run that took place in October 2020, SCC claimed that the Tuatara had hit a two-way average top speed of 316.11 mph (508.73 km/h), only to retract that statement after a number of YouTubers calculated the numbers and distances on Google maps and compared them to the video provided by the company, finding it impossible for the car to be traveling at the speeds the telemetry indicated. A second attempt in December was foiled by heat issues with the car.
So, why didn’t they surpass the 300 mph mark? The run took place at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. That meant that the car had just 2.3 miles to accelerate, about four or five fewer than in their first test in Nevada and, as Shelby explained, just 0.7 miles to slow down.
Moreover, for this run, instead of their pro driver, Oliver Webb, SCC let the test car’s owner, Larry Caplin, drive the Tuatara. They also went with a lower gearbox ration to make up for the shorter acceleration distance, while, as Shelby stated, “We were still down about 300 horsepower when we did the first of the two record passes”.
“Really, all this is just a progress report on the status of our top-speed testing,” Shelby said, “and we’re still on that journey. We’re still moving forward; we’re going to be doing further runs in the future.”
Shelby, though, admits that he’s not sure whether or not the car can do 300 mph in just 2.3 miles. As to how the results of the first test were so questionable, he didn’t have a clear answer.
“All I can say is, there were multiple things that didn’t line up, and in the heat of the day, with a large film crew there, and all kinds of people around,” he said. “And we’re trying to make sense out of the data, things weren’t adding up to us, and we couldn’t make sense of it. We could not come up with clear-cut answers of exactly what went wrong.”