Some outlandish occurrences you really need to be there to believe. This is not one of them. Even on video, Max Chilton’s record-breaking run up the Goodwood Hill on Sunday is breathtaking. In fact, you can actually hear the crowd gasping as the McMurtry Spéirling tears up the world-famous 1.16-mile course. Play any other footage you like for context; the oddly proportioned, rear-wheel-drive electric fan car is plainly shifting at improbable, relentless speeds everywhere.
Of course, you won’t actually need subjective context, because the Festival has the stopwatch running for its timed shootout, and 39.08 seconds tells its own story. The last time the event permitted F1 cars to attack the hill unhindered by safety concerns, the V10-powered McLaren MP4/13 famously broke the tape at 41.6 seconds - a record that stood for 20 years before Volkswagen sent along the Romain Dumas-piloted ID.R in 2019. That all-wheel-drive EV - already a record-holder elsewhere - duly dipped under 40 seconds.
However, without wishing to diminish the efforts of VW, that achievement was widely predicted in the build-up. After all, one of the world’s largest manufacturer’s had brought its colossal technical expertise to bear, and the team turned up to Goodwood brimming with the sort of confidence that you get from umpteen triumphant goes in a simulator. In start contrast, McMurtry Automotive, heralding from the automotive powerhouse that is the Cotswolds, and operating for just six years, has a distinct whiff of ‘backroom boys’ about it.
Obviously we mean that in the most complimentary way possible. They came (in 2021), they saw, they got better, they conquered. Technically, the car is still in its development phase (‘2022 McMurtry Spéirling Prototype – Goodwood Edition’ is how its described on the website) and the firm still hasn’t gone into exhaustive detail about its ‘clean sheet’ design. But we do know the secret of its success: the mind-blowing 2,000kg of fan-powered downforce it generates from a standing start.
As McMurtry itself helpfully points out, that’s more than a Formula 1 car manages at 150mph. Which is rather handy when you’re only going 1.16 miles. Also rather handy is the 1,000hp per tonne power-to-weight ratio claimed for the Spéirling, which enables a 0-60mph time of 1.5 seconds. Clearly it is by virtue of both these attributes - i.e. absurd apex speed and savage acceleration - that the single-seater has achieved the target set for it by its maker just last week.
With a little help from Max Chilton, of course. The former F1 driver hasn’t been associated with the team for that long, but he sure earned his spurs on Sunday. And there’s more to come. Alongside the prospect of a road-going version - you can already peruse the brochure, and register your interest - McMurtry suggests there are already ‘radical updates’ planned for the car post Goodwood, with the aim of furthering outright performance ahead of additional speed and lap records in the future. Given where the Spéirling is at already, you rather fear for the outright best time previously recorded at virtually any venue. One to watch, eh?
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