SSC said it set a new speed record for a production car in October, with its Tuatara supercar averaging 316.11 mph in both directions. Problems with the race and the way it was measured prompted CEO Jerod Shelby to withdraw the request shortly thereafter, but promised to repeat the race. Well, that’s how it went, but it didn’t go as planned and no speed records were set.
On Wednesday, the Nürburgring taxi driver Robert Mitchell published a video on YouTube about the record attempt by SSC Tuatara from December 12th to 13th.
The SSC team made the new record attempt on the NASA track in Florida, where Hennessey Performance Engineering had also set its Venom GT record.
On the first attempt in October, the SSC team used a Dewetron TRIONet chassis with a GPS map and a laptop to process satellite location data. For this new record attempt, the SSC team implemented redundancy for satellite tracking with two Racelogic systems including a VBox system and an OEM system, a Life Racing tracking system and three Garmin systems, all installed on the Tuatara. Some were installed on the roof of the car, others in the trunk. The latter posed a problem because, according to Mitchell, cables protruded from the hood of the car and the hood stayed open during high-speed races over 200 mph.
On the first attempt at the record, professional Oliver Webb took the wheel, but on the second attempt, owner Larry Caplin raised his hand and said: “Guido, I own the car, this is my car,” said Mitchell.
Since Caplin had minimal sitting time in the car, SSC decided to cut the turbo boost and engine times down and then rebuild things as Caplin was more comfortable.
In the penultimate race in Caplin, the Tuatara reached 244 mph in sixth gear halfway. At this point, the car was so overheated that the engine software adjusted the timing to save the engine. The problem was with two candles, although no one checked the candles and found the problem was there.
A cool box was installed to cool the intercooler and the entire engine for almost two hours and to restore the correct temperature. The momentum was increased to less than 3 pounds of peak power and Caplin was off for another run.
This time the tuatara hit 251.2 mph before midpoint when Caplin miscarried because he felt like the car wasn’t charging as it should. At this point, the SSC team discovered that two cylinders had lost power and the record attempt was over. The 251.2 mph race was run with two cylinders that didn’t fire properly.
The Motor Authority contacted Shelby to confirm Mitchell’s story about the record attempt and received no response at the time of publication.
According to Mitchell, SSC plans to restart NASA’s record attempt in January. Click the video above for a more detailed explanation of the race.