Record-setting McMurtry sports car sucks air for speed

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It looks like a baby Batmobile and goes like a bat out of hell.

The British McMurtry Spéirling electric track car set a blistering new record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb this weekend by tearing up the 1.16-mile course in 39.08 seconds.

The time beat the previous quickest marks of 41.6 seconds set in 1999 by a McLaren F1 car and then 2019 time of 39.90 seconds time registered by the VW ID.4 electric prototype.

The electric single-seater was driven by former F1 and IndyCar driver Max Chilton at the annual event, which features street and racing cars covering the entire history of the automobile racing up the hill one at a time in procession.

The McMurtry Spéirling weighs less than 1,000 kg.

The McMurtry Spéirling weighs less than 1,000 kg.
(Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

The Spéirling is the brainchild of Irish billionaire Sir David McMurtry and named after the Irish word for thunderstorm.

The carbon fiber car is just over 10 feet long and narrower than an original VW Beetle, with styling that makes it look like a baby version of the Michael Keaton-era Batmobile.

Professional racing driver Max Chilton of Great Britain during The Goodwood Festival Of Speed 2022 at Goodwood Motor Circuit on July 26, 2022 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Professional racing driver Max Chilton of Great Britain during The Goodwood Festival Of Speed 2022 at Goodwood Motor Circuit on July 26, 2022 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Exact specifications haven’t been shared, but it weighs less than 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) and has an electric powertrain that delivers at least one horsepower per kg to the rear wheels, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 1.5 seconds.

The secret to its success is a fan-powered system that sucks the air from underneath the car to create a vacuum effect that keeps it stuck to the road with less of the drag-producing wings and spoilers commonly used on sports cars. 

A fan creates a vacuum under the vehicle.

A fan creates a vacuum under the vehicle.
(McMurtry)

The concept was made famous by the Chaparral 2J endurance racing car and Brabham BT46 Formula One cars of the 1970s, both of which were later banned from competition. McMurtry says the system generates over twice the vehicle’s weight in downforce, even when it’s not moving, which was demonstrated by the almost comically-fast way it negotiated the turns on the Goodwood track.

The company says the car can be driven at racing speed for 30-60 minutes between charges of its 60 kWh battery and plans to take it to circuits around the world to claim as many records as possible before a street legal version in development goes on sale.

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“It will never be the most comfortable over speed bumps, but that’s not really the point. The point is you have this unbelievable, loud, exciting, electric really compact car that you know will be the fastest [car] at any track day you attend,” managing director Thomas Yates told Autocar.


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