A year after its debut as a show car, McMurtry Speirling is said to have become the first enthusiast car to compete in an official race since 1978, breaking the 40-second mark to win this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and becoming the fastest car ever to challenge the famous Hillclimb.
Formula One driver Max Chilton used the unique single-seater’s all-electric powertrain and thundering on-demand downforce system to beat the still daunting 2019 record of the Volkswagen ID.R.
Since Speirling’s debut at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the McMurtry team has put the prototype through a rigorous testing and development program. During that time, it has effectively multiplied the available downforce to 2,000 kg, a figure that is still more than twice the weight of the tiny car, and McMurtry says that at its current top speed of 150mph (241km/h), the Speirling has more downforce than a Formula One car.
Unlike ground effects and other aerodynamic tricks that derive downforce from airflow, the downforce obtained through McMurtry’s system is instantaneous at 0mph and requires minimal drag, a combination McMurtry calls “the holy grail of tire grip and energy efficiency. The car uses this holy grail to achieve an extremely fast 0-60mp (96.5km/h) sprint in under 1.5 seconds. Currently, it has a top speed of 150mph, simply because of its hill-climbing gearing – future iterations are expected to push that number north.
Chilton joined McMurtry Racing earlier this year as its lead development driver and has played an integral role in the test and development process. The company announced two weeks ago that it plans to have Chilton drive the 1.16-mile (1.86-kilometer) hill climb at Goodwood and plans to win and set an overall time record in 2022.
Zilton and McMurtry won Sunday’s Goodwood Shootout, achieving both goals with a time of 39.08 seconds. The time easily beat the official Shootout record of 41.6 seconds set by Nick Heidfeld in 1999 and the unofficial qualifying record of 39.9 seconds set by Romain Dumas in 2019. Heidfeld set the record on a McLaren MP4/13 F1 car at the time, while Dumas got the record on a Volkswagen ID.R car that had already set several records.
After setting the record, Chilton said: “I’ve been coming to Goodwood since I was four years old. After witnessing Nick Heidfeld’s official record: did I ever think I would be the one to beat him? Taking that record was the most memorable of my racing career. It was only possible because of the amazing team of engineers at McMurtry Automotive. Thank you to the Duke and Duchess and all the fans for their support.”
McMurtry said that event marked the first time a fan car had participated in an officially sanctioned racing event since Niki Lauda won the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix in a Brabham BT46B.
Inspired by 1960s Formula One cars, the tiny Speirling is only 3.5 meters long, 1.7 meters wide and 1.1 meters tall. The single-seater, which weighs less than 1,000 kilograms, is powered by a twin-motor rear electric drive connected to a P26A cylindrical lithium-ion battery pack from Chinese and Taiwanese company Molicel, which produces 1,000 horsepower per ton. The battery pack can provide up to 30 minutes of track time.
The latest version of the Speirling also features a carbon fiber monocoque, active height suspension, custom 210/640R19 front and 240/640R19 rear tires and carbon fiber ceramic disc brakes.
While Speirling’s thundering 100-decibel fan system and central cockpit are at their best on the track, McMurtry still plans a street-legal version that will be customized and handcrafted to each buyer’s unique specifications. When not pushed to its maximum, the 30-minute battery will produce a range of about 300 miles (483 km) on the road.
McMurtry did not state a time frame for the release of the road car, but it promised some radical performance updates and more record attempts after the Goodwood victory.