SSC concedes ‘mix-up’ on 331mph record

Jerod Shelby goes on record to explain the Tuatara speed discrepancy – best get comfy

By Matt Bird / Thursday, October 29, 2020

Once upon a time, top speed records were simple: a car went fast, a man in a funny suit from Guinness was there to verify, you read it about in a magazine or watched it on the news and that was that – record set and in the book. Now, in an age of social media, fake news and YouTube, the process is fraught with considerably more doubt and circumspection. Hence the suggestion that all was not as it seemed with the SSC Tuatara's 316mph average run in the Nevadan desert, with theories very quickly flying around the internet and most notably on PH. Now founder Jerod Shelby has gone on record in an attempt to clarify the situation.

There were too many videos, it seems. As well as the interior clip that depicted the record-breaking run – the video to be overlaid with the data – there was another onboard that didn't match the data and which some people saw. This is when the confusion spread and suspicion was aroused, because what the video showed and what the data said didn't tally up. "Somehow, there was a mix-up on the editing side, and I regret to admit that the SSC team hadn't double checked the accuracy of the video before it was released. We also hadn't realized that not one, but two different cockpit videos existed, and were shared with the world", is the official line. SSC is working with Driven Studios to release the raw footage "as soon as it's available".

SSC used Dewetron equipment to measure the Tuatara's speed, staff of SSC trained virtually leading up to the record run on how to use it. Two independent witnesses were on site to view the recorded speeds; SSC "intends to submit proof of what those witnesses had seen on the Dewetron equipment to Guinness for verification." In addition, the tech information not previously released has been published in an attempt to further SSC's case; using the 2.92 final-drive ratio and an 8,800rpm rev limiter, the Tuatara has a theoretical top speed of 333.4mph in sixth – seventh gear is intended as an overdrive. We can see in the video a run to almost the limiter in sixth gear, which SSC says was 8,600rpm, and therefore tallies with the 331mph claim.

So what happens next? SSC is submitting all the equipment used "for further analysis and verification of that equipment's accuracy", and the original onboard video will follow. The statement maintains that "we did it, and the numbers are indeed on our side"; however, it does also concedes that the video depiction had been "substantially incorrect". Only time will tell if the reputational damage can be repaired, but one thing is for certain: we haven't heard the end of this saga just yet. Expect another video – plus a whole load more speculation – in due course.

  • SSC Tuatara is world's fastest production car

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