SSC Tuatara (really) breaks top speed record, awaits Guinness verification

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SSC North America

Following a successful two-way average of 282.9 mph in the Tuatara hypercar, SSC North America has fulfilled its commitment to rerun the production car top speed record attempt.

Unlike the first record attempt back in October 2020, which was mired in controversy, the seconds set of runs took place at the Johnny Bohmer Proving grounds—a space shuttle runway-turned high-speed proving grounds at the Kennedy Space Center near Orlando, Florida. This time around, it looks like the data will hold. Both runs—the 279.7 mph northbound run and the 286.1 mph southbound run—were independently verified using Racelogic Vbox data loggers, operated by a Racelogic representative.

That last bit is important. The veracity of SSC’s speed data was what got the firm into hot water during its first attempt in the Nevada desert. After announcing that the Tuatara had achieved an average speed of 316.11 mph on Highway 160 outside of Pahrump, SSC released footage of the runs with speed data overlays. It wasn’t long before internet skepticism surfaced. One YouTuber in particular, Robert Mitchell, laid out the case for why the claimed speeds couldn’t be real, leading to widespread demands for clarification. Eventually, SSC CEO Jerod Shelby issued a video statement confirming that the video data provided, along with the speed overlay presented misleading information. To settle the matter, he invited Robert Mitchell out to witness SSC’s future record attempts in person.

2021 SSC Tuatara Reruns Record Rear 3.4
SSC North America

This time around, Mitchell was on site to watch Dr. Larry Caplin—owner of Tuatara #001—pilot the car in both directions at speeds that (at this early stage) appear great enough to snatch the two-way top-speed title from its previous owner, the 277.87 mph Koenigsegg Agera RS. That said, the figure still has to be verified by Guinness to become an official record.

Shelby noted a few key differences in this run, which was performed on a 3.0-mile private runway rather than seven miles of two-lane public highway. Key among them was the start; during the initial October attempt, European race car driver Oliver Webb accelerated to top speed more gradually, only holding full throttle and boost for around 20-25 seconds of the total run. In this most recent attempt in Florida, Caplin used a drag race style dig start, holding the Tuatara’s 5.9-liter, twin-turbo V-8 wide open and pushing full boost for a whopping 40–50 seconds. Nearly as impressive as the 282.1-mph average top speed stat: SSC claims that the Tuatara hit 244 mph within one mile of its standing start.

We know that Shelby is eyeing the 300 mph mark, and that the ultimate goal for the Tuatara is the daring 500-kph threshold (roughly 310.7 mph). Whether or not that feat can be achieved by anyone other than Bugatti at Ehra-Lessien remains to be seen. If SSC’s data from this latest attempt is verified, we’re betting that the Tuatara will shoot for 500 kph out on that now-infamous strip of highway near Pahrump.

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