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HomeBusinessMcMurtry Spéirling electric fan car sets new Goodwood Hillclimb record

McMurtry Spéirling electric fan car sets new Goodwood Hillclimb record


A radical British-built electric car that looks like something Batman would drive has set a new record over the weekend, smashing the fastest time up Goodwood’s iconic Hillclimb course with a stunning run on Sunday.

The McMurtry Spéirling, a 200mph battery-powered single-seater that uses two fans to suck it to the road, posted a time of 39.08 seconds at the 1.16-mile route within the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex.

With former Formula One driver Max Chilton at the wheel, it beat the previous record time – held by a specially developed electric Volkswagen – by almost a second.

The dinky McMurtry, which has been likened to a shrunk-down Batmobile, measures in at 1.5 metres wide and 3.3 metres long – that’s smaller than a VW Up! city car. 

Holy Hillclimb, Batman! This dinky Batmobile-looking electric car hurtled up Goodwood's famous Hillclimb course in a new record time at the weekend

Holy Hillclimb, Batman! This dinky Batmobile-looking electric car hurtled up Goodwood’s famous Hillclimb course in a new record time at the weekend

Chilton, who raced for Marussia F1 in 2013 and 2014, initially rocketed to the top of the all-time fastest list at the Goodwood Festival of Speed event on Saturday with a timed assent of 39.14 seconds.

However, on Sunday during the timed shootout event, he managed to go even quicker, shaving another six hundredths of a second off his previous best to finish with an average speed of 149.13mph.

To put the record 39.08 time into perspective, a BMW M4 CSL – the German brand’s 543bhp road car – took 51.12 seconds to finish the route on Sunday, and that was with professional hill climb racer, Jörg Weidinger, pushing the performance car to the absolute limit. 

The McMurtry’s time betters the old record that has stood since 2019, set by the Volkswagen ID.R electric vehicle – a zero-emission racing car developed to compete at the US Pikes Peak hill climb event in Colorado, which it won in 2018. 

With Romain Dumas – a French racing driver – at the controls, the VW completed the narrow, twisting course in 39.9 seconds.

Prior to that, Goodwood’s Hillclimb record had remained unbeaten for over 20 years, when McLaren test driver Nick Heidfeld set a staggering time of 41.6 seconds in Mika Häkkinen’s 1998 championship-winning Formula One machine the same year.

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Speaking after smashing the record, Max Chilton, who is the McMurtry Spéirling lead development driver, said: ‘I’ve been coming to Goodwood since I was four years of age. After witnessing the Nick Heidfeld official record: Did I ever think I would be the one to beat that? No. 

‘Taking this record is the most memorable of my racing career. This was only possible due to the amazing team of engineers at McMurtry Automotive.’

The car debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2021 but was unable to break the record then. 

The company was founded in 2016 by Irishman Sir David McMurtry, with the car’s name – Spéirling – meaning thunderstorm in Irish.

The McMurtry Spéirling, a 200mph battery-powered single-seater that uses two fans to suck it into the road, posted a time of 39.08 seconds at the 1.16-mile route within the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex on Sunday

The McMurtry Spéirling, a 200mph battery-powered single-seater that uses two fans to suck it into the road, posted a time of 39.08 seconds at the 1.16-mile route within the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex on Sunday

With former Formula One driver Max Chilton at the wheel, it beat the previous record time - held by a specially developed electric Volkswagen - by almost a second

With former Formula One driver Max Chilton at the wheel, it beat the previous record time – held by a specially developed electric Volkswagen – by almost a second

The remarkable electric car can plant all of its near-1,000bhp (745kW) to the tarmac instantly thanks to its pair of underfloor fans that generate more downforce than an F1 car. This results in a 0-to-60mph acceleration time of under 1.5 seconds

The remarkable electric car can plant all of its near-1,000bhp (745kW) to the tarmac instantly thanks to its pair of underfloor fans that generate more downforce than an F1 car. This results in a 0-to-60mph acceleration time of under 1.5 seconds

The McMurtry Spéirling is the first fan car to be sanctioned for motorsport use since 1978, when the technology was banned following its use in the race-winning Brabham BT46 fan car

The McMurtry Spéirling is the first fan car to be sanctioned for motorsport use since 1978, when the technology was banned following its use in the race-winning Brabham BT46 fan car 

Much of vehicle’s incredible performance that allows it to hurtle up the narrow ribbon of track in a remarkable time is down to underfloor fans that suck the car down to the track, so that it can corner at implausible speeds.

It is the first fan car to be sanctioned for motorsport use since 1978, with the technology outlawed by the FIA after the late Niki Lauda piloted the Brabham BT46 fan car – created by brilliant designer Gordon Murray – to victory at the Swedish Grand Prix that year, sparking uproar and protests from rival teams and an eventual ban. 

When the pair of underfloor fans are in operation, they create incredible amounts of downforce, generating over 2,000kg at a standstill and another half tonne when travelling at speeds up of 150mph – more than current-generation Formula One machines.

It means the car can plant all of its near-1,000bhp (745kW) to the tarmac instantly, resulting in a 0-to-60mph time of under 1.5 seconds. 

Max Chilton, who raced for Marussia F1 in 2013 and 2014, initially rocketed to the top of the all-time fastest list at the Goodwood Festival of Speed event on Saturday with a timed assent of 39.14 seconds, but went even quicker on Sunday

Max Chilton, who raced for Marussia F1 in 2013 and 2014, initially rocketed to the top of the all-time fastest list at the Goodwood Festival of Speed event on Saturday with a timed assent of 39.14 seconds, but went even quicker on Sunday

The car is said to be able to hit 186mph in 9 seconds and exceed 200mph flat out. The underfloor fans can be turned off when the vehicle is moving in a straight line and the excess downforce would hamper its speed

The car is said to be able to hit 186mph in 9 seconds and exceed 200mph flat out. The underfloor fans can be turned off when the vehicle is moving in a straight line and the excess downforce would hamper its speed

The dinky motor, which has been likened to a shrunk-down Batmobile, measures in at 1.5 metres wide and 3.3 metres long - that's smaller than a Volkswagen Up! city car

The dinky motor, which has been likened to a shrunk-down Batmobile, measures in at 1.5 metres wide and 3.3 metres long – that’s smaller than a Volkswagen Up! city car

The Spéirling has an enclosed single-seat cockpit and lightweight carbon-fibre body. The battery powering the electric motor is integrated into a U-shaped safety cell that wraps around the driver's seat. Total kerb weight is less than a tonne

The Spéirling has an enclosed single-seat cockpit and lightweight carbon-fibre body. The battery powering the electric motor is integrated into a U-shaped safety cell that wraps around the driver’s seat. Total kerb weight is less than a tonne

In a straight line, the fans can be turned off to prevent excess downforce from slowing the car when maximum cornering grip isn’t required.

It has an enclosed single-seat cockpit and lightweight carbon-fibre body with the battery integrated into a U-shaped safety cell that wraps around the driver’s seat for supreme balance. This results in a total weight of less than a tonne. 

It is said to be able to hit 186mph in 9 seconds and exceed 200mph flat out. 

And just because it is electric, don’t think it’s silent: with the fans operating, the car generates 120dB of sound, which is comparable to that of a jet engine at full speed.

It can run at race speeds for between 30 minutes and an hour and – with the powertrain wound down significantly – has a claimed range of 350 miles. 

Just because it is electric, don't think it's silent: with the fans operating, the car generates 120dB of sound, which is comparable to that of a jet engine at full speed

Just because it is electric, don’t think it’s silent: with the fans operating, the car generates 120dB of sound, which is comparable to that of a jet engine at full speed

It has been claimed that the can run at race speeds for between 30 minutes and an hour and - with the powertrain wound down significantly - has a claimed range of 350 miles

It has been claimed that the can run at race speeds for between 30 minutes and an hour and – with the powertrain wound down significantly – has a claimed range of 350 miles

McMurtry Automotive was founded in 2016 by Irishman Sir David McMurtry, The car's name - Spéirling - means thunderstorm in Irish

McMurtry Automotive was founded in 2016 by Irishman Sir David McMurtry, The car’s name – Spéirling – means thunderstorm in Irish

The new record betters the previous fasted run up the Goodwood hill set 2019 by the Volkswagen ID.R electric vehicle (pictured)

The new record betters the previous fasted run up the Goodwood hill set 2019 by the Volkswagen ID.R electric vehicle (pictured)

Also setting a new record over the weekend was Ford's bonkers Supervan. The 2,000bhp electric Transit completed the course in 46.59 seconds, making it the fastest commercial vehicle to go up the Goodwood Hillclimb

Also setting a new record over the weekend was Ford’s bonkers Supervan. The 2,000bhp electric Transit completed the course in 46.59 seconds, making it the fastest commercial vehicle to go up the Goodwood Hillclimb

Thomas Yates, managing director at McMurtry, said: ‘Goodwood has always been a spectacular global event, celebrating different eras of motorsport. They have made it possible for fan car to compete again, having had a 40 year hiatus since Niki Lauda won in Sweden. 

‘The Sperlings nostalgic and compact proportions, were mirrored in many of the paddocks classic racing cars. 

‘And combined with this outright record breaking performance, I hope this goes someway to show the world why small cars are the future. 

‘I’m incredibly proud of the whole team who have delivered this result. This weekend has built a solid foundation for the future of this car and the company.’

McMurtry is continuing to develop the vehicle in the hope of setting up a one-make race series by 2024, with each competition car rumoured to be priced at around £1million. 

There is also talk of the Gloucestershire-based brand creating a road legal version, with the company allowing potential customers to reserve a build slot on its website for, what it says would be, ‘perhaps the wildest electric car to ever wear number plates’.

Also setting a new record over the weekend was Ford’s bonkers Supervan. The 2,000bhp electric Transit completed the course in 46.59 seconds, making it the fastest commercial vehicle to go up the Goodwood Hillclimb. 

> Read more about the Ford Supervan in our special report 

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