Faster Than An F1 Car! Driving The Incredible McMurtry Spéirling Fan Car | Henry Catchpole

Faster Than An F1 Car! Driving The Incredible McMurtry Spéirling Fan Car | Henry Catchpole

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(engine revving) - So this is it, the McMurtry Speirling. Power map four. So the full thousand-brake horsepower, and then 23,000 RPM on the fan. So, 2000 kilos of downforce, 0-60, in 1.3 seconds. (engine revving) Oh my word. Oh my word, oh.

(engine revving) Wow. But the mad thing is, that rather like the McLaren F1's incredible top speed, the McMurtry Speirling's straight line acceleration is really just a byproduct of what this fan car is really all about. And so today, we are going to show you what it can do in the corners. (upbeat music) (engine revving) This is McMurtry's very cool setup at MIRA, the world-renowned test facility in the UK.

In order to fully explore the wild limits of the Speirling fan car during our brief time with it, we'll be using this huge area that even takes into account the curvature of the earth to make sure it's perfectly flat. With a special machine, MIRA has painted a unique course that perfectly replicates the village, loop, and Luffield corners at Silverstone. The car, just to recap, is the same one that smashed the hill climb record at Goodwood, with Max Chilton at the wheel. It has two fans capable of producing 2000 kilos of downforce. It's fully electric, but far from silent. Has a 60 kilowatt-hour battery, a carbon fiber monocoque, and a thousand brake horsepower, which it sends solely to the rear wheels via two motors in the McMurtry e-axle.

Now, in order to experience the cornering for the first time, I headed out to drive around this simple, constant radial circle. Should be that easy, right? (upbeat music) Here we are, rolling out onto this huge surface out here. (engine revving) I'm just going to do a couple of laps just to scrub the tires in, remind myself where this (engine revving) circuit goes. It's such a cool thing just to be in.

I mean, it feels really super snug in here. I think snug is the word actually. Amazingly, despite measuring just 11 feet long, five feet wide, and 41 inches tall, or roughly the footprint of a 60's Grand Prix car, the tiny Speirling will accommodate someone up to six-foot, seven inches tall. Those shelf-like bolsters either side of my head felt a bit unnerving at first, but they're actually part of the LMP-1 standard safety systems. (engine revving) So, into this steady-state circle now, we've got no fans on at the moment. So I'm just, sort of, holding it in this circle.

It's actually really quite nice steering, you can feel what the car's doing. Now, I'm going to put the fans on, so this is the world first on camera. So it's down here, and it's just going to start ramping up, that's 19k. Okay, so, let's feel what that's. Oh my word, you can feel the steering just load up instantly. (engine revving) Oh my word.

That's mad. It's just, that is actually quite disorientating. (engine revving) Oh. My word.

Okay, we have reached it. I think my eyes actually gave up before. (engine revving) Let's try that again.

(engine revving) I'm not sure I can hold on. Oh my word. (engine revving) Right, I'm going to have to stop. (engine revving) Okay, right.

I feel dizzy. My mouth is really dry, I need a drink of water. That is, I have never felt anything like that in a car. That is such a bizarre feeling of just this limpet-like grit grip. Nothing, nothing approaches that in terms of grip and how stuck that is and the sort of forces on my body. I mean, this is, like I say, 2.8G

does not do that justice, for, like, the speed we're going at around there. That's, that is just bizarre. This is not just for camera. If anybody's watched my films before, they'll know that I'm not one given to, sort of, hyperbole, unnecessary hyperbole. That is going to take a bit of thinking about. And think I did.

But to be honest, it was more than I could really process in the minutes and hours afterwards. So here's me a couple of days later. I realized that I just sort of made noises for a lot of that, but that's what this car does to you.

I was pulling 2.83G in that constant-radius corner, at up to 70 miles an hour, and my body just started doing weird things. The fluids started getting pushed in odd places, and it was like I needed my own, sort of, dry sump system.

It wasn't that, it's a, it's not a difficult car to drive, because you've just got two pedals and the steering wheel. You've got no gears to worry about, nothing like that. So it's, sort of, the barrier to entry, in terms of technical skill is really not that high which makes it even more mind bending. It is just the sheer physical force that's being exerted on you, it makes it so discombobulating.

You might have noticed that the fans in this bit are 19,000 RPMs, so we were getting about 1500 kilos of downforce as opposed to the straight line stuff where it's the full 23,000 RPM and 2000 kilos. But that's because McMurtry's worked out that actually, this is the, sort of, the comfortable spot in terms of cornering for the tires. And more about tires in their development later in this.

But I thought that was just worth mentioning. What does it feel like? Well, as the fans come on, it's like somebody is just pouring weight into you and you're just, sort of, you're just getting heavier and heavier. It's a bizarre feeling. And the G forces, I've been in a stump plane a couple of times and pulled up to, sort of, 4 or 5G in that but this is almost more violent because you've got the grip coming up from the tarmac, and that just gives a totally, sort of, different, sort of, feel in terms of the forces acting on your body.

In order to give myself a breather and understand a bit more about this particular fan car, I thought I should have a quick chat to Tom Yates, who is McMurtry's Managing Director, and an all-around good egg. Tom, this is slightly different to Chaparral or a BT46B, isn't it? Can you just explain, what is going on? What fans have we got here? What's going on to generate the downforce? - Yes, so, you are right. It's a big evolution from those cars though. I mean, they truly were inspirational in their time and they've been a huge part of the inspiration for delivering this car. But the whole system has been developed to a much more modern standard, should we say, using all the latest, sort of, technologies and trickery that we could, to make it.

One of the really key things to delivering a great downforce system is the skirts. And so the beginning of the journey when you're trying to make a car have excellent fan-based downforces, it's all about the skirt system. So this car particularly employs a skirt system that does a wonderful job of sealing against the surface of the ground, making sure that actually, the air that's drawn from the fan system is kept to an absolute minimum. That really, sort of, I guess, differs from the Chaparral and the Brabham in the, we've got a, sort of, a moving skirt system that helps to make the the system incredibly compact because by virtue of minimizing the losses through the skirts, we get this really, really efficient system that delivers the downforce that you've just felt. Other ways that it differs, of course, are, it's an electric fan system.

So the beauty of using electric motor for fan system is, the correction for torque for changes in flow rate is absolutely instantaneous. So unlike, in the Brabham BT46B, where the fan was connected to the crank shaft, I think on the gearbox, where you needed engine revs to be a particular speed to give you downforce, this is entirely independent. And the ability of the fans to compensate, as I say, is instantaneous. So we, it enables us to give us, to give this really, really, sort of, constant downforce that the driver can really exploit.

And in addition to that, again, different to those previous cars, we've got a dual system. And the reason that we've got a dual system is to give, it's almost like aircraft levels of redundancy. So we've designed the entire system to be completely redundant from side to side.

You felt the power of the system in terms of the way it changes the characteristics of the car. So we had to deliver a dual system just to make sure that, should you have the the unimaginable happen, a blade failure or something, that you just couldn't predict, you've still got the vast majority of the downforce on the other side and from the second fan. And that means that if you were to have an issue, it's not a case of a cars bearing off. In fact, it's, the system ends up being much more reliable than even, say, a wing on the front of a car that's very easy to knock off into the first corner.

It's worked out really well, so - And I suppose something in there as well, there's a couple of things there in terms of the power drain, obviously running a fan from an electric car, but am I right in thinking that actually, that's less than you would have to have in terms of overcoming the drag with conventional wings downforce? - Absolutely right. - Is that right? - Yeah, that's absolutely right. When you get to the point that you're doing a really good job at the ceiling, the power that the system requires to deliver that downforce tends towards zero. Essentially, if you could completely, perfectly seal the skirt system, you would need no power to run it in the same way that a a suction cup doesn't need any power to stay stuck to a a window, by virtue of doing a really, really good job with the ceiling, we are in a position where the power of the system is really, really low, yet is delivering Formula 1 levels of downforce. In fact, this particular car, we believe delivers downforce, sort of, surplus downforce, more than that of a Formula 1 car, up to really quite high speed, sort of, 160, 170 miles an hour depending on what, sort of, leaked information you believe.

- So it will drive on the ceiling presumably? Everyone wants to know. (both laughing) - So it wouldn't just drive on the ceiling. I think there'd be opportunity to do for all sorts of Tom foolery on the ceiling while you were hanging up there. - [Henry] You could park it up there? - You could park it. (Henry laughs) I think we could, potentially, we could go so far as doing the first ever upside down burnout one day, you can go. (Henry laughs)

- [Henry] I think I might let Max Chilton volunteer for that one. The skirts, by the way, are slightly inboard, so that you can clip curbs on a circuit. Although a full track limits breach that would break that crucial seal is not recommended.

Oh, and just in case you're worried about following one on the track day, it has a multi-stage filtration system, meaning it doesn't spit anything larger than dust particles out of the back. Tom says it's essentially the world's fastest road sweeper. Right. Time to get back in the car and try the full figure of eight course.

(engine revving) Let's turn those fans back on. Fans please. Richard O'Brien quote. (engine revving) Right, let's try and really push this. (engine revving) Wow the acceleration out of there.

You just stamp on the throttle, I'm still. (engine revving) That is nuts, absolutely nuts. (engine revving) You barely need to brake. (engine revving) Sliding through there, okay. (engine revving) I'm looking so much further ahead than I've had to before in my life.

(engine revving) I mean, trying to talk and do this is, my mouth is genuinely dry. (tires screeching) (engine revving) There's another slide. And this is really tire limited. Sliding, catching the slide, didn't spin because you've got so much downforce. The amazing thing is, even, (engine revving) when you do start to slide, there's still grip, it's like, (engine revving) Porsches, it feels lovely over the limit because it's still always gripping.

How can human beings do this? But somehow I am. They've gone and made it actually accessible. (engine revving) That's my breathing. I'm not trying to create some, sort of, blue movie soundtrack. (engine revving) You can hear the fans spooling down.

(engine revving) I'll just do a cooling down lap, for me, more than the car. (engine revving) I'm quite, physically, I'm relatively fit. I think. I always have thought I am. I can do a 10k in, you know, I once did it in 34 minutes.

This is just, (engine revving) it takes so much thinking about and this is just a simple, sort of, figure of eight with different radius corners, obviously, and trying to, and you can look so far ahead and you, you can catch those little slides, that's the weird thing because it, sort of, gives you time. You think, I'm generating so much grip, how can I be sliding? But when you do, because it keeps that grip the whole way through, it's not, it's not losing downforce, you know, you don't get a gust of wind and suddenly lose downforce, which you hear the F1 drivers complaining about. It's just there the whole time. Even if I had spun, I hate spinning, so I'm glad I didn't. But even if you do, you just apparently, it just stops ridiculously quickly because all the downforce is still there, even backwards.

I know you're intrigued about the spinning thing now and well, just for you, I did go back out and I pushed it until I spun. Here you go. (engine revving) (tires screeching) Oh, we've spun.

Oh, I did what Max said. (engine revving) Wow, we stopped quick there. Whoa, it makes me slightly queasy just seeing that again.

But it's another one of the bizarre, baffling, fascinating things about this car that I thought you just had to see. For reference, that was the facsimile of the loop corner at Silverstone. And the McMurtry would go through there at 66 miles an hour without spinning. And Lewis and co, in full qualifying trim, would be well over five miles an hour slower than that.

Madness. Now, before I got out of the car, there was one more thing I wanted to try, a run from nought to 100, to nought again. Right. I'm at 4,000 brake horsepower, fans up to 23,000 rpm. And now I put my foot flat on the throttle, and, (engine revving) try and get ready, head back this time, here we go.

And foot off the break now. (engine revving) (Henry shouting) Wow, that was nought to hundred to nought. Actually, it wasn't. That was a nought to 113 and back to nought again because, well, frankly, I just couldn't keep up and hit the brakes in time. I went from nought to 113 miles an hour in 3.38 seconds. I then went from 113 back to nought again in 2.7 seconds.

So what does that mean? Well, it means a nought-to-a-hundred-to-nought time of under six seconds is on, which is just bonkers. Even crazier, it did that whole thing in under 170 meters, just under a hundred meters to get to a hundred miles an hour, and then 67.8 meters to get back to zero again, that's utter madness.

Part of the reason I wanted to do that though, was to highlight the braking. Because in a conventional downforce car, what you do is you smash the brakes as hard as you can when you've got all that downforce at high speed, but then you have to bleed off the pedal as the downforce and speed decreases. In this, you don't have to do that.

You can just keep your foot absolutely smashed against the pedal and it will take it, hence, the fact it's got massive 390 millimeter brakes, which is, really, might look massively over brake for something that weighs about a thousand kilos. Now you might be thinking that some of these ludicrous figures will be watered down for the customer versions of the car when they go on sale, but you'd be wrong. So the car that people are actually going to be able to buy is gonna be even faster than this. - Indeed, yeah. So, so we're building, we're building a derivation of the Speirling Goodwood car, called the Speirling Pure.

And it's, in honesty, the aesthetics of the car remain very, very similar to what we've produced here. But under the car it's completely new, under the skin, we've got an all new powertrain, got an all new battery system, new fan system, and we, we are building it on a new tire as well. So we're going 60 mil wider with the rubber front and rear, which, from our simulation suggests that we'll get another 25% more cornering force.

So a little bit more than what you've just experienced. And the lap time effect is really strong as you'd expect. Yeah, it's gonna be an amazing new thing.

- That's just, I, I, I'm struggling to compute what I've just felt. So the idea of having, this is a, you know, it's a much bigger tire, so that's mad. In terms of this, this is going to be a track-only car, am I right? Because you've talked obviously about, we've seen the number plates on this car in the past, and at some point, there probably will be a road version? - There absolutely will, yeah. And it's simply due to, customer demand has been, give us a fan car and give it to us quickly. And, and so the, the, the, the the quickest way that we can get this car into the hands of our excitable customers is to do a track-only derivation. And yeah, we are just so excited to get this to market soon.

- So with this new battery packs, what are we looking at in terms of, if I turned up to a track day, have you got any, sort of, how long, how many laps can I do? Is it one lap and then you're done? - On a circuit like Silver Stone National, The simulation suggests that at the, sort of, the outright lap record pace of that circuit, we would be doing 10-plus laps quite happily. And I think most people find themselves desperate for a break after those sorts of durations. - And am I right in thinking that the, that's the current outright lap record pace and this could actually potentially go faster than that? - Certainly than the, yeah, than the National record. So the, the Silverstone National record, I believe is held by, the 2005 Formula 1 car, and yeah. And the performance of the pure will be quite outstanding, but it, but hopefully as you've seen, it's very approachable. It's not, it's not just for Formula 1 drivers to enjoy.

It's, it's a car that you can really grow with and it's been lovely to see you exploit the limits of the grip and to get it sideways with the downforce on today, really enjoyed watching it. (upbeat music) - [Henry] So there we are. Even more performance to come in the customer car.

It's going to cost 820,000 pounds plus taxes. But honestly, I don't wanna use the word bargain, but compared to the cost of other hyper cars, I can't see potential customers balking at the price. And the thing is, whatever else you might have in the garage, you are not going to have anything like this. It is a completely different automotive experience, which is probably why, slightly bamboozled and baffled, I sat on the car and said this in conclusion at the end of the day. Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure. It's not my words.

Those, the words of Aldous Huxley, in an essay that he wrote. And he was talking about the fact that, the car provided something that no man had ever really experienced before in terms of speed. Because it was different in terms of being on a horse which went up to, say, 20, 30 miles an hour, perhaps. But the car could go so much faster.

And so humanity was experiencing something totally new. And that's kind of how I feel with this, because this is providing a sensation of speed that, well, I don't know, that humanity has ever really experienced before. Yes, airplanes can pull massive G, but that's up there, kind of, with not really any reference points, and Formula 1 cars can't provide the downforce that this does at low speeds.

It is genuinely mind blowing to experience, and something that is, well, as you've seen, quite hard for me to get my head around, in a way. And I was asked when I got out of the car, did I like it? But it feels, sort of, wrong in a way to say, did I like it? Because it feels bigger than that. When Neil Armstrong stood on the surface of the moon and experienced something no man had ever experienced before, did he like it? Well that's sort of belittling it in a way.

It's somehow bigger than that. I'm not saying this is stepping on the moon, but in automotive terms, it's incredible. (drum beating) Yep, completely failed to talk at that point. (laughs)

2023-05-15 13:42

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