A British electric car maker you’ve likely never heard of has caused a giant upset at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, thrashing the latest high performance models from Ford and Porsche and even beating Volkwagen’s mind-scramblingly fast ID.R. British startup McMurtry Automotive snatched a new course record, as its tiny, fan-assisted Speirling hurtled up the hill in just 39.08 seconds – eight tenths faster than the VW ID.R. managed in 2019.
Britain’s Max Chilton, a former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver, was at the wheel to claim the outright hill record from VW, and the timed shootout record which had been held by Nick Heidfeld in the McLaren MP4/13 F1 car for 23 years.
Max Chilton, lead development driver for McMurtry, said: “I’ve been coming to Goodwood since I was 4 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.”
The record run illustrates what happens when you really rethink the electric car. The Speirling goes against the grain by being compact and lightweight, maximising its battery power and even adding in a ground effect fan. And it may just be the kind of EV innovation needed to get car enthusiasts excited about an electric future.
Dust and swirling air can be seen pouring from the Speirling’s fan arrangement, which is said to be so powerful it can provide a eye-popping 2000kg of downforce at a standstill. Although McMurtry hasn’t yet revealed the complete technical specification of its single-seat racing car, the Speirling’s electric motors generate about 1000bhp, and the car weighs no more than 1000kg.
The manufacturer, which is based in the Cotswolds, says its new machine generates more downforce than a Formula 1 car at speeds up to 150mph, with significantly less drag. This downforce allows the instant torque from the drive motors to be fully deployed, enabling a 0-60mph time of less than 1.5 seconds and a top speed of 150mph – the latter capped due to the gearbox selection for the hillclimb course.
Speaking of his appointment to be lead development driver for McMurtry, in February, Chilton said, “The company is really reaching new heights in the performance EV world. The team have spent over four years developing the Spéirling, a car which will really show the world what performance can be achieved with all electric power.
“McMurtry caught my eye last year; their professionalism and ability to invent new solutions is something I have never experienced at this level. I am excited to see what we can achieve in the future, particularly developing a road car which has always been on my long term list to achieve.”
Thomas Yates, managing director of 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. A massive thank you to the Duke and Duchess and the Goodwood team for believing in us when they first discovered our ambitions 18 months ago.”
The Spéirling is said to be the first fan-car to compete in officially sanctioned motorsport since the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.