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

by Hagerty
10 May 2023

Watching Henry Catchpole drive the McMurtry Spéirling in ever-faster circles on a handling pad at MIRA looks disorientating enough, so for the first time in one of his videos, we’re quite glad it’s not us behind the wheel.

This is the car we saw breaking the hill record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so most car enthusiasts probably now have a good idea of the Spéirling’s searing pace. But it’s one thing watching and quite another taking part, and as Henry gets to grips with the fan car’s two metric tonnes of downforce and thousand-horsepower output, it’s clear this is a car like no other.

Within the first few seconds of the video we’re treated to a full-bore acceleration run, and then those rapid circles – with the Spéirling pulling up to 2.8g of cornering force. If that sounds less than we’re used to hearing about F1 cars at some of the world’s fastest corners, perhaps the unusual thing here is that thanks to those fans sucking the car to the road, you don’t need ever-faster airflow over the body to generate more and more downforce, and as Henry confirms later on, the Spéirling is circling that handling pad at a rate an F1 car, going too slowly to generate its maximum downforce, would struggle to do in a corner so tight.

Later, Henry has a chat with McMurtry’s Managing Director, Tom Yates, who explains just how the car makes all that downforce, via its fans and skirts, as well as how it differs from famous fan cars like the Chapparal 2J and the Brabham BT46 Grand Prix car – the cars most analogous to this mad little project.

The result of all that downforce is a real workout for the driver, with even a pilot like Henry, familiar with some of the world’s greatest supercars, left out of breath and feeling tumble-dried by a few laps around a figure of eight.

And if straight line speed really is your bag, then Henry’s 0-100mph-0 later in the video will probably be of interest. We’re not talking top-fuel dragster straight-line speed, but few, if any other vehicles on earth would go and stop that quickly in a similar test.

It’s lunacy from start to finish frankly, and like we said at the top, we’re kinda glad it’s Henry rather than us behind the wheel. Let us know what you think in the comments section below…

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