Top speed world records are a big deal; car manufacturers spend an exorbitant amount of money and time to chase these records, and conversely (some) people spend their hard-earned money to buy these cars based on their record breaking figures. So naturally, when SSC posted the full video for the Tuatara VMax record run, you know that it will be put under the microscope by peering eyes.
The high-speed run was incredible to watch to say the least, thanks to its 360-degree camera angle giving you a surreal representation of speed inside the car. However, upon closer scrutiny, there seems to be a few contradictions that raises questions on the genuineness of the attempt. In fact, multiple prominent YouTube personalities have taken to the platform to voice their concerns.
The first video that really sparked the conversation was from Tim Burton of Shmee150. By doing some basic calculations based on the time it took for the SSC Tuatara to travel between two points of a known distance on Nevada’s Highway 160, he was able to work out the theoretical average speed estimates of the car – which were significantly lower than the speed claimed to be achieved by the car – we’re talking a delta of at least 20 km/h to 160 km/h here.
This video below by Misha Charoudin (who you might recall, was on board the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport’s Nurburgring lap) presents the data and calculations in more detail if you’re interested:
The speed calculations from the method above also coincides with the visual analysis using the painted white lines, which are painted exactly to spec in the United States – 3 metres (10 feet) of white line, followed by a 9-metre (30 feet) gap.
And that’s not all; by using the gear ratio specifications of the exact gearbox model published on the SSC North America website (the record is for the world’s fastest production vehicle, which means that it has to be the same car that is being sold to the public), cross referenced with the tyre specifications from the press images and engine speed from the dashboard, they were also able to deduce the speed of the vehicle during the run. And what do you know – the calculated speeds resembles too closely to those derived from the visual calculations above for it to be a coincidence.
In an interview with YouTube channel Life of Palos, driver Oliver Webb also revealed that the SSC Tuatara maintained sixth gear during its high-speed run – which when based on available data, suggests that it is physically impossible for the car to reach 331 mph (533 km/h) without the engine being blown to shreds.
If the above methods are still not enough for you to doubt the world record attempt, then perhaps this video will. By pitting the SSC Tuatara’s VMax run against that of the Koenigsegg Agera RS, it’s evident that despite showing significant higher speeds on the GPS tracker, the Tuatara still took a longer time to reach specified points on the road.
There are many other details that raises more suspicion to the entire matter too, such as the blurred-out speed readings on the dashboard, no back-up GPS systems for validation, and not to mention the fact that SSC North America disabled comments on their social media pages after people started questioning the world record attempt.
Now, we’re not saying that SSC definitely faked the Tuatara’s record-breaking attempt. These calculations are based off of observable data points from the video after all, and not based on actual data figures extracted from the car, GPS tracker, or on-site measurements. There are just too many unknown variables to mark this as the true definitive answer.
The video could also be a reenactment of events, or from a different (slower) run, overlaid with the record-breaking telemetry data. However, presenting a reenacted video as truth does still leave a bad taste in our mouths, especially since it is so heavily publicised as the “official footage” of the record breaking run.
Following the widespread speculation across social medias, SSC Founder Jerod Shelby released a statement today saying that the data from the record-breaking run have already been validated by Dewetron, the manufacturer of the GPS tracking device – which basically meant that unless Dewetron made a huge blunder, SSC will be standing by its numbers and claims.
However, Shelby made no points in the statement to directly rebut the anomalies uncovered on YouTube, leaving most fans unsatisfied with the response. It remains to be seen if any data logs will be made available to the public following the outrage, but we’ll keep you posted if there are any developments from the parties involved in the record-breaking attempt.