► Single-seat electric racer makes competitive debut
► Features a 1,000bhp electric powertrain, rear-wheel drive…
► … and a downforce-generating fan like the Brabham BT46B
McMurtry, the start-up British EV manufacturer, will attempt to break the outright hill climb record at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with its new car, the Spéirling. It marks the first time a fan car has competed in motorsport since Niki Lauda won the 1978 Swedish Gran Prix in the Brabham BT46B.
McMurtry unveiled the Spéirling at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed, but it was only a static display. The company has been developing the car over the past 12 months to make it competitive for the event – and the brand hopes it’ll kickstart its career in the performance electric segment.
Fan car? Hill climb record attempt? You need to tell me what I’m looking at here
The McMurtry Spéirling is a dinky single-seat racer which features a similar downforce-generating fan as Gordon Murray’s revolutionary Brabham BT46B Formula One racer. It’s powered by a pair of electric motors mounted on the rear axle and built around a lightweight carbon fibre monocoque.
The performance specifications beggar belief. The Spéirling’s electric powertrain generates more than 1,000bhp, which McMurtry says is enough to shove the car from 0–60mph in less than 1.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 150mph – but that’s down to the close ratio hill climb gearbox.
McMurtry also says the racer’s fan can generate 2,000kg of downforce when the car is standing still. That’s double the Spéirling’s nimble 1,000kg kerb weight – and that means, at least in theory, it could stick itself to your living room ceiling by simply engaging the fan.
At 150mph, the Spéirling generates more downforce than a Formula One racer with some help from the front splitter and rear wing. However, because most of the downforce is generated by the fan rather than the aero appendages, McMurtry claims the Spéirling has a very low drag coefficient.
It’s powered by a 60kWh battery pack, which is about the same size as the battery in a Kia e-Niro. McMurtry says can store enough energy for around 30 minutes of flat-out track driving. Like the Porsche Taycan and the Kia EV6, it runs on an 800V electrical system.
Other standout technical features include active ride height suspension and a set of enormous carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston monobloc calipers. Oh, and did we mention that the Spéirling was engineered and built in Britain?
What’s the Spéirling up against?
Some very talented opposition, but McMurtry sounds confident about the car’s ability. The current Goodwood hill climb record holder is the Volkswagen ID.R, which posted a time of 39.9 seconds at the hands of Romain Dumas in 2019. Before that, the record-holder was the McLaren MP4/13 Formula One racer.
To get the best out of the car on the big day, McMurtry enlisted the help of former Formula One driver Max Chilton and British Hillclimb Championship leader Alex Summers. Chilton (who is also the lead development driver for the project) will get the most amount of time behind the wheel, piloting the Spéirling up the 1.16-mile course for three of the four days at the event. He’ll also be at the helm for the outright record attempt.
Chilton commented: “I’m looking forward to making my competitive hill climb debut. The challenge now is to translate confidence and speed from testing on conventional circuits onto Goodwood’s tight, undulating hill climb course. We will have limited practice runs and an audience of hundreds of thousands, so it’s a demanding yet great opportunity to show the current pace of this car on the world stage.
“The largely constant downforce is an innovative feature to exploit as a driver,” he said. “It’s very different compared to what I’m used to driving in F1 and IndyCar – and testing this year has required me to adapt my driving style to maximise performance.”
You can watch the McMurtry Spéirling tackle the Goodwood Hillclimb by tuning in for the “Batch 5” run of cars throughout the weekend. Saturday qualifying starts at 16:10 and the Sunday Shootout kicks off at 15:30.
Where did McMurtry come from? And where’s it going?
The company is the brainchild of the Irish inventor and businessman Sir David McMurtry. His team is staffed by engineers with backgrounds in Formula One racing and performance road car projects – and the firm’s goals are clear and simple.
McMurtry wants its new track car to fulfil its record-breaking destiny first, but the company has already set about developing its first road car. Details are still thin on the ground for the time being, but we expect it’ll draw inspiration from the Spéirling racer.
Once Goodwood is out of the way, the firm’s engineers will make a series of changes to the Spéirling and embark on a campaign of speed and lap record attempts at a range of “prestigious venues.” We wouldn’t be at all surprised if the car followed the Volkswagen ID.R around the globe with the intention of knocking it off its perch. Watch this space.