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Production car hits record 331 mph on highway outside Las Vegas

Updated October 20, 2020 - 1:05 pm

A 1,750-horsepower production car built by a Richland, Washington, company set a record for the fastest speed on a public road this month as it reached 331.15 mph on state Route 160 outside Las Vegas.

On Oct. 10, crews shut down a 7-mile portion of Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump where driver Oliver Webb broke multiple vehicle speed records.

Webb pushed the Tuatara, built by SSC North America, to become the “fastest production vehicle” as it reached an average speed of 316.11 mph in two runs in the opposite direction. To set that record a vehicle must travel in opposite directions on the same road, hitting its top speeds both ways within one hour. Webb clocked 301.07 mph one way and 331.15 mph the other direction.

The runs also set the fastest flying mile on a public road at 313.12 mph and the fastest flying kilometer on a public road at 321.35 mph.

Officials on-site used Dewetron GPS measurements to track the speed runs, employing an average of 15 satellites to confirm the record. The vehicle also had to run on street tires and nonrace fuel.

“It’s been 10 years since we held this record with our first car, the Ultimate Aero, and the Tuatara is leagues ahead,” Jerod Shelby, CEO of SSC, said in a statement. “Its performance reflects the dedication and focus with which we pursued this achievement. We came pretty close to meeting the theoretical numbers, which is astonishing to do in a real world setting on a public road.”

After surpassing the previous record of 277.9 mph, Webb said he believed he could have reached even higher speeds if the conditions were right.

“There was definitely more in there. And with better conditions, I know we could have gone faster,” Webb said in a statement. “As I approached 331 mph, the Tuatara climbed almost 20 mph within the last five seconds. It was still pulling well. As I told Jerod, the car wasn’t running out of steam yet. The crosswinds are all that prevented us from realizing the car’s limit.”

The occasion marked the second time in the last three years that a land speed record was broken on Route 160.

In 2017, the previous two-way average record speed of 277.9 mph was set by a Koenigsegg Agera RS on an 11-mile portion of Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump. That 1,360-horsepower sports car eclipsed the 268 mph mark set in 2010 by a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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