May 2022
Press Release
May 25, 2022
SSC North America
Watch Video

SSC Tuatara Achieves New Top Speed

Tuatara Surpasses Own Top Speed Record, Hits 295 MPH
Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
May 25, 2022

SSC North America has reached another milestone in top-speed testing, surpassing the previous world record top speed set by the SSC Tuatara in January 2021.

American hypercar collector and Tuatara customer Larry Caplin piloted his SSC Tuatara with Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at Space Florida’s LLF, Kennedy Space Center Merritt, Florida on May 14th, 2022, where he previously broke the speed record for world’s fastest production vehicle on the 2.3 mile stretch of runway. A top speed of 295.0 mph (474.8 km/h) was recorded by data and performance logging firm Racelogic with dual VBOX GNSS systems onboard the Tuatara, as well as a Life Racing GPS unit for additional data acquisition. Present during the top speed run was Racelogic technician Mitchell Townsend and independent analyst Robert Mitchell, ensuring extra levels of transparency and validation measures that SSC North America has integrated into its testing process. 

SSC North America Founder and CEO Jerod Shelby was also present during the testing session, overseeing this latest top speed achievement. “The sheer rate of acceleration that the Tuatara was producing all the way through 295 mph really told us that this car is not even close to reaching its ceiling. All the data and imagery has given us a clear picture that the limiting factor wasn’t the car, but the fact that we ran out of runway,” says Jerod Shelby. “Our goal has been to actualize transparent data that shows what the Tuatara is capable of. We have finally achieved that goal, and in a remarkably short distance.”

Robert Mitchell, an independent analyst who has attended all of the Tuatara’s high speed testing sessions since December 2020, served an integral role in the transparency that SSC North America has implemented into its testing process. “This is probably the only record where somebody else, somebody external, has every bit of detail in this car and every bit of detail that has happened to it,” says Robert. “I think this car is a 300 car all day. The sheer acceleration at these high numbers above 250, 260, even into the 280’s, it’s hands down the fastest car that I have seen. The acceleration is there, the top end is there, and I believe that this is the only car that I know of right now that can be verified running 300, especially in such a short distance.”

“In terms of the rate of acceleration, it’s extremely fast going up. What was most impressive to me was how it kept going through fifth, sixth, seventh gear,” says Mitchell Townsend, the Racelogic Technician on-site during the testing. “No road car I’ve seen pulls like that.”

An amalgamation of art and engineering, the SSC Tuatara boasts impressive performance numbers thanks to key components that work in concert both on the surface and beneath the skin of the vehicle.

  • Peerless Aerodynamics: Designed in partnership with world-renowned designer Jason Castriota of Castriota Design, the Tuatara’s design achieved an all-time production-hypercar best coefficient of drag of 0.279. From 150 - 295 mph, the car maintained a perfect aerodynamic balance of 37% front and 63% rear, ensuring precision downforce across all four wheels. The progressive aerodynamics are achieved through an active wing system that provides variable control surface profiles to maximize speed and dynamic performance.
  • Unprecedented Drivetrain: SSC’s V8 powerplant was developed and built in collaboration with Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines. The bespoke twin-turbo engine produces 1,750 horsepower on E85 or Methanol, and 1,350 horsepower on 91 Octane. That power is transferred to a CIMA 7-Speed electronically controlled transmission working in unison with a state-of-the-art Automac AMT system that actuates operations, automatic clutch management, and active aerodynamics.
  • Safety: The Tuatara’s robust carbon-fiber monocoque provides vital safety to the driver, and is lightweight enough to ensure peak performance. Crash structures across the car generate superior shock-absorbing protection. 
  • Driver-Centered Design: The driver is the central and most crucial component in the Tuatara, inspiring a cockpit designed to elevate the operator’s awareness and connectivity to the vehicle and its surroundings. A teardrop canopy styled to echo that of a fighter jet gives the driver sweeping visibility. At their fingertips are an ergonomic steering wheel with sequential shift lights and a comprehensive touch screen center display, interfacing crucial vehicle data and controls. Customizable suspension, shift profiles, and variable traction control are at the disposal of the driver to offer a tailored driving experience. 

The SSC Tuatara’s high speed success has been 10+ years in the making, with the DNA for speed dating back to 2007 when the Tuatara’s predecessor, the SSC Ultimate Aero, was crowned the fastest production car in the world. “Our top speed goals have been a moving target over the years,” says Jerod Shelby. “When the Tuatara was conceptualized years ago, 300 mph seemed like a fantasy. But when you spend nearly a decade building a car as capable as the Tuatara, our reach of what is possible has expanded further with each milestone achieved.” With goals as ambitious as SSC’s, there have come many challenges and lessons learned. “As we’ve learned more about the potential of the Tuatara and have become more comfortable with what it can achieve, we have faced new learning curves. October 2020’s initial high-speed test was one of those moments. After coming to terms with realizing the errors made in our execution of that record attempt, we have learned a great deal not only in bolstering our data acquisition, but reevaluating how we can be more transparent with the community on this journey to accomplish great things.” The last nineteen months of “retooling” the company’s method of pursuing record attempts has fostered countless relationships with fans, industry experts, and critics alike. “I’m hopeful that what we have achieved and what we hope to continue pursuing will not only push the boundaries of engineering forward, but bring the car community closer together,” says Shelby. “We are thrilled to be involved in such a unique industry with other legacy brand manufacturers, and honored to be engaged with this special community.” A recent collaboration with Los Angeles based performance innovator Zander Guerra is one example of SSC’s vision of making the Tuatara a platform of functional art through creativity and innovation. 

295 mph does not bear closure on the ambitions of the SSC Tuatara and its team. Although a monumental accomplishment, SSC is just getting started with showcasing all of the other performance characteristics of the car. “We have cracked the door open and given the world a glimpse of what the Tuatara truly is capable of,” says Shelby. “Now it's time to focus on letting customers experience this package that we are incredibly confident in.” With production in progress at the company headquarters in Richland, Washington and deliveries putting this capable car into the hands of the public, customers are already collaborating with SSC to pursue soaring goals with their Tuataras. Announced in May of 2021 were the Tuatara Striker and Aggressor variants, outfitted with spectacularly captivating aero features and compelling performance on the track. Also planned is a “molecular” transfer of appearance and performance of the Tuatara to a new model. Dubbed “The Little Brother” project, this next line of SSC vehicles plans on bringing the SSC brand to a larger market of consumers at a fraction of the cost.

Exclusive SSC North America Stories

Driven Studios, a Los Angeles based production company, and Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Productions has been following SSC North America for over four years, crafting objective stories and capturing historic moments in the journey of Jerod Shelby and his team to build the first production car capable of 300 mph, told through an upcoming feature length documentary. Discover exclusive content and never-before-seen footage at www.theworldsfastestcar.com.

SSC North America

Founded by Jerod Shelby in 1998 in Richland, Washington, USA, SSC North America is the American hypercar company that created the Ultimate Aero and Tuatara. The Ultimate Aero, previously held the “Fastest Production Car” record, from 2007-2010, after it clocked 256.14 mph. It still stands among the fastest, most versatile supercars on the planet, and has served as the foundation for what would become the Tuatara hypercar. In 2021, the Tuatara reclaimed the world record for SSC, with an average of 282.9 mph, followed by a second test nineteen months later that achieved a top speed of 295.0 mph. SSC North America is producing 100 road legal SSC Tuatara hypercars, with 25 additional non-road legal variants. High-speed, high-downforce, and track versions are available to customers. For more information visit www.sscnorthamerica.com 

SSC North America Communications