Our man catches up with the team behind the wild track-only EV
This week Steve had reason to dust off his tuxedo, catches up with the creator of a track-only EV racer, and makes plans to expand his motoring fleet.
Few things in life lift your spirits like motorsport success, even when it’s other people’s. I was flattered to be invited to Motorsport UK’s Night of Champions in central London to see 2021’s winners receive their gongs; and the spectacular big-screen video of great competitors in action, even in low-key disciplines like production car trialling, made the initially unwelcome act of exhuming my dinner jacket from the wardrobe seem entirely worthwhile. And that was before counting the ambience and sumptuous hospitality.
I sat on a hacks’ table between commentators Jenny Gow and Louise Goodman, whose trackside tales provided yet more entertainment. Note to self: do more motorsport.
The news that ex-Formula 1 driver Max Chilton has joined McMurtry, the tiny performance-EV start-up based near me in Gloucestershire, set me wondering how things were going with Spéirling, the outrageous single-seat, track-only fan car that it revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year and has been testing ever since.
Inspired by billionaire industrialist Sir David McMurtry, the project aims to show by efficiency as much as speed the potential of high-performance EVs in racing and eventually on the road. So I rang managing director Tom Yates, a four-year veteran of the project, for a chat.
Yates reckons Chilton has joined at just the right time: he showed me a video clip of the new chief test driver pulling 2g-plus through a couple of Castle Combe bends with the downforce fans “just starting to work nicely”. It’s pretty clear that the Spéirling will soon demolish the lap record.
The team have much to do before they’re ready to sell a planned handful of track-only cars (potential owners are standing in line) and several more to hit their next target of launching a special, focused and very expensive road car. But the potential is dazzling.
Like you, I’ll bet, I’m an instinctive lover of the whole process of car design, but at times it seems as if lots of good teams are labouring away in different corners of the world to design the same car and – lamentably – achieving just that. Scan today’s gamut of C-segment SUVs and I defy you easily to see the differences between a Ford, a Hyundai, a Kia, a Toyota and a Vauxhall.
That’s why I so admire an idea that has just popped up on Car Design Research, a busy designers’ website that summarises news, trends and high spots. They’ve created the simple but brilliant concept of the Budget Airline Car – a roomy six-seat EV designed to carry you and five others on a typical budget short-haul flight, which would generate around 2% of the CO2 that you would produce in the airliner
The benefits are clear: obviously it’s quicker to fly from Heathrow to Birmingham, but by the time you chuck in the travel-to-the-airport time, check-in and security and then reverse it all at the other end, you’ve used most of the time you would need for the plane journey. Simple ideas are so often best.
I’m sorry to discover how car ownership has turned me into a hypocrite. I headed to Bicester Motion for the latest Scramblers’ get-together in my new Alpine A110, on roads that seemed knee-deep in the salty, oily concoction that they use to keep ice at bay.
As you might already know, this car was previously part of Alpine’s press fleet (I’m braced for hordes of hacks telling me they “did a lot of skids” in my car), and back then I would’ve had no qualms about driving it in whatever conditions obtained.
But at home that afternoon, post-Scramble, I fretfully spent an hour washing the evil gunge from my car’s pristine body, brakes and wheels. It’s funny how obsessive you get. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.
And another thing…
A bullish assessment of BMW’s new CE 04 scooter by our new sister website, Move Electric, has pushed me over the edge. I’ve had the itch for ages, but now they say it rides so well (quicker and lighter than my superb C Evo) that I can’t face more delay. Deposit sent.