McMurtry Automotive at Goodwood Festival of Speed: The Debrief

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The McMurtry Spéirling flies past Goodwood House on its way up the Hillclimb at the Festival of Speed

Earlier this year, after almost three years of top-secret design and build at McMurtry headquarters, we were finally ready to show the world what we’d been up to.  We were honoured to be invited to enter our car, the Spéirling, into the Goodwood Festival of Speed for its public debut, eager to learn how it would be received as a new concept for electric track and race cars.

The Festival of Speed is a celebration of all things motoring, with an emphasis on allowing motorsport enthusiasts to get up close and personal with cars spanning all generations of racing.  From the 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix racer to Group B Rally cars, Group C Le Mans prototypes to modern day Formula 1 contenders – spectators can time travel 100 years and back in an afternoon.

Our car fits into the cars-of-the-future category as a ground-breaking pure electric track car, designed to showcase a possible future for electric motorsport.   A fast and efficient track weapon, with the all-important noise factor that petrolheads crave, the Spéirling stood out from the crowd at the Festival in more ways than one.  As the car spun up its downforce generating fans, it captured the ears, eyes and hearts of passers-by exploring the cars on display.

Derek Bell and Alex Summers discuss the McMurtry Spéirling from a driver's perspective
Derek Bell and Alex Summers discuss the McMurtry Spéirling driver to driver

We are very fortunate to have legendary five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell as a development driver, along with 2015 British Hillclimb champion, Alex Summers, who has enjoyed podium finishes in every round of the championship this year as he looks to reclaim his crown.

These two, who have been driving the Spéirling since it first turned a wheel, continued pushing the car to new heights during the Festival of Speed, even providing insightful feedback on the latest setup of the car between each 1.1 mile run up the iconic Goodwood Hillclimb, allowing improvements to be made at an astonishing pace. 

To Derek, Goodwood must feel like a second home, it is hard to walk past a row of historic racing cars without seeing his name sticker on at least one.  Derek has nothing left to prove in motorsport having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times, the 24 Hours of Daytona three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice.  For him, this project is about passing on his knowledge.  From how to set up a winning car to how to build a winning race team, Derek has been there, done that, and has got plenty of wisdom for us to drawn upon.  The fantastic racing tips, tricks and stories he shares inspire the next generation of racers and make Derek a pleasure to work with.

The McMurtry Spéirling speeds off the start line and into the first corner of the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb
The McMurtry Spéirling speeds off the start line and into the first corner of the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb
Photo credit: Jayson Fong – FoS 2021

Now at the start line, the tension builds.  After accelerating out of the blocks and taking the double right hand turn, the hill invites you to speed past Goodwood House with crowds lined five-deep either side of the hay bales, heads turn and cameras flash.  The Spéirling has so little drag and so much power that it reaches the iconic bridge in no time, blink and you really do miss it.   

After the bridge, the grandstand draws in close, where the spectators really can hear and see the downforce-on-demand system pinning the car to the tarmac.   Next up is braking into Molecomb corner before the ascent continues in the shade of the trees to pass the iconic flint wall.   The narrow Spéirling offers a different option of racing line for ‘threading the needle’ in this section, allowing a faster exit speed than a wider car may manage.  Turning into the forest, the cars disappear from sight, only to be heard from afar and watched on the giant screens as they cross the finish line.  The cars gather at the top, where the drivers give TV interviews, before cruising back down the course into the paddock to prepare for the next assault on the hill.  A regular heartbeat over each day of the four-day event.

David McMurtry and Derek Bell share a joke at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
Sir David McMurtry and Derek Bell MBE chat at Goodwood Festival of Speed

On Sunday our families joined us to see if all the late nights and weekends had been worth it.  Sir David McMurtry and his family also stopped by to see the Spéirling and celebrate with the team that takes their name.  There was a real sense of pride among all involved that came and experienced the Spéirling first hand. 

We owe massive thanks to the organisers of the Goodwood Festival of Speed for making the 2021 event possible.  Despite the ongoing pandemic, they did an incredible job in bringing the Festival back after the hiatus of 2020 safely, and without compromising the excitement of the world’s greatest celebration of motorsport.  Thank you to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon for hosting the event and to everyone who worked so hard to make the Festival happen this year.  What an incredible event, we were proud and privileged to be a part of it!

Featured photo credit: Nick Dungan – FoS 2021

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