Pall Mall, London, Tuesday 1 November 2022 – The Royal Automobile Club has awarded the Simms Medal to McMurtry Automotive for the conception, design and manufacture of the McMurtry Spéirling, which this year broke the hill record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Simms Medal recognises ‘an outstanding contribution to motoring innovation’ by individuals or small companies that exemplify the ‘spirit of adventure’.
The Royal Automobile Club is Britain’s longest standing and historically most influential motoring organisation. Founded in 1897, to promote automobilism, the private members club champion motoring on road and on track. They delivered the first British Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926, launched the RAC Rally and introduced the modern era of Grand Prix racing at Silverstone in 1948. On the road, they were influential in passing the Motorcar act in 1903, issuing first driving certificates and have maintained their respected voice in the formulation of government policy for roads and motorised transport.
The Simms Medal is named in honour of one of the Club’s founding members, Frederick Simms. The Simms Medal is not awarded on an annual basis. Instead, it is presented only when the Dewar Technical Committee is satisfied that an event of sufficiently significant and outstanding innovation in the automotive field has taken place. The Technical Committee has existed for more than a century and is made up of leading experts from across the automotive industry.
Development of the McMurtry Spéirling began six years ago with the mission to make the World’s greatest small cars for the road and track. It is the brain child of businessman and inventor Sir David McMurtry, who founded the company with former Mercedes F1 engineer Thomas Yates. The compact rear-wheel-drive single-seater features the same footprint as a Formula 1 car from the early 1960s, but features an all-electric powertrain in a carbon monocoque and has a power-to-weight ratio of 1000bhp per tonne.
One differentiating feature to its performance, is a fan-powered downforce system – as outlawed in Formula 1 since the late 1970s. Two fans are placed behind the driver and connect through an intricate network of ducts to a sealed skirt beneath the car, creating a vacuum and giving both instant and constant downforce. They also produce over 100 decibels of jet-like exhaust noise, making the Spéirling – which is the Irish word for ‘thunderstorm’ – unique in the near-silent world of electric cars.
Its bespoke battery pack has been designed and built by McMurtry using cutting-edge, high-power lithium ion cells supplied by Molicel. The 60kWh battery is capable of delivering 30 minutes of hard track driving, which would equate to over 300 miles in normal road use.
The 0-60mph sprint is dispatched in under 1.5 seconds, while torque and grip can be adjusted to suit drivers of all abilities. In the hands of former Grand Prix racer and McMurtry’s head development driver Max Chilton, the results speak for themselves. At the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Chilton smashed the official hill record of 41.6 seconds, which had been set by Nick Heidfeld in 1999 aboard a Formula 1 McLaren. Chilton’s 39.08-second run also beat the unofficial record held by Romain Dumas in the Volkswagen ID.R.
The Royal Automobile Club’s headquarters in Pall Mall, central London, is considered the ‘Parliament House of Motordom’. As part of the award, the McMurtry Spéirling is on display at this respected venue where the club has been situated for the last 111 years. It is notable for the car to displayed in the centre of a major city opposed to a race venue, as the company is working on a road legal version for customers.
Max Chilton said: ‘Huge congratulations to everyone at McMurtry on being presented with the Simms Medal. As soon as I first sat in the Spéirling car, I could tell the teams attention to detail combined ambitious performance targets would yield a new benchmark for the industry. Driving this car is a unique experience. It’s exciting from the driving seat and from the grandstands, with the fan powered downforce system delivering distinctive speed and sound in equal measure”.
Thomas Yates, managing director of McMurtry Automotive, added: ‘We’re truly honoured to be recognised in this way by the Royal Automobile Club – the list of former Simms Medal recipients includes some serious engineering talent and we’re humbled to join them. We’re looking forward to attempting more famous records in order to further demonstrate the immense potential of the Spéirling, as well as developing the road version.’
Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Dewar Technical Committee, said: ‘This project is an outstanding example of pushing boundaries – the team were passionate on their mission to create a record-breaker. Thomas’ ambitious vision was revolutionary – to develop a leading-edge vehicle that would take the world by (thunder) storm, and that’s exactly what they achieved. Everyone on the Committee was stunned by the Spéirling, and there’s little doubt that it not only embodies the spirit of adventure but also demonstrates the engineering and technological capability in the UK today”.