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Six more crazy feats of speed on (closed) public roads

Koengisegg's 284mph Agera RS isn't the only road-going speed record holder...

  1. A Koenigsegg did 284mph this past weekend - on the road. That’s perhaps the craziest detail about the Agera RS’s charge into the production car speed record books, averaging out at 277.9mph. It was all accomplished on a standard-width, undualting, crosswind-susceptible road. A closed road, of course, with the Nevada Highway Patrol’s blessing and permission. 

    That got us thinking about about other feats of motoring speed and daring-do which occured not on test tracks and salt-flat deserts, but public roads. Going back almost to the advent of the motor car, it seems folks are obsessed with finding out just how fast they can travel on a public highway…

    Don’t try any of these at home. Or, for that matter, on the road. Both would be very dangerous…

  2. 1. Rudolf Caracciola’s Mercedes Rekordwagen

    In the late 1930s Mercedes and the Auto Union battled on new autobahns to set the on-road land speed record.

    Mercedes set the verified record of 268mph on 14 January 1938 with this 725bhp, twin-superchared V12 streamliner. The day would feature a counter-attempt, and a fatal outcome.

  3. 2. Bernd Rosemeyer’s Stromlinienwagen

    The forerunner to Audi almost snatched the record from Mercedes, when young F1 upstart Bernd Rosemeyer took his modified Group C racer to an estimated 269mph, moments before a massive accident killed Rosemeyer and put paid to the Nazi-overseen speed record runs for good.

    You can read the full story of what happened that day, and in the years leading up to the 268mph record, by clicking here.

  4. 3. America’s top speed supercar

    Before Hennessey’s Venom arrived, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT was ‘Murica’s fastest supercar. In 2006, the prototype shocked Bugatti by hitting a Guinness-certified 256.1mph on a closed road in Washington State.

    The driver, Chuck Bigelow, was seventy years old at the time of the attempt. So he’s possibly the world’s quickest road-going pensioner. Anyone care to venture a faster geriatric in a car?

  5. 4. The fastest road car at the ‘Ring

    Yes, technically the Nordschleife is a one-way toll road, and technically the fastest street-legal car to lap it is not the 6min 47sec Porsche 911 GT2 RS, but the Lanzante-modified McLaren P1 LM.

    Effectively, it’s a P1 GTR with even more aggressive aero aids (equating to a 40 per cent downforce increase), and a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 instead of the standard car’s 3.8-litre engine, good for 1,000bhp. It lapped the globe’s most infamous toll road in 6mins 43.2sec, then drove home to the UK. In the rain.

  6. 5. The first sub-17min IoMTT lap

    Perhaps the greatest, most terrifying continual dice with death on public roads for sport’s sake is the annual Isle of Man Time Trial. In 2016, Michael Dunlop rode the 37.7-mile course at an average of 133.37mph, and became the first of the sub-17 minute club.

    A special breed of lunatic, then. Dunlop, we salute you. And the racing leathers required to accommodate the necessary, ahem, bravery.

  7. 6. Testing a Le Mans racer on the M1

    British roads had 30mph urban limits as early as 1935, but out-of-town was still unrestricted. Sounds utopian, but brakes, tyres, headlights and crash protection really wasn’t what it is today, and it was only a matter of time before someone really took the mickey.

    The 11th Jan 1964 exploits of AC Cars became the most infamous, after it carried out a shakedown test of a Cobra Coupe Le Mans (similar to the Shelby pictured) up to 185mph on the M1. Motorway speed limits were introduced three years later - after a series of accidents caused by high speed in foggy weather.

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