Autocar has today set two new world indoor speed records at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre; a new indoor speed record and a new road car indoor speed record. The first of the brace of world firsts was achieved by Bill Cooper in his Group 9 Autograss Special competition car, and the second by Autocar's own editor-at-large Steve Sutcliffe in a supercharged Ariel Atom.
The records were set on a 300-metre track running through several of the halls at Birmingham's NEC. Drivers Sutcliffe and Cooper had to accelerate to the maximum speed they judged possible and then break to a halt within the prescribed distance, but that didn't stop either of them blasting their way into the record books.
Autocar assembled fifteen cars up for the attempt in total (see gallery), including the flyweight Caterham CSR260, the Ford GT supercar (right), and a 500bhp Ford Fiesta rallycross car. However, the fastest times of the day were set by Cooper in his grass track racer, whose 82mph speed was the fastest of the day overall, and by Steve Sutcliffe, who drove Ariel's supercharged Atom to 76.3mph shortly afterwards.
Next in the road car running order came the Mitsubishi Evo FQ360 (75mph), the Audi RS4 Avant (74mph) and, in a surprise result for Mercedes, the giant ML63 AMG (72mph) - proving that on a slippery surface, all-wheel-drive traction is all-important. 'This is one of the more ridiculous things I've ever been asked to do for Autocar,' commented Sutcliffe, 'but it was certainly great fun. It was all about traction in the end - or rather lack of it. The Atom recorded the fastest time of the day by short-shifting to fourth gear really early on in the run; that was the only way I could reign in the wheelspin.'