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 Venom-GTThe Hennessey Venom GT (American Supercar) has set a speed record for a production car after hitting 270.49 mph on the space shuttle’s landing strip. At that speed, former race driver Brian Smith was covering nearly 400 feet per second while eclipsing the previous record of 268.86 mph held by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

John Hennessey is a Texas boutique builder who believes that if more is better, too much is almost enough. The superlative Venom GT is a 1,244-horsepower monster fashioned by stretching a Lotus Exige, then stuffing it with a 7.0-liter Corvette ZR-1 engine with a pair of turbochargers. For those looking to own this kind of insanity, a Venom GT starts at $1.2 million.

That price is a bargain compared to Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, the other supercar in the ongoing race for the top speed record. Hennessey and Bugatti have been competing for years, with bragging rights going back and forth between their headquarters in Houston and Alsace, France. This latest round occurred on Valentine’s Day, when Hennessey’s crew and the independent speed recorders from Racelogic descended on the 3.2-mile landing strip at Cape Canaveral. By the end of the day, Smith had made a GPS-verified run of 270.49 mph (435.31 km/hr).

Hennessey’s data indicates the car was still accelerating at 1 mph per second, according to Car & Driver, and Smith said he could go faster still “if we could run on an eight-mile oval.” That’s a dig at Bugatti, which set its record on Volkswagen’s test track in Germany.

Of course, the term “production car” is generous, because the Venom GT, like other cars that have held the title, is a highly exclusive machine built one by one. Few people will ever see one, let alone drive one. None of this matters to the arbiters at Guinness, who have a broad definition of “production.” An automaker must build at least 30 cars to qualify, and the car making the run cannot be a one-off or a track-only machine. It must pass emissions tests, and it must have headlights, turn signals and all the basic amenities you’d expect in any car you’d drive on the street.

There are nuances, of course, and the rules have led to some very public arguments over the meaning of “production” and what it means to hold the title. It’s an interesting argument if you’re into that sort of thing, and has made for a compelling drama over the years.

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-Culled from Wired

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