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Watch the Hennessey Venom GT break 270 mph, setting a new record — of sorts

Alex Lloyd
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Hennessey Venom GT
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Hennessey Venom GT

Hennessey has long claimed its 1,244 hp Venom GT as the rightful king of speed among production cars, despite failing to match the mark set by the Bugatti Veyron. As part of that contention, John Hennessey has said the Venom GT would hit its mark if it only had enough tarmac — which explains why he approached NASA and asked if they could borrow the Kennedy Space Center's landing strip.

After two years of organization and talks, Hennessey finally got on the strip and proved his claims, winding the Venom GT up to 270.49 mph in just 3.22 miles, besting Bugatti by 0.63 mph.

But even that isn't enough.

As the feat wasn't repeated in the opposite direction, the run isn't officially recognized. According to Top Gear, the boffins at NASA wouldn't allow a return run. And even if they did, Guinness now refuses to class the Venom GT as "production;" to qualify a manufacturer must produce at least 30 identical vehicles for public sale, making Hennessey one short with its planned 29 (to date, 11 Venom GTs have been sold). Guinness has previously recognized the $1 million Venom GT as the fastest production vehicle to 300 kph, allegedly offering an exception to its 30-car rule, something it clearly isn't willing to do now.

Regardless, company owner John Hennessey thinks the Venom GT's real top speed is north of 280 mph; on NASA's strip, the hypercar was still pulling when its test driver Brian Smith had to stand on the brakes to avoid becoming alligator food. The Veyron Super Sport hit 269.86 mph on its downwind leg and 265.96 mph upwind back in 2010, but even that run came under question as the speeds were achieved without the 258 mph restrictor in place, making it technically unlike the car that leaves Bugatti's dealership.

But does it matter? Both cars are wildly different. Hennessey told Yahoo Autos last year it thinks its Venom GT could outrun a McLaren P1 on a track, while Bugatti makes no such claims; the Veyron is ludicrously fast in a straight line, but somewhat cumbersome through the bends due its heavier curb weight and GT-style setup.

Content in breaking the 270-mph barrier, Hennessey has now set its sight on proving the bold statement it made to us, targeting Top Gear's test track in England as the ideal location with the Stig at the wheel. Going fast takes power and engineering, but you can't build a business in hypercars without hype.

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