March 6, 2014
NASA Airstrip Helps John Hennessy’s Venom GT Break A World Record
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Hennessey Venom GT set a record for fastest production car in the world last month at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Hennessey Performance’s Venom GT set the record run of 270.49 miles per hour at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility on Valentine’s Day. The vehicle was equipped with accelerometers and GPS receivers to help it collect precise information and confirm the car’s safety and handling throughout its performance.
Johnny Bohmer of Performance Power LLC in West Palm Beach, Florida played a role in helping Hennessy use the NASA facility. He negotiated a Space Act Agreement with NASA to help evaluate aerodynamic principles on cars using the runway.
"The teams that have come here have all said the same thing: there's no substitute for this," Bohmer said in a statement. "They go to wind tunnels that cost $5,000 an hour. They'll do 10 million laps on simulated computer programs and then they come out here and it's all wrong. This runway is a tool, and it's the right tool."
There are only a few places in the world car manufacturers are able to test out their high-speed vehicles and NASA’s 3.2 mile-long, 300-foot-wide runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility is one of these few places that offers the right environment. NASA said its facility was chosen because of its concrete surface and expanse, which gives drivers confidence they are able to perform their trials safely.
"Validating the Venom GT’s performance, stability and safety on such an incredible runway is why we came here," John Hennessey, owner of the Seeley, Texas-based auto maker, said in a statement. "I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. Neil Armstrong was my childhood hero. Even though the astronaut thing didn’t work out for me, I am humbled to have had the opportunity to conduct our testing on the hallowed grounds of the Kennedy Space Center."
Although a record was set, all cars that come to the test facility have to take in a great amount of engineering data as part of their agreement. The information gathered is expected to help feed into future innovations and improve everyday cars at some point, according to NASA.
Bohmer said there are not many places in the world to safely perform the evaluations needed to give them the confidence to sell their vehicles to the public.
"You can do all the modeling programs you want, you can do all the simulations and computers but you have to go out and hit the real world," Bohmer said. "Now if somebody goes out in the car and wants to push the car, he knows the car will be safe."