Setting a vehicular land speed record is no simple task — the current world record holder is the jet-powered Thrust SSC that driver Andy Green took to 763.035 mph. Technically speaking, that record is the outdoor land speed record. About now some might be wondering, “Is there really an indoor land speed record, too?” Yes, there is. And Porsche now holds it.
A Likely Story
Considering that the ongoing pandemic keeps countless people stuck at home, we can’t shake the idea that breaking the indoor speed record was the brainchild of some Porsche engineer with a severe case of cabin fever. The idea likely caught on with similarly sequestered Porsche speed freaks who also thought, “Hey, let’s see how fast we can go — inside a building!” And that’s what they set out to do, resulting in a new world record.
So there really is a Guinness World Record for the fastest speed by a motor vehicle indoors, and according to Porsche that record has stood at 86 mph for the last seven years. There are strict rules for achieving the record: a car must start and finish at a standstill, the entire run has to take place in a building (no run up from outside), no safety net is allowed at the end of the run, and the car doors must remain closed. Basically a precise set of rules that could unwittingly create some underwear-soiling excitement — for both driver and observer.
Fast Car, Fast Driver
To perform the unique task of setting an indoor speed record, Porsche called upon racecar driver Leh Keen and put him in the fully electric Taycan Turbo S. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S is the most powerful model in the German car company’s lineup, producing 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque. Taycan features two electric motors — one at each axle – which also creates an advanced 4-wheel drive system. With that much power and torque, the Taycan Turbo S can reach 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds — the kind of performance needed for an indoor speed record.
“I didn’t really appreciate the scale of the record attempt until my first exploratory run,” said Keen after his record attempt. “The surface is so unpredictable, so slick, that you have to have completely trust in your car. It truly was like ice . . . accelerating flat out, facing a really hard wall at the end. Suddenly, even in a massive space like the one we had, it seems very small,” Keen reflected.
As important as choosing the right car and driver for achieving a speed record, selecting the right venue is equally as important. Ultimately Porsche chose the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. At a hair over one million square feet, the Morial Center claims to be the largest contiguous exhibit hall in the United States.
Although the large space is ideal for breaking indoor speed records, the Morial Center’s polished concrete floor is — as previously noted — slick as ice, which can be a challenge to any vehicle’s speed, stability and braking systems. Still, Keen remained confident the Taycan could handle the task: “I could feel the Taycan’s systems figuring it out, working so hard to keep me heading straight — it was such an impressive feat. To accelerate so hard on such an erratic surface was incredible. Not for a moment did a doubt I could do it,” Keen said.
“What Was I Thinking?”
Keen was able to break the record in one run. “I did take a moment on the starting line — knowing I was going to have to go as fast as I could, and stop again, all before reaching the wall I was facing,” Keen mused. “It got my attention. . . . The sensation of speed indoors, even in such a big space, is enormous [and] that wall rushed up fast. I’m thankful [to] Porsche for trusting my abilities and for their preparations and encouragement — 102 mph inside a building. What was I thinking?” Keen playfully concluded.
And now that one run is in the books — the Guinness World Record books — as the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors. A team of independent adjudicators confirmed the speed at 102.6 mph — set by Leh Keen at the New Orleans Convention Center on November 18, 2020, in a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.