January 27, 2014
Hennessey Venom GT Gets Tested At KSC Runway
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) runway in Florida is a 3.5-mile long strip of concrete located at the Space Center. It is not only used for landing the space shuttle, many manufactures, as well as NASCAR and Le Mans, also use the runway for testing their cars.
Recently, Hennessey tested one of the fastest cars manufactured today on the runway, the Hennessey Venom GT. Their goal was to evaluate the handling, aerodynamics, safety and performance of the Venom GT supercar.
The Venom GT is limited to ten vehicles produced per year at a base cost of $600,000 for the 750 hp unit and $1 million for the 1,200 hp unit.
The shuttle’s touchdown speed is about 225 miles per hour. According to the data acquired from several passes down the runway, the Venom GT well exceeded that mark. Until all the data is analyzed, exact numbers won’t be known.
“You can have the smartest engineers and designers, but until you get the car going out there on a runway, you don’t know what the car’s going to do,” said John Hennessey, founder of Hennessey Performance, in a statement.
The owner of Performance Power Racing, Johnny Bohmer, negotiated an agreement in 2011 with the space center to allow evaluations and research at the runway. He then teams up with manufacturers, race teams and other organizations to test their vehicles at the runway. “Almost everything in cars has started in racing. It trickles down and all that stuff is information passed on to other people and everything trickles down into passenger cars. You’ve got to push boundaries to get results.”
There are very few places in the world that have the room to make these kinds of tests safely. “From a safety perspective, you have a lot more room to negotiate if there’s a problem. You feel like this is really the safest place for what we’ve got to do,” Hennessey said.
Requirements for using the facility are legitimate data collection to be used for research and development. “When Performance Power asked if they could do some testing with the Hennessey Venom GT, they said they needed to confirm some of the aerodynamic and suspension performance throughout the entire operating range of this production car and that really helps show that there’s no safety concerns which could lead to a potential recall which can be very expensive to the manufacturers. So that’s really what we approved for the testing activities,” said David Cox, Kennedy’s Partnership Development manager.
The Venom GT was hooked to numerous sensors and electronic devices to measure and evaluate the data. GPS antennas are used to accurately calculate speed and acceleration. They then cross-reference the data with sensors in the shocks to determine aerodynamics and downforce. “The aerodynamics is huge. There’s this balance between down force and stability. We’re trying to balance keeping the car stable and still achieving a speed,” said Hennessey.
Another objective for testing is for safety of the vehicle throughout the performance range. “Now if somebody goes out in the car and wants to push the car, Hennessey knows the car will be safe,” Bohmer said.
“The data logging that he’s doing, a human can’t pick up,” he added. “He has to do this because it’s pretty much mandatory if you’re a manufacturer that you know all the parameters. You can’t sell something and not know what it can do.”
Image Credit: NASA / Kim Shiflet