This is the second proving ground record set by McLaren. At VWs
Wolfsburg test track 0n 31 March 1998 an F1 piloted by race driver Andy Wallace clocked
240.14 mph (386.7 km/h) on the 9km-long straight.
The same car, XP5, was used for the MIRA speed record and is the fifth
(and final) pre-production prototype which was built to production specification and is
finished in British Racing Green.
XP5 is the hardest-worked of all the prototypes. It has clocked up more
than 50,000 miles (80,000 kms), many thousands of those at MIRA. It has been round the
world three times to various shows, exhibitions and events promoting McLarens
All 100 McLaren F1s have been built, sold and delivered. Of the 100
cars, 64 were F1 road cars; five were F1 LM versions (built to commemorate victory at
LeMans in 1995); three were F1 GTs and the remaining 28 were F1 GTR cars built for
customers competing in the FIA GT racing championship and the 24 Heures du Mans.
Driver Peter Taylor is an ex-Jaguar vehicle engineer who now runs Peter
Taylor & Associates his own vehicle test and development company serving the
Peter Taylor was a Jaguar apprentice working for Norman Dewis,
Jaguars legendary chief test driver at the time David Hobbs set the original MIRA
High-Speed Circuit record in the XJ13 in April 1967. Dewis is also credited with having
driven the XJ13 round MIRA at similar speeds to the record which was officially listed in
the Guinness Book of Records.
Unlike the XJ13, which was designed and built specifically to race at
Le Mans and reinstate Jaguars name in the history of the French 24-hour endurance
classic, the F1 is a purpose-designed road car. Indeed, it was driven via the M25 and
other roads to MIRA for the customer option development sessions during which the timed
record runs were staged.
Jaguars plans to return to Le Mans were canned before XJ13 had a
chance to race. It was wheeled out to be filmed at MIRA just before the launch of the
V12-engined E-type in the early 1970s. The footage was to be part of the E-type launch
While being driven rapidly on the High-Speed Circuit it crashed. Driver
Norman Dewis (who is built like a National Hunt jockey) emerged from the badly-damaged car
claiming that his life had been saved by his diminutive stature. He was able to
shrink himself into the cockpit as the car rolled off the banking into the
grass infield. Wheel break-up was blamed for the accident.
XJ13 was mothballed in its damaged state. Body formers for the car were
believed to have been scrapped. However, the formers were later discovered and
Jaguars then boss Lofty England ordered the car to be rebuilt. It has subsequently
revisited MIRA on a number of occasions. Its future is now as a significant part of
Jaguars history and heritage.
The future for McLarens XP5 prototype is, on the other hand,
likely to be continued hard work. The car remains a company promotional vehicle and
development test-bed for customer options. It is maintained in pristine condition and
shows no signs of being pensioned off!
Jack Poyser celebrated his 65th birthday on Monday 21 December 1998,
two days after officially retiring from MIRA. His role as Proving Ground Manager has now
been incorporated into a restructured MIRA position embracing the Proving Ground, Test
Facilities Engineering and a number of related areas. Dr Viv Stephens, previously Manager
of Vehicle Programmes at MIRA, has been appointed to this new position. Dr Stephens,
himself an enthusiastic follower of motorsport and an ACU competition licence holder, was
one of the first to congratulate McLaren and Peter Taylor after the new MIRA High-Speed
Circuit record was set.