Illustration by Derek BaconCar and driver
From the November 2021 issue Car and driver..
“If you decide to run, I won’t be able to catch you.” The cop puts his tattooed forearm on the windowsill. McLaren 765LT I’m glancing at his chasing vehicle, the unmarked black 2020 Camaro SS. “No, you don’t,” I answer. I’m not cheeky. That’s just a fact. The Camaro is fast, but the McLaren is a 755 horsepower carbon fiber grass dart that is no more than the distance from the accelerator to the floorboard.
But I’m not (yet) in trouble.I’m sitting in a staging lane in south Carolina Darlington DragwayWaiting to try to set a new personal 1/4 mile record. My best 10.9 seconds was long ago the Hennessy Hammer Wagon (700 hp 2nd generation Cadillac CTS-V Wagon) on a Mickey Thompson drag radial. Since then, I’m getting closer, but getting a 10-second quarter requires star alignment, such as humidity, traction, and heat soak management. Or possession of 765LT.
When you propose to take someone’s $ 429,190 car to the dragstrip, you might expect them to rather say you didn’t. McLaren, however, patched me to the UK for tips on narrowing down the fastest path from the 765LT. Dave Steer, a senior press fleet engineer, talked about the optimal settings. Truck mode engine, truck or sports chassis, rear tires aired down to 29 or 30psi. With Launch Control, it will automatically adjust as you continue to run. Keep the rear wings retracted for low drag. “The tires start to reach the optimum grip level at about 110 degrees,” Steer says. Is it possible to hit 10.9 seconds? “Oh, that should be easy,” he says. “We got our customers into the nine.”
Cops point to the tower to ensure that everyone keeps their race on the track and says, “I think they’re ready for you.” I’m pulling to see the ATV towing the atomizer and preparing the lane with the tow compound. I get the first run of the night. Perform a quick rolling burnout to warm the tires. “Do you want a pro tree or regular?” The guy in the line asks. Confidently reply “regular” as if you knew the difference. When the second staging light turns yellow, press the launch control button to mash the brakes and accelerator at the same time. As the time it takes to build the boost, the lights will flash and the brakes will be released.
The rear tire chirps. Crushing acceleration continues. On public roads, the 765LT is a candidate for wheel spin to triple-digit speeds. Throttle is nailed from 50 mph to 100 mph. In the rear-view mirror, you can see the twin stripes drawn behind. But here, with a warm track soaked in traction compound, McLaren simply delves into it. I keep the throttle fixed beyond the finish and check 155mph before stepping on the brakes. Did I enter Nine?
The women there look confused at the booth where they give you a time slip. “It wasn’t printed,” she tells the tower wirelessly. “They said the equipment broke. I think you have to go again!”
On the next run, there will be a long moment when the wheels go off line before the car hooks up. Result: 10.7 seconds at 139 mph. It’s a new (personal) record and a surviving record as the track becomes smoother as the traction compound wears. McLaren begins to blow up the tires at the 8 mile mark, giving a big tail wag at over 100 mph. Just having a living crocodile in your car makes it even more exciting.
The next time you enter your teens, it may be a four-wheel drive EV without a drama. Sure, this would be fun. But running 10.7 is not a hassle. It should be a little scary to experience the gravity of the seat back. It should feel like an achievement. This is always the case with the 765LT. Whether the time slip is printed.
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McLaren 765LT, dragstrip, and dreams
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