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Story by Jack Baruth, Photos Courtesty of RENNtech
As the year 2008 approaches, and concerns about war, peak oil, African genocide, endangered species, and militant terrorism are streaming from the lips of every dumb-assed hippie Trustafarian at your local community college, idling his Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee outside a Starbucks while he waits for the four-pack of triple-half-caff-decaf-soy-grande-lattes he promised to bring to the global warming sit-in down at the rec center, one sensational tragedy has fired the imagination and sympathy of the world: it’s so tough to find a million-plus-dollar spec-racer series! I mean, can you, like, totally believe that, until a few days ago, the Ferrari FXX “developmental program” was the only one?
No more. The unspeakably bad-assed car you see above is the McLaren SLR 722 GT – a lighter, faster, meaner, and thoroughly track-focused spec racer for the bond traders who weren’t quite chummy enough with Ferrari to join the FXX program but who find existing spec racers, such as the Spec Racer Ford, to be a little, shall we say, common. Full details, as well as a thorough comparison with the aforementioned SRF, after the jump.
Until today, we never thought the Viper Comp Coupe looked “fem”. Until today.
Those poor folks at McLaren. Not only have they had to watch their F1 World Championship circle the drain while being forced to toss the collective salads of Max Mosley and the FIA just to be permitted to race in 2008, they’ve also had to watch their McMerc SLR supercar struggle in the marketplace while Ferrari “struggles” with three-year wait lists and customers begging to be permitted to pay six-figure sums to bribe their way to the front of the line. It seems the men in red can do no wrong, and their “FXX” program is perhaps the most outrageous example of said no-wrong-doing-ness. In the “FXX” program, the best of the best Ferrari clients were permitted to pay upwards of a million Euros each to “join the Ferrari development team”. As far as we can tell, this “development” consists of taking some pimped-out Enzos around European race tracks once in a while. After the, er, development driving is done for the day, all the wealthy FXX “test drivers” enjoy some Grey Goose and congratulate each other while the Ferrari engineers rush to their computers and print out all the telemetry data from all the awesome test driving that has just taken place. This data is then carefully placed into confidential shredders, and carefully shredded. After it is shredded, the special data is used to line special Ferrari birdcages, where special Ferrari parakeets and budgies crap directly on the data. While this is taking place, Michael Schumacher wanders down to the test track and takes a few laps in his FXX, and the engineers use that data to actually improve the next generation of Ferraris.
Enter the McLaren SLR 722 GT. As the FXX is a “track-focused” evolution of the Enzo, the 722 GT is a track-focused evolution of the McMerc SLR supercar. McLaren being the typically earnest and hardheaded group of fellow that they are, however, the program is rather different from Ferrari’s. Rather than simply let their million-dollar-cars wander aimlessly around some upscale trackdays, McLaren’s going to let their customers race them in a spec series, both in Europe and here in the United States. Will this be a good value for McLaren’s twenty-one luckiest buyers? To find out, we decided to compare the 722 GT to a well-known spec racer here in the United States – the Spec Racer Ford, built by SCCA Enterprises.
As you can see, the McMerc has a tough opponent here.
We’ll start with Construction. The 722 GT is built by McLaren at their world-famous Technology Centre in Woking before being further fettled by the RML Group for competition use. McLaren’s Technology Centre was designed by Lord Foster and contains a windtunnel. The Spec Racer Ford is built by SCCA Enterprises, probably in a shed. Except they don’t build the whole thing – just a kit. You’ll have the privilege of completing the assembly yourself, in your own shed. So far, things are looking like they might go the 722 GT’s way. Next is Power. The 722 GT has over 670 horsepower from a supercharged V-8. The Spec Racer Ford has 105 horsepower from a 1.9L, eight-valve Ford four-cylinder. Wonder where they’re getting those engines? There’s no way Ford still builds ’em. Our guess: they are breaking into nursing-home parking lots and ripping ’em right out of ’81 Escorts. Extra points go to the SLR 722 GT here, because no innocent grandmothers are being victimized by McLaren, except possibly for Fernando’s ma-maw.
Between the giant diffuser and the giant wing, I think they’re serious.
What about Weight? The 722 GT is over six hundred pounds lighter than the street SLR, at 3080 pounds or thereabouts, thanks to an aggressive weight-reduction program. Next to the Spec Racer Ford, though, which weighs only 1,500 pounds, it’s a heavyweight. In the category of Aerodynamics, we are told that the 722 GT benefits from years of wind-tunnel work and Computational Fluid Dynamics work. It has real downforce at racing speeds. The Spec Racer Ford, by contrast, was apparently styled by leaving a bar of soap in the shower of the Rikers prison barge for a week and copying the “design” of what was left.
Last but not least, we have Trackside Support. In the United States, the 722 GT will be maintained by our friends at RENNtech, who will have a crew on-hand at each event to make sure your McMerc starts when you hit the button. With a Spec Racer Ford, on the other hand, you’ll be relying on your fellow racers for help. And guess what? They all hate you!
Every F1 fan knows that when they BACK the car into the pits, there’s still a chance.
The last category is Price. The SLR 722 GT is available from RENNtech for $1.2 Million. The Spec Racer Ford can be purchased, in kit form, for $23,900 – a price advantage of nearly, well, $1.2 Million over the 722 GT. After careful consideration, however, we must advise that if you already have the $23,900 for the SRF, that you put in that extra overtime next month and save up the rest for the SLR 722 GT. It’s easily the most terrifying spec racer in history. If you showed a picture of your 722 GT to some chick at a bar, she would think you were Batman. If you showed a picture of an SRF to a chick at a bar, she would think you were a creepy man who did Soap Box Derbies just to be near the kids.
We’ve included the full press release from RENNtech below. Check it out. If you haven’t decided yet what you’ll be racing next year, and you have the cash, we strongly suggest picking up a 722 GT for yourself. Unfortunately, we already know what we’ll be racing in 2008 – an Improved Touring Neon ACR. We hate you.
Please. Just five laps with this car at a Corvette Club trackday. Five laps. Please.
Officially official: Mercedes-Benz’ SLR McLaren 722 GT, available exclusively at RENNtech.
While Mercedes’ ultra-exclusive SLR McLaren 722 GT track car has been making rounds in the motoring press for several weeks now, a few key questions remained unanswered – including “How much?” and “Where can I get one?”
We can answer the “How much?” question rather easily (795,000 â‚¬, or about 1.2 million USD), it’s the “Where can I get one?” question that’s more interesting.
As of Monday, Dec. 17, 2007, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 GT will be made available to the North American market exclusively through RENNtech, the Florida-based MB tuning house owned and operated by super-tuner Hartmut Feyhl, who also lists “technical director, AMG North America” on his resume. “It’s been a very exciting project to be involved in,” explains Feyhl.
Similar in concept to Ferrari’s Enzo FXX program, the 722 GT is built specifically for track use by renowned British motorsports specialists at the RML Group to be the fastest possible on a track. The SLR 722 GT offers impressive power and cornering and delivers exactly the kind of motorsports experience one would expect from a competition car – and, with only 21 examples of the hyper-exclusive track cars being offered for sale, driving one is sure be a special occasion.
RENNtech will be organizing several on-track events (to be announced) throughout the US, beginning in 2008.
The SLR 722 GT trackcars will be set-up and maintained by RENNtech, which will have specially trained technicians and engineers on hand at each of the planned on-track events, which will follow a format similar to the SLR.Club SAFETY & SPEED ACADEMY track weekends in Europe. Participating customers will receive a mix of on and off-track instruction by trained instructors and professional drivers (including Jochen Mass, David Coulthard, and others), as well as some track time in RENNtech’s Aixro SLR.Karts – to get a good feel for each track before going out in their SLRs.
Feyhl explained that the concept is to deliver to SLR McLaren customers a true and authentic motorsports experience in a competitive and reasonably safe environment.
If it is RENNtech and Mercedes’ goal to deliver “an authentic experience”, the SLR McLaren 722 GT is a great place to start – compared to the road-going SLR, the 722 GT gets the full FIA GT treatment from RML: more than 400 redesigned components, FIA spec. safety equipment, fully adjustable suspension, full-on competition brake hardware, a no-nonsense interior, and a track-only exhaust system that bumps the 722 GT’s output to well over 670 hp. The real game-changers, however, are the 722 GT’s towering rear wing and drastically reduced weight. At 1390 kg, the 722 GT weighs some six-hundred pounds less (!) than the stock 722, and the rear wing (in conjunction with the car’s front splitter) provide more than enough aerodynamic downforce to tackle the fastest turns with confidence.
The 722 GT also benefits from years of wind-tunnel and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) experience at RML and McLaren, making the wings and body mods much more than an aesthetic package. Everything on the car, every vent and louvre, is fully functional – a terrific enhancement to on-track performance.
With more power, less weight, and dramatically improved handling, the limited-edition Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 GT, one thing is certain: if you love cars, love racing, and have the money (but not the time) to campaign a full-on race series, the 722 GT is your ticket.
Contact RENNtech for more.