When McLaren started engineering the F1 in the early 1990s, the company never actually set out to build the world's fastest road car. That didn't stop it from annihilating the Jaguar XJ220's briefly held 217-mph record, though.
The F1 first set a top-speed record in 1993, hitting 231 mph at the Nardo ring in Italy, but McLaren wasn't done. That's why, in 1998, the company recruited Le Mans-winner Andy Wallace to drive an F1 down the in Germany to chase a new top-speed record.
As this new mini-documentary from McLaren shows, the whole endeavor was remarkably casual. The car was transported to the track in a truck that announced McLaren's intentions in a pretty straightforward way.
Wallace, who says now that he was "younger and more stupid in those days," leaped at the opportunity to drive the F1 "really fast." The car used for the record was McLaren's fifth experimental prototype, or XP5 in McLaren speak, which was five years old at the time.
On his first run Wallace hit an indicated 388 km/h (241.1 mph), but he knew the car had a bit more to give. He asked the technicians for more revs, and set out again. With the rev limiter removed, he hit 391 km/h (242.956 mph), and called it a day.
"It will not go any more than 391," said Wallace. "But anyway, 391's quite fast, isn't it?"
Top speed records are averaged between two runs in opposite direction to account for wind, so the McLaren's official top speed record calculated out to 240.1 mph. That record has since been beaten by the Bugatti Veyron and others, but the F1 remains the fastest naturally aspirated production car ever built. It's doubtful any new car will come along to beat it.
Wallace is very nonchalant about the whole thing, but if you had , you probably would be too.
One more McLaren F1 fun fact: During this top speed run, Wallace shifted into sixth gear at 199 mph. As if you needed another reminder that the McLaren F1 is unlike anything else.