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Bugatti Chiron Owners Treated To 248-MPH Drives on Former Space Shuttle Runway

Bugatti rented Kennedy Space Center's runway and treated some of its best customers to an unforgettable experience.

Bugatti is best known for building hypercars that smash through the 400 km/h (248 mph) barrier like a bullet through a Pop Tart. You can’t hit those speeds just anywhere, though, so Bugatti stepped up to help owners touch Vmax for themselves.

Once upon a time, one could conceivably buy the fastest production car in the world and max it out on something like the Autobahn or a track with a long straight. Today, cars like the Bugatti Chiron are so fast that finding somewhere to max them out is a challenge in itself. Thus, the company set up the Bugatti 400 Drive to help 18 select owners actually reach the top speed that its cars are so famous for.

The event took place in April at Kennedy Space Center alongside Bugatti’s own straight-line aerodynamic testing efforts. There, Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility offered a 3-mile runway for owners to max out their vehicles. The extra-long runway formerly served as the Shuttle Landing Facility prior to NASA retiring the Space Shuttle in 2011.

Ahead of the feat, owners were given instructions from a Bugatti Pilote Officiel on how to handle driving in the vicinity of 400 km/h (248 mph). At that speed, the car covers 1.25 football fields every second, while full acceleration in the Chiron sees drivers experience over 1 G. Other challenges involve spotting the braking markers at such a rapid pace, and learning to delicately control the car as it wanders across the tarmac at Mach 0.32.

The Chiron actually comes with a special Top Speed Key, which enables it to attain its maximum velocity. It sets the car up in its lowest-drag configuration, with the ride height lowered and the rear wing retracted. Front axle downforce is also lowered via adjustable flaps ahead of the front wheels.

Launching the vehicle is then as simple as placing the left foot on the brake, with the right foot mashing the accelerator to the floor. Once the brake is released, the Chiron’s launch control will barrel it down the tarmac and on toward the horizon. It takes just 11 seconds to get a Chiron Super Sport to 300 km/h (186 mph), but the march on to top speed takes a while longer.

After cresting the 400 km/h (248 mph) barrier, each driver was given their personalized race suit as a keepsake, along with their helmet, which was inscribed with the top speed attained on the runway. “It’s an intense and exhilarating experience that depends on you and the car being in peak condition and fortunate enough to have the perfect environmental conditions,” said Evan Cygler, Brand Manager of Bugatti Greenwich. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget and that only reinforces my passion for the incredible Bugatti brand.“

The issue with many hypercars is that opportunities are rare to use them as intended. Many manufacturers go to great lengths to enable owners to do so, with track days and other supported activities. Bugatti just happens to build hypercars with a very particular set of skills, and thus tailors its own events to exploit them to the fullest.

For all the Bugatti owners reading this who are desperate to try this for themselves, it might be worth asking your local dealer to hook you up.

Got a tip? Let the author know: lewin@thedrive.com