July 19, 2014
World Land Speed Record Attempt
Ever since I was a child watching my dad race around the local track in his stock car, power and speed has had a soft spot in my heart. Seeing cars go as fast as they can in a circle was exciting, but as I got older and dad didn’t race anymore, my attention focused on the drag strip. I still enjoyed going to the track and watch the cars go around in a circle, but the thrill of the cars sprinting down the track gave me a different kind of rush.
I would wait in anticipation to see just how quick the cars could run, especially when the jet cars thundered to the line and you could feel the pressure against your chest as they streaked by. Then, when I heard about the land speed record being broken, it got my attention and I have been waiting years for it to be broken again.
Here’s just a little bit of history. The first land speed record was set on December 18, 1898 in France by an electric-powered vehicle at a blistering 57.65 mph. As the years passed, record speeds increased, and on August 5, 1963, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the record was set at 407.447 mph over a one-mile run with a jet-powered vehicle, the “Spirit Of America”.
With the use of jet-powered cars being implemented, each year the speed record increased higher and higher, until the first land speed record I can personally remember was done by the “Blue Flame” on October 23, 1970, at the salt flats with a speed of 622.407 mph.
That record stood until 13 years later when the “Thrust2” broke it with a speed of 633.47 mph. It took another 14 years for that record to go down when Andy Green from the United Kingdom shattered the record with a speed of 763.035 mph in “ThrustSSC” at Black Rock Desert, Nevada. This was the first land vehicle to officially break the sound barrier.
It is now 2014 and the record still holds, but that could change in the near future. A British team lead by Richard Noble, the same team that holds the current record, will attempt to break it in 2016. They not only want to break the record, they believe they can top the 1,000 mph mark.
The car they will be using is called the “Bloodhound SSC,” which is equipped with a jet engine along with a V-8. The vehicle is estimated to have around 130,000 hp, and it could reach a top speed of 1050 mph while turning in a one-second 0-60 mph time.
The car is at least 44 feet long and 6.2 feet wide with a pencil-shaped nose. It has an airplane-like wing on the back for stabilit, that the team says has gone through several modifications to find just the right balance. There are also a couple of fins, one on each side of the nose. These features will help keep the car from going airborne at the speed it is estimated to run.
The frame is built with carbon fiber and titanium, while the body is all titanium for strength and reducing weight, which is 17,165 pounds. The vehicle is strengthened by numerous stringers and a rib cage comprised of machined aluminum. It also has aluminum frames below the rib cage and steel parts and a rear sub frame.
The interior is fighter jet-inspired with a main display over the steering wheel to monitor 25 essential parameters, including speed, rocket power, temperature, lateral G and distance to the end of track. Two other screens display other information. The left screen shows battery voltage, hydraulic and airbrake pressure, brake temperature and GPS ground speed. The right screen shows the auxiliary engine’s rpm and other temperature and pressure indicators. Pedals operate the brake and throttle and two levers operate the parachute. A third lever is the jet engine fuel cut off. The steering wheel is titanium and has seven buttons to operate airbrakes, parachute and even a radio.
The 130,000 plus hp comes from three sources, a EJ200 gas turbine powers it to 300 mph, then a rocket engine kicks in. The third source is a gas-powered V-8 Cosworth Formula One engine with 750 hp. This is an auxiliary power unit to drive the oxidizer pump to supply the fuel to the rocket.
The record breaking attempt date has not been finalized, but expect it to be by the end of 2016.
Image Credit: Siemens NX via TopSpeed.com