land speed record

Motorsport Flashback: October 1970 – From Delivery Boy to Rocket Man – 238

Forty years ago the Land Speed Record goalposts got moved when a Gary Gabelich cracked the 1000 kilometres per hour mark for the first time – the former delivery van driver ‘rocketing’ into history.

Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats have pretty much been the place to go for land speed records since Malcolm Campbell broke the magic 300mph (482.8kph) mark in September 1935. Earlier that year he’d set the last record to be established on a beach at Florida’s Daytona at 276.71mph or 445.32kph. Within six months he’d got the Rolls-Royce-powered Bluebird up to 301.13mph or 484.62kph, and the case for the Salt Flats was established. Fellow Englishmen took on the challenge – George Eyston’s Thunderbolt cracked 500kph in 1937 – but things really hotted up in late 1938 as Eyston and John Cobb traded records. Eyston nudged it to 345.48mph (556.00kph) in August. On September 15 Cobb’s Railton went 350.19mph or 563.58kph but the following day Eyston averaged 357.49mph or 575.32kph.

In August ’39 Cobb was the title-holder again with 367.91mph (592.09kph). He was back at the Salt Flats in September 1947, and although cracking 400mph for the first time on one run, the average for the flying kilometre was 394.19mph (634.39kph). Read the rest of this entry »

Disappointment for Bluebird Electric LSR team

Since 1924 the Campbell family have used the Pendine sand in Carmarthenshire, Wales as the home for their Bluebird land speed record attempts. It was last weekend that Don Wales – grandson of Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald Campbell –  and his son Joseph returned to the iconic 7-mile stretch of beach in an attempt to add another entry to the history books.

Organising a Land Speed Record attempt is an epic logistical feat before a wheel has even turned. The team has faced countless hurdles in their quest for speed; delayed component parts, cancelled runs and tight budgets. There’s also a very short window of time between low tides at Pendine and the unpredictability of the weather.

Saturday 13th August wasn’t just the 2011 Bluebird Electric’s first time on Pendine, it was only the second time Joe Wales had got behind the wheel of the vehicle. Weather conditions on the day hampered the exploratory runs but provided plenty of valuable experience for the young driver.

A blue sky on Sunday put the Bluebird team in good spirits and Don was keen to give Joe the opportunity to enter the record books himself. Unfortunately, the return leg of a fast outward run was brought to a premature end. Limited visibility within the cockpit of Bluebird and an alarming slide towards the sea at speeds in excess of 100mph caused the car to bounce severely on the uneven surface and hit a soft pothole of sand. The resulting impact damaged the bodyshell, steering components and disconnected a bottom wishbone.  Read the rest of this entry »

Renault 4 Van set for record breaking run at Bonneville

Renault’s first front-wheel drive family vehicle, the iconic 4 celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It was originally introduced in 1961 and had an extreme production run that lasted till 1992. Three decades of production left the Renault4 with a legion of fans and enthusiasts with several events planned for this year to mark the special occasion.

Renault itself is getting involved and is helping a team of four French enthusiasts who are attempting to set a new record during this August’s Bonneville Speed Week. The team will make a play at achieving the title of the fastest Renault4 ever built. Renault’s Classic and Sport divisions are assisting the crew called “Triplets de Bonneville”, to prepare the specially modified Renault 4 using the body and chassis of a panel van version.

Under the bonnet the Bonneville speed racer will pack a 290-horsepower turbocharged engine taken from a Renault 5 Turbo vehicle that competed in the French Touring Car Championship in 1983. The gearbox is taken from a Renault 25 GTX Turbo and the brakes from a Renault Clio.

For safety the Renault4 van is fitted with a roll cage, fire extinguisher, a special harness and single bucket seats. There will also be a braking parachute mounted in the roof. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam car races towards record

Background to the successful record attempt by a British team to beat the 103-year-old steam car land speed record

AMC AMX – Craig Breedove testing – part 2

24-hour test of the AMC AMX in 1968. The aim was to go faster and further than any other vehicle. The driver is Craig Breedlove, then land speed record holder.

AMC AMX – Craig Breedove testing – part 1

24-hour test of the AMC AMX in 1968. The aim was to go faster and further than any other vehicle. The driver is Craig Breedlove, then land speed record holder.

Budweiser rocket car goes supersonic

The pilot of this car managed to hold it steady at the speed of sound with the two back wheels off the ground

Bloodhound SSC 1000mph rocket car

Visualisation of the land speed record challenger Bloodhound SSC, aiming for mach 1.4 (1000mph), plus interviews with the team