Bloodhound LSR set for high-speed testing

The Bloodhound LSR project is back on track to make an attempt on the Land Speed Record, with high speed testing in South Africa scheduled for October.

Late last year, the project went into administration when cash ran out. The car was due to be cut up and sent for scrap when engineering millionaire Ian Warhurst stepped in to rescue it.

Much of the original team remains in place, including chief engineer Mark Chapman and driver Andy Green. Former RAF pilot Green is the current LSR holder, setting a marker of 760.343mph aboard Thrust SSC in 1997. He remains the only person to have broken the sound barrier in a car on land.

Testing will begin in October at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. The team has said they are treating the test as a full rehersal for the record runs. There will be a particular focus on what happens between 400mph and 500mph, the point at which the car’s wheels stop controlling the direction of travel and the aerodynamic surfaces take over – the car is essentially a ground-level plane. Bloodhound reached 200mph in a series of shakedown runs at Newquay Airport last year.

As originally planned, Green will initially aim to raise the LSR to 800mph before attempting the ultimate 1,000mph goal.

Hakskeen Pan was earmarked as the venue for the record runs early in the project. The team worked with the South African government and local communities to prepare the site. Some 16,500 tons of stones were removed from the ground to create as smooth a surface as possible for Bloodhound to run on. 12 tracks have been cleared, as the car’s aluminium wheels do too much damage to the surface for it to run in its own wheeltracks.

Bloodhound was originally created as an education program as much an LSR attempt and Warhurst is keen to continue its work encouraging children to pursue STEM subjects. The project’s original figurehead, Richard Noble, is still involved with that element of it. Telemetry will be streamed live from the car during its runs, allowing anyone interested to see exactly what’s going on in real time.

For now, Warhurst is paying the bills himself. But he is hoping that the testing runs will encourage potential sponsors to commit money to the project. The aim is for the operation to become a self-sustaining commercial entity.

The record runs are due to take place late in 2020.

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By Graham King

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