We’ve come a long way from the first official land-speed record - when Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat was aiming to smash 40 miles per hour as the 19th Century started to come to a close.
120 years later, a new UK-based project is on track to hit the 1,000mph mark. If it’s accomplished, it would eclipse the current record by almost 250mph (it currently stands at 763mph, set way back in 1997).
Bloodhound LSR is the name to keep an eye on, as they are the team that intend on cracking the record in 2020.
Powered by a rocket attached to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, it would absolutely annihilate the speed of sound (768mph), becoming the first land-based vehicle to do so, and hopefully hit that 1,000mph mark.
To put it another way, if it kept travelling at the desired speed, you could drive from London to Beijing in roughly eight hours.
Development and construction has been ongoing at the UK Land Speed Record Centre in Berkeley, Gloucestershire.
This November, on the test site in South Africa which they arrived at the previous month, the Bloodhound gang managed to continue to hit 500mph comfortably.
The vehicle has already become one of the top ten fastest cars in history and now brake testing and parachute deployment has been the focal point in the recent exercises, as well as observing damage from acceleration.
At the Hakskeen Pan track in the west of the country, close to Namibia, it will be piloted by the man who set the standard two decades ago, Andy Green.
In the video provided below, Green demonstrated the intricacies, yet relative simplicity, of the cockpit that will hopefully help make him the fastest man alive.
The brief overview informs us that in the compact space there are three screens: right one go fast, left one to go slow. We imagine the middle one is to watch Match of the Day.
Green has also explained how vital the scrutiny of the test surface is. One imagines that when travelling at such great, often untested, speeds, the slightest hiccup could be catastrophic.
“What if we missed some of the 16 million kilograms of stone debris scattered across the surface of the track? While the surface of Hakskeen Pan is the best I have seen anywhere in the world, it was covered in vast quantities of stones and bisected by an old causeway road, which needed removing and grading to an accuracy that no-one had ever attempted before.”
However, it is being attempted not just with a superb design and engineering team, but also with the assistance of a 300-strong team from communities in the track area.
The purpose may be seen by many to be just ‘boys with toys’, but instead Bloodhound LSR have a clear and important vision, “The project is helping to push boundaries and demonstrate pioneering new technologies,” they state.
“Many of the aspects of our land speed record car have required engineers to think in new ways and manufacturers to develop novel production and testing methods.”
So it’s all eyes on South Africa for 2020. Can Bloodhound LSR steer their way into the record books?