Bloodhound LSR project announces South Africa test runs

Bloodhound LSR project moves ahead under new ownership with test runs set for October in South Africa

The Bloodhound SSC land speed record car will undertake test runs at the specially prepared Hakskeen Pan track in South Africa this autumn, it has been announced.

The reborn project, which was bought out of administration earlier this year by Barnsley-based entrepreneur Ian Warhurst, issued its first update since the takeover to the media on Tuesday.

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October’s test runs are anticipated to take the car to 500mph, with data gathered then being used to prepare for a run at the current land speed record of 763mph (set in 1997 by Thrust SSC) in autumn 2020.

Provided everything runs smoothly, the final planned phase of the project will then see the team aim for the ultimate target of 1,000mph in autumn 2021.

Speaking at the announcement, Warhurst said: “Since revitalising the project in March, we wanted to be sure we could do this before announcing anything. Our team has been working to get roadblocks out of the way.

“We made the final decision that we’re going two weeks ago and we’re booking the accommodation and finalising plans with the shipping companies now.”

Work had already been completed by the local government and community in South Africa to prepare a track for the car before the project stalled, with 16,000 tonnes of stones removed from a 20-kilometre strip of land in the Kalahari Desert over a seven-year period.

RAF Wing Commander Andy Green, driver for the Thrust SSC record run in 1997, is also the driver for the Bloodhound project. “The car has been designed to do 1,000mph, so we’re going to be stepping up through the speed range over the next couple of years,” he said.

“Ian taking over gave us not only a financial kickstart to get things moving, but also restructured the company and reorganised some of the positions to turn it into a much more operationally focused organisation that can run the most advanced prototype straight-line racing car in history.

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“It also provided leadership, drive and inspiration to a team of people who six months ago thought everything they’ve done to get the car ready was about to be chopped up and thrown in the bin. It has been a dramatic turnaround over the last few months.”

The Bloodhound SSC is expected to generate some impressive technical numbers: its aerospace-grade 25kg wheels will rotate at 10,000rpm at full speed, generating a radial force of 50,000g. When Green hits the brakes to slow down, he will experience a force equivalent to going from motorway speed to a dead stop in one second.

October’s testing will generate valuable data on how the wheels interact with the lake-bed surface at high speed, as well as helping the team learn more about the crucial phase above 300mph when aerodynamic grip generated by the car’s body takes over from mechanical grip generated by the wheels as the primary force keeping the car on the ground.

A Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine takes the car up to around 600mph, before a rocket engine gives extra punch to allow it to break the sound barrier and reach 800mph, then eventually the planned 1,000mph. October’s testing will see the car run with only the jet engine, with the rocket being added for the planned 2020 record attempt.

Almost 200 sensors located around the car will record the pressure and forces exerted on various parts of its structure; this data will then be analysed by students at Swansea University. “We have to do this digitally because there’s no such thing as a wind tunnel with a supersonic conveyor belt,” Green explained.

There is a heavy focus on digital access to the project this time around: not only pictures and audio will be streamed from the car, but also a live feed of open-access data.

Although Warhurst is supporting the project financially to ensure it can continue to run and hit its targets without being held up by cashflow difficulties, sponsorship and partnership opportunities are still being offered, with a display model of the car currently finished in a plain white livery.

Are you looking forward to Project Bloodhound’s 1,000mph record attempt? Let us know in the comments section below…

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