The world’s most advanced straight-line racing car, BLOODHOUND SSC, will be driven for the first time at Cornwall Airport Newquay this October – 20 years after the current land speed record of 763mph was set.
Wing Commander Andy Green steered Thrust SSC to victory on 15 October 1997 and will be at the wheel of Bloodhound SSC as it is put through its paces this autumn.
Runway trials will mark the culmination of a month of tests to prove the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems, and so on, as well as the EJ200 jet engine, sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon.
Thousands of visitors are expected to come and see history being made as Bloodhound SSC is driven at speeds of up to 200mph on the 1.7mile (2.7km) long runway.
Before it moves under its own power, Bloodhound SSC will first undergo several days of static ‘tie-down’ tests. The jet engine will be run up, with the car chained to the ground, so that the performance of its bespoke air intake, fuel and electrical systems can be checked. Everything being well, dynamic testing will then follow.
Of primary interest is the low-speed capability of the jet engine intake, positioned above the cockpit. Designed to work best at speeds exceeding 800mph, the project’s engineers need to understand how it performs at very low speeds.
Knowing how soon full power can be applied minimises this risk while having ‘real world’ acceleration data will enable Ron Ayers, chief aerodynamicist, to plan the sequence of runs in South Africa that – it is hoped – will result in a new record.
The Newquay Trials will also be Andy Green’s first opportunity to drive the car and experience the steering feel, throttle and brake action, noise and vibration – things that can’t be simulated.
It takes a team to run Bloodhound SSC and this will be the first opportunity to train the support crew, as well as develop the car’s operating procedures, prove and refine the safety protocols, and practice radio communications.
During tests the car will powered by the jet engine alone and use wheels shod with pneumatic tyres, 84cm in diameter, from a English Electric Lightning fighter, specially reconditioned by Dunlop.
As the runway wheels and suspension are slightly thicker than the solid aluminium wheels that will be used in the desert, some sections of carbon fibre bodywork will not be fitted.
Project director, Richard Noble explained: “The runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay will be the biggest milestone in the history of the project so far. They will provide important data on the performance of the car and give us a first opportunity to rehearse the procedures we’ll use when we go record breaking.
“Just as importantly, it is a way of saying ‘thank you’, to the schools, students, families and companies, big and small, who support the project. We are proud to be waving a flag for British skills and innovation on a world stage but, most of all, this is about inspiring young people.
“Last year alone we directly engaged with over 100,000 students in the UK and we have already seen more students take up engineering as result of project Bloodhound. With the car running, we can showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the most exciting way possible.”