Guy Martin: speed freak

Guy and his Gravity Racer at the summit of Mont Ventoux.
TT Champion, record holder and daredevil, Guy Martin, with the gravity-powered ‘soap box’ designed and made for him by epm: technology group and Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sports Engineering Research.

Ruari McCallion tries to keep up with composite manufacturer for F1 and high performance vehicles, epm: technology and its work with Guy Martin.

epm: technology has been supplying composite structures to customers in motorsport, aerospace, automotive, defence and other industries since 1996, but its highest-profile projects, so far, have been two vehicles for Guy Martin, the speed-obsessed motorbike racer and truck mechanic.

Computer simulation was an essential element of the design process for Guy Martin’s record-breaking snow sledge. The analysis of airflow shows the difference the super-light composite shell, made by epm: technology group, made to aerodynamics and drag. Martin set a new downhill record on the sled, beating the previous mark by over 20kph.
Computer simulation was an essential element of the design process. The analysis of airflow shows the difference the super-light composite shell – made by epm: technology group – made to aerodynamics and drag. Guy Martin set a new downhill record on the sled, beating the previous mark by over 20kph.

His ‘Speed with Guy Martin’ series for Channel 4 featured successful – if hair-raising – world record attempts in a snow sledge and a gravity-powered soap box.

“We were approached in 2014 by North One TV with the task of designing and manufacturing a gravity sledge for Channel 4’s Speed with Guy Martin,” said Graham Mulholland, managing director of epm: technology group.

The company partnered with a team from Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research, which was led by Dr Heather Driscoll and including Alice Bullas, Dr John Hart, Terry Senior, Prof Steve Haake and Christina King.

The sled was, in essence, a ski-mounted composite canopy whose function was to reduce drag. “We carefully optimised the sledge for pure speed with the aid of F1 technology. Guy spent three days on site where we took him through the entire process and ensured he played an active role in the design phase.”

The episode centred on an attempt to break the world sledding speed record, at the ski resort of Grandvalira. Martin took a 984 ft (300m) run with a 360 ft (110m) drop – steeper than the main climbing route of Mount Everest.

(L to R: Terry Senior; Christina King;, Dr Heather Driscoll, & Alice Bullas).
The Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sports Engineering Research design team, with Guy Martin. (L to R: Terry Senior; Christina King;, Dr Heather Driscoll, & Alice Bullas).

After a highspeed crash during practice, which destroyed the sled, he smashed the world record, reaching more than 83 mph (134 kph) and beating previous record holder Rolf Allerdissen[s mark by 21 mph.

After their triumph in the Swiss Alps, the same team – epm: technology, Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sports Excellence and Guy Martin – built a ‘soap box’: a gravity powered and fully-enclosed kart. It set a record for gravity-powered vehicles of 85.612 mph on a course down Mont Ventoux, a regular feature of the Tour de France.

When trying for an even faster run, Guy crashed the vehicle and destroyed it. The composite structure protected him from serious injury; he walked away, laughing that it was one of the best days of his life.