The Royal Automobile Club has awarded the Simms Medal to the British Steam Car Challenge Team who broke the world's oldest land speed record in 2009.
In 1906, Fred Marriott drove a steam powered vehicle built by the Stanley Brothers to an amazing speed of 127.659 MPH. In August 2009 (over 100 years later) the British Steam Car Team smashed the official FIA Fred Marriott land speed record.
The ambitious design of the land speed record challenger envisaged a vehicle powered by a specially designed steam turbine of 380bhp. However, such a turbine on an open cycle, uses a lot of steam and this resulted in a vehicle with no less than 12 specially designed water tube boilers, fuelled by liquid propane. The complexity of this, and of the control systems, was not the subject of a high power engineering effort by a major company, but was handled a core team of just 15 individuals doing most of the work on a farm at Lymington in Hampshire.
The small team persevered and after many trials and tribulations, the car driven by Don Wales and Charles Burnett set a number of new records, including a new Guinness World Land Speed Record for a steam powered car at Edwards Air Force Base in California, with an average speed of 139.843mph for a measured mile, and 148.308 mph over two consecutive runs over a measured kilometer.
Lynne Angel, Team Manager for the British Steam Car Challenge, said: “The team is extremely honored to receive this prestigious award and would like to dedicate it in memory of the former Chief Engineer and Project Manager Frank Swanston for his outstanding contribution to the project”.
The Royal Automobile Club Simms Medal is named after the Club’s founding member Frederick Simms and is awarded to recognise a genuine contribution to motoring innovation by individuals or small companies that also exemplify the spirit of adventure. Previous winners of the Simms Medal include Radical Sportscars, BAR Honda, Simon Saunders, the designer of the Ariel Atom and Bill Gibson, the co-founder and Managing Director of Zytek, for his achievements in the fields of motorsport and electric vehicles.