Bloodhound gang heading for South Africa to test rocket car in desert ahead of world land speed record attempt

A jet-propelled car driven by a Hartlepool-raised pilot aiming to set a new land speed world record is heading for South Africa for a crucial testing stage.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 3:36 pm

The Bloodhound LSR (Land Speed Record) car, piloted by Andy Green, who grew up in Hartlepool in the 1970s, is about to be flown out to South Africa where it is hoped to reach speeds of 500mph in a series of desert trials between mid October and mid November.

Engineers say it will be the project’s biggest test yet with the 300-500mph window described as one of the most vulnerable stages for the car.

The trials will provide the team with a mountain of data to analyse about the car’s handling in the desert, test the car’s radio communications and serve as a full dress rehearsal for the world record attempt in 12-18 months time.

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The Bloodhound LSR car

In October 2017, Andy and the 54,000 horsepower car, powered by a Rolls Royce made jet engine normally found on a Eurofighter Typhoon jet, went from a standing start to 200mph in just eight seconds on Cornwall Airport’s runway.

Now, over 13 runs across 10 miles of perfectly flat Kalahari Desert, the Bloodhound will pushed much harder to get an accurate picture of how it behaves at much higher speeds.

Bloodhound CEO Ian Warhurst said: “We are off to South Africa to start putting the car through its paces. This is engineering at its best and I look forward to everyone joining us online as the action unfolds this autumn.”

Andy Green, who went to what is now High Tunstall College of Science, is the current land speed world record holder having driven at 714mph in America’s Black Rock desert in 1997.

Pilot Andy Green stands beside the Bloodhound 1,000mph supersonic racing car before its first public run at Cornwall Airport, near Newquay. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

In his online diary he said: “We need to learn, step-by-step, how to operate in this high speed arena, before we turn the dial up to supersonic levels for a World Record attempt.

“It will give us tremendous confidence in our supersonic record car.”

Bloodhound LSR Engineering Director Mark Chapman: added: “After many years in preparation, we can’t wait to get out to the Hakskeenpan and let Bloodhound off the leash to see just how it performs.”

Final preparations taking place in England ahead of the car being flown out to South Africa for the next round of speed trials.
Driver Andy Green's helmet.