Preparations are well underway for a Hartlepool man’s latest world record bid – exactly one year out from the attempt.
Andy Green, who grew up in the town and is the world land speed record-holder, will hope to again break the record in October 2017.
The Bloodhound SSC driver will make the attempt at a specially-created track in Mier, in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
Yesterday, he joined dignitaries including Bloodhound chief engineer Mark Chapman and the Northern Cape government in formally acknowledging the achievements of the Mier Community in preparing the Bloodhound track.
The local community has removed 16,000 tonnes of rock from 22million square metres of dry lake bed, which is the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsports activity.
That means Bloodhound can make an attempt on the world land speed record next year without worring about, for instance, stray pieces of rock wrecking the car and ending the effort.
Hakskeen Pan is as important to the process of setting a record as the engineering in the carAndy Green
The site, at Hakskeen Pan, was the site of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 1929 record attempt (at 350.054km/h), and had been covered with stones before the recent work.
Mr Green said: “Hakskeen Pan is as important to the process of setting a record as the engineering in the car.
“Without this place, without the support of the local community and Northern Cape Government, we would have nowhere to run Bloodhound SSC.
“The car’s wheels are designed specifically for this surface. We have laser mapped the every square metre of it, capturing over 4 billion data points, so we can fine tune the suspension.
“Ron Ayers is designing the run programme based on the length of the prepared area and number of separate tracks we can lay down within it, and so on.
“The track is one of Bloodhound’s key components and clearing an area equivalent to asix lane highway stretching from Hakskeen Pan to Cape Town, an achievement that our friends in the Mier community can be enormously proud of.”
Work had been ongoing since 2007 to find a suitable running site.
Mr Green used satellite imagery and a computer programme created by Swansea University to identify flat areas of earth potentially suitable for a 1600km/h land speed record attempt.
Mr Chapman said: “There are many ways in which Hakskeen Pan influences what we do.
“The track is 19km by 500m, with large safety areas on both sides. This allows us to lay out up to 50 individual tracks side by side.
“This is important as we can’t run over the same piece of ground twice: the car will break up the baked mud surface as it passes.
“We need multiple tracks so we can build speed slowly and safely – going up in 80km/h steps, comparing real world results with theoretical data – and Hakskeen is the perfect place to do this.”