As we all breathed a sigh of relief at the news that the BLOODHOUND Project has been saved, we were once again reminded of its importance. The quest to reach 1,000 mph on a speedometer appeals for several reasons; for motoring enthusiasts it’s the sheer speed, for engineers it’s the thrill of pushing technology to its limits, and for many others it’s the human accomplishment of setting a new land speed world record. But the scope of BLOODHOUND extends beyond even these elements. It also runs a registered charity which aims to inspire a generation of students to explore and get involved in science, technology and mathematics in a bid to inject life into Britain’s waning engineering sector. We look back at the eventful history of the important project and assess what’s next on the horizon.
The development journey of the BLOODHOUND car has been one with many twists and turns:
- On October 28 2008 at the Science Museum in London, Club members Richard Noble and Wing Commander Andrew Duncan Green OBE announced the birth of the BLOODHOUND SCC Project, with an aim of smashing the existing land speed record by hitting speeds of around 1,000 mph in a supersonic car.
- In 2010 a full-scale model of the car was revealed at the Farnborough International Airshow, where it was also announced that production of the car’s rear chassis would commence in the first quarter 2011.
- In October 2017, nearly ten years after its initial announcement and after several struggles with funding, the team was ready to test out its car. On the runway of Newquay Airport, the car was driven from a standing start to 200mph in just 8 seconds. The chosen BLOODHOUND driver is Andrew Duncan Green OBE, a British Royal Air Force fighter pilot and the current World Land Speed Record holder.
- On December 7 2018 it appeared BLOODHOUND had hit another, potentially disastrous, bump on the road after joint administrator Andrew Sheridan announced the project had failed to secure financial backing since entering administration in October. The funds simply weren’t there, and the car was put on the market for the price of a Ferrari. For many it was the end of the line for a project and idea they’d become hugely invested in.
- But the events for the year weren’t over, and in December 17 2018 it was announced that the Project had secured the backing of Yorkshire-based entrepreneur, Ian Warhurst.
Back in February Club members were lucky enough to visit the vehicle at its home in Avonmouth, Bristol. The group gained a unique insight into its aims and objectives, with ambassador Chris Goddard presenting on the technology, design and build of the unique jet and rocket-powered car. Everything has been uniquely created for the BLOODHOUND; even its aluminium wheels are the result of 30 years of research and design and crafted from one of the highest aircraft grade aluminium alloys.
With the green light now back on, the team have cast their eyes back to the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa – a mud and salt pan in the Kalahari Desert and the unlikely setting of the record attempt. The Pan now holds a 12 mile desert racetrack created by 300 local residents who have helped prepare it. Shifting 16,000 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of dry lakebed, it is the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event and is a testimony to the partnership forged between the BLOODHOUND team, the local community and the Northern Cape government.
The BLOODHOUND will come to the Pan in Autumn 2019 for another trial run. Alongside the testing of its performance and handling, the team hope it will reach speeds of 500 mph. The world record attempt planned for 2020 will see the vehicle go from 0 to 1,000 mph in just 42 seconds, and during acceleration it’s estimated Green will be exposed to 2.5g. If successful, the BLOODHOUND SCC will have completed its 12-year journey to a new land speed record.
It’s worth noting that the team behind BLOODHOUND aren’t the only ones chasing the record. Competitor projects continue to grind away in Australia, New Zealand and America, meaning the race for ultimate speed is still very much on.