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Land Speed Record (not exactly a motorcycle)

    You are going to have to give us a little leeway on this one as the subject matter isn’t entirely motorcycle related albeit there is a very long history of motorcycle streamliners running for the land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats. You can go back to the 1950s with Johnny Allen and the Texas Ceegar, a Triumph powered streamliner that set motorcycle world records and broke the 200mph mark. In the 1960’s there was the Gyronaut X-1 running in the mid 200s and again powered by a Triumph motor. Fast forward to the present and you will find a Suzuki-powered, 20 foot long enclosed streamliner, the Ack Attack, achieving over 375mph and holding the record for motorcycles. That is serious fast but when you add a couple of wheels to your streamliner you can really get some big power going. Unlike motorcycle streamliners where the power is delivered to the rear wheel, the four wheeled streamliners often have the power delivered directly to the atmosphere via a jet engine making them basically planes or rockets with wheels.

    The Bloodhound SSC is a four-wheeled streamliner that is planning on setting the ground speed record at over 1000 mph – it now stands at 763 mph. There are many unusual aspects to this story and one is that this speed run will not be attempted on the Bonneville Salt Flats but on a dry lake bed in South Africa, the Hakskeens Pan. The Hakskeens Pan is an incredibly flat piece of real estate that when not a shallow lake is a hard packed mud surface flatter than a pool table. One of the challenges the team had, and I have learned this over a long series of press releases, were rocks on the surface of the dry lake bed. To remedy this – as hitting even a pebble at 1000 mph isn’t going to be good – the organizers had locals come and clear the desert of 6000 tonnes of rocks spread over 21.5 million square metres. The latest press release states that a time trial shakedown will be held this fall in England followed by a the actual car doing on the lake bed tests in 2016. It obviously isn’t easy to build a 1000 mph streamliner car. The announcement of a “three year project” was made in a press release back in 2008. When will 1000mph happen? Who knows? But it is going to interesting to continue following the effort of one man strapped in a rocket on wheels.


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