Scots behind wheels of land speed record attempt

Andy Green, left, will be driving the 7.5 tonne Bloodhound. Picture: Contributed
Andy Green, left, will be driving the 7.5 tonne Bloodhound. Picture: Contributed
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IT is a cutting edge car designed to break the 1,000 mph speed barrier, capable of making the commute between Glasgow and Edinburgh in less than three minutes at full throttle.

Now, the public are to get their first chance to see a pioneering vehicle that will use high-tech wheels made by a Scottish firm as part of an ambitious attempt to rewrite the record books.

The Bloodhound, a sleek rocket-propelled vehicle which bears a closer resemblance to a fighter jet than a car, is at the forefront of efforts to smash the existing land speed record of 763mph which has stood for 18 years.

The same driver behind the 1997 record, Andy Green, will be at the wheel when the vehicle embarks on a historic speed run in a South African desert. Should he and his team triumph, they intend to return in 2017 with the aim of shattering the fabled 1,000 mph mark.

Five years in the making, the car will be officially unveiled in London later this week. The Scot leading the high-speed charge said he was looking forward to showing the public the “extraordinary engineering” behind the 7.5 tonne car.

A mix of automobile and aircraft technology, a key component in the Bloodhound is its aluminium wheels, produced by Glasgow firm, Castle Precision Engineering.

The company, based in the city’s Castlemilk area, started out in the 1950s making machines for the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank, but now specialises in producing medical equipment and car and aerospace parts.

The wheels for the Bloodhound rotate 177 times a second and can take the vehicle to its top speed in 55 seconds. They will be on show at East Wintergarden in London’s Canary Wharf, where the Bloodhound will be displayed at two free public events on Friday and Saturday.

The land speed racer will be shown in the exact configuration designed to break the world record, including its high-powered Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine and another supercharged Jaguar V8 engine, used to pump oxidiser into the rocket.

Richard Noble, the Edinburgh-born entrepreneur and former holder of the land speed record who is serving 
as the project director of the initiative, said: “Public interest in Bloodhound is incredible and we simply can’t get enough people into our Bristol technical centre to satisfy ­demand.

“We realised too that we have a unique opportunity to show the car before its carbon fibre and titanium skins are fitted in place, so people can see the extraordinary engineering inside.”

Noble, who set a previous land speed record in 1993 after reaching a top speed of 633mph in the Thrust2 vehicle in Nevada, added: “Thanks to the generous support of our partners we are able to bring Bloodhound to London and put it on public display. This is a chance too for us to share our plans for record-breaking in 2016 and announce some exciting new partnerships.”