LAND SPEED RECORD,
GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND THE CAMPBELLS
lure of speed is an urge that most civilized human beings feel.I know that it has
interested and fascinated
me ever since the day - quite a number of years back now - when,
mounted on a
bicycle, I shot past two terrified old ladies down the steep slope of
Hill in Kent at the rate of twenty seven miles an hour.At least that was the speed estimated by the
constable who gave evidence at Bromley Police Court where I was charged
next day with having driven a bicycle to the danger of the public.I was found guilty by the
bench and fined
the same time I was
given a wigging and a warning, or should I say, words of advice."Malcolm Campbell", the
magistrate thundered, " you have endangered public life and property on
the public highway.You
machine of yours at a totally unnecessary speed.If you come before
us again, we will take a much more
serious view of the matter.We
this will be a lesson to you not to travel so fast in future."This was a lesson I have
that day I have certainly managed to
steer clear for the most part of speeding convictions, even though I
failed to take the magistrate's advice..."
Campbell was born on 1 March 1885, the same year in which both Gottlieb
and Karl Benz built experimental motor cars.Benz was the first to manufacture them for
sale in 1888, in three and four wheel formats with a single cylinder
1.7 litre horizontal
engine at the rear of a tubular frame.A
two speed transmission using belts and chains yielded a maximum speed
It would be
another 19 years before the Great Western Railway's 4-4-0 steam
- seen above at Toddington on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway - would claim the first 100 mph on land on 9 May 1904.
was to say that speed was the only unique experience of the Twentieth
but within that hundred year thrill ride the pursuit of speed on land,
water would often involve both technological contributions from
and one family name : Campbell.
Campbell was the son of a wealthy Hatton Garden diamond merchant, who
with a restless spirit of adventure.Soon after his father had apprenticed him to a firm
of City insurance
brokers, he left to start his own business in partnership with a friend.Initially success proved
elusive but in
typical style Campbell refused to be deterred.When an uncle suggested he provide newspapers with
libel actions the service proved very popular and suddenly the business
The first recognised speed
record was set at 39 mph by French Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat in an
electric car in 1898 while on
1899 Belgian driver and designer Camille Jenatzy (1868-1913), known as
Devil because of his russet beard, became the first man to officially
mph when he reached 65.7 mph at Acheres, France and set a World Land
Record in his electric car "La Jamais Contente" which also sported
novel pneumatic tyres.
On 21 July
1904 meanwhile, a 13 1/2 litre opposed piston Gobron Brillie became the
car to exceed 100 mph with a World Land Speed record of 103.56 mph and
Frenchman Louis Rigolly at the controls.
significant World Land Speed Record was set on 24 January 1905 when
MacDonald drove his 15 litre 190bhp Napier 6 to a speed of 104.65mph.The car was a rebuild of a
6 cylinder L48
racing machine with a wraparound "gas pipe" radiator and Napier were
to power many subsequent World Land Speed Records.The record was also the first to be set at
Daytona Beach, Florida.
unsuccessful attempts to build and fly an aeroplane, Malcolm Campbell
wealth to indulge his passion for high speed cars and boats, frequently
detriment of his social life and obligations.Malcolm was a shrewd judge of character and an
exacting taskmaster, but
such was his personality that he was able to drive his friends and
their limits while still retaining their loyalty - the characteristic
above all others.Having
course of action, Campbell's iron resolve would allow nothing to
from his purpose.For
him the word
impossible simply had no meaning.Throughout his career as a record breaker this was
to stand him in good
stead and became a cause of concern to his numerous rivals.He faced and overcame each
implacable determination, regardless of the cost in time, effort and
his remorseless concentration on the job in hand was undoubtedly one of
exploits as a publicity medium for the motor trading business he had
Malcolm Campbell raced
many cars from 1910 at the
Brooklands circuit at Weybridge, Surrey.
1907, Brooklands was the first banked motor racing track in the World
attracted aviation pioneers such as Alliott Verdon Roe
as well as - in the 1920s - John Godfrey Parry-Thomas, who was assisted in designing cars by
Reid A. Railton.In 1925
the pair's 7.2 litre 8
cylinder Leyland Thomas Special - pictured above - lapped Brooklands at 129.36 mph.
Malcolm Campbell's early Darracq and Peugeot cars - nicknamed "Flapper
and "Flapper 2" after a well-known racehorse - had not been
successful, despite the winning ways of the voiturettes produced by
Sunbeam-Talbot-Darraq from 1921 at the hands of Henry O'Neal de Hane
and Kenelm Lee Guinness.
A day before
a classic race at Brooklands, Malcolm Campbell went to the Whitehall
watch a play by the mystical Belgian poet and playwright Maurice
Maeterlinck - "The
Blue Bird" - based upon the story of the bluebird of happiness always
tantalisingly close yet forever beyond reach.A friend mentioned that The Blue Bird was having " a
Campbell returned home and overnight his Darracq car was painted blue
Campbell - a replica of whose K7 hydroplane is pictured above at the
Lakeland Motor Museum - later said:
was the name given by my father to all his racing craft - Land or
Water; and I
would have no other for my own.She
carries a mascot, a small silver plate with an enamelled Blue Bird,
his craft carried it
- and so shall mine."
an eternal challenge, a variant on Maeterlinck's theme that the
Happiness is by the side of each and everyone of us, always within
if pursued to catch and possess is beyond our grasp."
an article in the February 2003 edition of Marine Modelling magazine, a
approximation of "Bluebird" Saxe blue - a shade between Oxford and Cambridge - is 50% Humbrol Number 48, 35%
Humbrol Number15 and 15% Humbrol Number 14.
first Bluebird flowed a stream of cars that Malcolm Campbell raced with
and distinction at Brooklands and also in continental Grand Prix and
races. In 1923 however Malcolm Campbell began to focus on outright
used all his renowned powers of persuasion to coax Sunbeam's French
Louis Coatalen into selling him the 350 bhp car in which Kenelm Lee
(pictured above) had set the World Land Speed Record of 133.75 mph in 1922.
This silver and black car - now preserved in the National Motor Museum at
Beaulieu - had been built from aluminium in 1920. Powered by an 18.3 litre V-12
on Sunbeam's Arab and Manitou aero engines of the First World War, the
axle was differential-less and had first been driven at Brooklands by
Guinness's 1922 record was the last to be set at Brooklands, and
Campbell's next attempts on the World Land Speed record were made on
Saltburn, North Yorkshire, and at Fanoe in Denmark.In both cases, Campbell was denied
international recognition due to the hand-timing apparatus used.
September 1924 however Malcolm Campbell set a new World Land Speed
146.16 mph at Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire before raising the bar
150.76 mph on 21 July 1925.
and 1935 Malcolm Campbell broke the World Land Speed Record nine times.In doing so he became the
first man to travel
at four miles a minute and at 150, 250 and 300 mph.
On 21 March
1926 Henry Segrave set a new World Land Speed Record of 152.30 mph at
Southport, Lancashire in his 4 litre Sunbeam "Ladybird"
On 28 April
1926 a new World Land Speed Record of 171.01 mph was set by John
Parry-Thomas in his 400 bhp Higham-Thomas Special car "Babs" at
On 4 February
1927 Malcolm Campbell was to better this by 3 mph to 174.88 in his
Campbell Bluebird, also at Pendine.It
turned out to be the last time that the World Land Speed record was to
1927 Parry-Thomas made another attempt at the measured mile.At the end of his run
however the external chain
drives broke, sending Babs into a great shearing skid after which the
engined vehicle rolled over and caught fire.Parry-Thomas was found half out of the car and half
shoes burned away and the top of his head cut off by the flailing
this calamity, Babs' seat was ripped, the instruments smashed and the
car itself buried at Pendine. Forty years later however, Babs was
exhumed by restorer Owen Wyn Owen and despite having suffered from a
highly corroded body has since been put back to running order.
Nowadays Babs is on display at either the
Pendine Museum of Speed or Brooklands Museum.
the 200 mph barrier at 203.79 mph was Henry Segrave on 29 March 1927 at
Beach, Florida, USA.His
red Sunbeam car - pictured above -
designed by Jack S. Irving and nicknamed The Slug, is also preserved in
National Motor Museum at Beaulieu but was built when
short of cash.For
this reason it was
powered by two 2.6 miles to the gallon Sunbeam Matabele aero engines
from a wrecked racing motorboat, one being placed in front of the
the other behind.The
rear unit was
started with compressed air which then turned over the front engine
train of gears.Despite
the white 1 000
horsepower boast on the bonnet, the two 45 litre engines produced less
produced special tyres
capable of withstanding 200 mph for 3 1/2 minutes and chain guards were
after Parry-Thomas's tragic death at Pendine.Other safety devices included a specially thick
under shield and an
inbuilt steel roll bar.The
car was 25
feet wide and eight feet wide.
Born in 1896 to Anglo-Irish parents in America, Segrave always though of himself as
and had served in the First World War both in the trenches and as a
Flying Corps pilot.A
and ascetic, he even chose tap water over Champagne after winning the
French Grand Prix and was one of the first drivers to wear a toughened
record breaking run
Henry Segrave became a salesman for the Portland Cement Company
spare hours building a model railway at his home in Kingston, Surrey,
the allure of the Land Speed record was to call him once again.
February 1928 Malcolm Campbell was at Daytona Beach and his Bluebird
a Napier Sprint Lion aero engine achieved an average of 207 mph.
the World Land Speed Record, also at Florida's Daytona Beach, was Ray
his White Triplex car "Spirit of Elkdom."This had no aerodynamic body but three
Liberty aero engines with a total capacity of 81 litres which powered
American driver to 207.55 mph.
most beautiful and futuristic looking Land Speed Record holder of the
was Golden Arrow, designed by Jack S. Irving and built at the KLG spark
works in Putney Vale, London.The
bodywork was by Thrupp and Maberly and its low lines were ensured by
shafts, one each side of the driver and the nose was shaped around the
W-formation twelve cylinder 24 litre 930 bhp Napier Lion aero engine
competed in the Schneider trophy air races.
between the front and rear wheels housed radiators made by H.H. Martyn
Company of Cheltenham, the ancestor of the Gloster Aircraft Company.These were filled with ice
at the start of a
high speed run only to be turned to boiling water at the end by the
the Napier Lion.
On 11 March
1929 Sir Henry Segrave drove Golden Arrow to a new Word Land Speed
231.44 mph, beating the previous White Triplex record by 25mph.
is preserved in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in its eponymous
paintwork, although to prevent dazzle during the record attempt it was
matt black and had gunsights mounted ahead of the cockpit to help the
maintain direction by focussing on a landmark in the distance.After the record breaking
Golden Arrow was displayed at Sir Alan Cobham's Brockworth Air Day in
was subsequently knighted for his exploits by King George V at Bognor.
than return to his model railway however, Sir Henry Segrave decided to
the World Water Speed Record and on Friday 13 June 1930 his Rolls Royce
Miss England II skimmed across Lake Windermere at an average speed of
99 mph, 6
mph faster than the existing record.But
the temptation of the magic "Ton" was too great and on her last run
of the day the slim white boat suddenly leapt from the lake and crashed
Henry Segrave and one of
his mechanics was killed.Prime
Ramsay McDonald led the nation in mourning and Segrave's ashes were
from the air over the fields of Eton where he had played as a boy.
Daytona Beach on 5 February 1931, Malcolm Campbell set a new World Land
record of 246 mph - four miles a minute - in his Napier Railton
later that year was knighted for his achievements.When
Malcolm Campbell achieved his 272.46 mph record at Daytona Beach in his
Royce Railton Bluebird on 22 February 1933 he was already looking ahead
magic 300 mph mark.Thus
designer Reid Railton retaining the 36.5 litre V12 Rolls Royce R engine
used in the Schneider trophy winning Supermarine floatplanes), which in
supercharged form now gave 2 500 bhp, and the basic chassis frame which
back to the original Campbell-Napier of 1927.However, a new front axle was designed and the rear
end incorporated the
revolutionary concept of twin rear wheels in an effort to improve
minimising the wheel spin Campbell felt was robbing the car of speed on
Daytona's soft sand.
Campbell's 1935 Bluebird car was constructed by Thompson and Taylor
(Brooklands) Limited, weighed nearly 5 tons and some 90% of the
horsepower was required to overcome wind resistance.The normal clutch worked through a crash type
three speed gearbox to the back axle via a double propeller shaft.Wheelbase was 13' 8",
track 5' and
overall length 28' 3".Fuel
Special Esso-Ethyl and Wakefield Patent Castrol oil was used for
Dunlop tyres had a front pressure of 125
pounds per square inch and rear 110 psi.
of note were the crossed British and American flags painted on the
nose of the Lakeland Motor Museum replica pictured above. The
Museum's K7 hydroplane replica - as used in the BBC drama "Across The
Lake" - has two Union Flags while the Bluebird CN7
shown with British and Australian flags as it sets its new
Land Speed Record at Lake Eyre.
September 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell set a new World Land Speed Record
new venue of Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, at 301.129mph - over 5 miles
be Sir Malcolm Campbell's last World Land Speed Record, being broken on
November 1937 by Captain George E.T. Eyston in his car Thunderbolt at
was built at Tipton, Staffordshire, was powered by twin Rolls Royce R
positioned side by side behind the driver and measured 30 feet long.To deliver the combined 4
Thunderbolt had four driving wheels at the back and four unpowered
wheels - under teardrop shaped covers - at the front.Like Golden Arrow
before it, Thunderbolt was painted black for its record attempts after
original polished aluminium dazzled the optical timing apparatus used
its flying mile.
model pictured above - dating from the late 1930s - was the earliest
example of woodwork made by my late father W.G. Drewett and is posed on
a wooden coffer which was his last project before his death in 1987.
Unfortunately Thunderbolt's windscreen has been lost over
but it was this model that first started my interest in the World Land
Speed Record and its holders.
obsession with reaching 300 mph on land satisfied, Sir Malcolm Campbell
to the water speed record like his competitor Sir Henry Segrave before
hydroplane using the Rolls
Royce R engine from his record car he set two new records in 1937 and a
1939 Sir Malcolm Campbell set a new World Water Speed Record of 141.74
Coniston Water in his all-new Bluebird K4, designed by Commander Peter
Bonneville Salt Flats in the summer of 1938 however, a big, shy 39 year
named John Rhodes Cobb had hired Reid Railton and to design him an
tear-drop shaped Railton Mobil Special car powered by a pair of Napier
to challenge Eyston's tail-finned
Thunderbolt - at seven tons the largest and heaviest car ever to take
World Land Speed Record in Utah and twice the weight of Cobb's machine.
On 27 August
1938 Thunderbolt had set up a new World Land Speed Record of 345.20 mph
Cobb, on 15 September, raised to 350.2 mph.Eyston then topped this at 357.9 mph the next day.
Cobb - a
racing driver at Brooklands between the two World Wars - returned to
the summer of 1939 and on 23 August took the World Land Speed Record to
mph as well as taking the 5 and 10 km records off Sir Malcolm Campbell.
George Eyston's Thunderbolt was sent to New Zealand in 1940 to
centenary of the founding of its capital, Wellington and became
due to the outbreak of war.It
stored in a shed at Wellington Airport but after being damaged by fire
apparently dumped in a landfill site at
nearby Wilton which is now covered with playing fields.Ground radar searches in the early 21st
Century returned an echo which is the right shape and size for its
but money has not so far been forthcoming for any recovery attempt.
As might be
expected, no World Land Speed record attempts were made during World
although the global conflict proved a catalyst for new technology that
further accelerate fresh endeavours.
the Railton Mobil Special, designed by Reid Railton and driven by John
which celebrated the State of Utah's centenary with a new World Land
Record at Bonneville Salt Flats, USA of 394.20 mph on 16 September 1947
powered by two Napier Lion piston engines. The Railton Mobil Special is
preserved at Think Tank, Birmingham, having been acquired by Dunlop who
its tyres, and was only eclipsed as a World Land Speed Record car driven by piston engines in 1965.
became the first driver to reach 400 mph, during 1947- 48 Sir Malcolm
Campbell's Bluebird K4, re-engined with a de Havilland Goblin jet
engine from a
Vampire fighter, failed to break the existing World Water Speed Record
this time Sir Malcolm Campbell was 62 years old, in poor health and
died on 31 December
1948 having set nine land and four water speed records and survived
Campbell , later awarded the CBE, had been born on 23 March 1921 and
grew up in
his father's exciting world of speed, together with his sister Jean who
born two years later.
initially worked in the City of London,
then as a travelling salesman, later entering into partnership engaged
manufacture of machine tools. During
World War II he had joined the Royal Air Force but had not been
pilot training as he had wished due to the discovery of a heart
by the effects of rheumatic fever as a child. Donald Campbell later
an interest in powerboat racing and, following the death of Sir Malcolm
Campbell, purchased Bluebird K4 from
In 1945 he
married Daphne Harvey and their daughter Gina was born in 1949.After the couple divorced,
Dorothy McKegg in 1952, divorced her in 1957 and in 1958 married Tonia
following Sir Malcolm Campbell's 1948 death, reports indicated a
challenge to his 1939.Upon
the planned American betterment of his father's record, Donald Campbell
immensely patriotic - embarked upon a 17 year record breaking career
brought success on both land and water.
Bluebird K4 - now fitted again with a Rolls Royce R-Type piston engine
failed to break the World Water Speed Record on Coniston Water while in
IV, designed by Ted Jones and piloted by Seattle car dealer Stanley
a new World Water Speed Record on Lake Washington, USA, at 160.32 mph.Indeed Slo-Mo-Shun IV
reached 178.497mph in
1952 and also won the Harmsworth international motor boat Trophy for
long Ventnor type three
point shovel nosed hydroplane had been launched in 1949 by the Jensen
Boat Company and was powered by an Allison liquid cooled V12 engine
those used by Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft.
the oak and spruce built Slo-Mo-Shun IV was its relatively high power to weight
ratio and its ability to ride at speed on just the rearmost portion of the hull
with only one propeller blade in the water.The resulting "prop ride" was to throw up hundreds
of tons of
water in a spectacular rooster tail.
Campbell and his team converted Bluebird K4 to prop riding and later in
Bluebird K4 to 152 mph before winning the Oltranza Cup race at Lake
Italy, covering four laps of a 5 mile triangular course in 1951. He then made another record
Bluebird K4 on Coniston Water in May 1951.However the craft, travelling at an estimated 160
mph, hit a submerged
log, suffered a structural failure and sank.After salvage, K4 was stripped of useable parts and
the hull burned.
Lakeland Motor Museum replica seen above was created for the Rolls
Royce Centenary display
at the 2004 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
success in the 1951 Oltranza Cup, Donald Campbell considered building a
"prop rider" replacement for Bluebird K4 in order to compete against
the Americans for the Harmsworth Trophy.However, the death of his friend John Cobb in
October 1952 whilst
piloting the jet powered "Crusader"
on Loch Ness, led to the
decision to build a totally new craft.
been designed by Reid Railton and Peter Du Cane and was built by
Portsmouth - famous for their Wartime torpedo boats.Its format was a three point hydroplane with
outriggers at the rear of the craft and thrust came from a De Havilland
gas turbine - an improved version of the Goblin unit that Sir Malcolm Campbell
Crusader project was
also assisted by Castrol Oil, whose competitions manager was none other
George Eyston, who had been awarded the OBE in 1948
September had shown signs of weakness in the front planing shoe which
suggested by strengthened before a record attempt was made.Cobb disagreed, but in
making his first high
speed Crusader hit the wash from a support boat at 240 mph.The vessel then porpoised
across Loch Ness
before the front planing shoe gave way, the nose dipped into the water
injured in the crash, Cobb actually died later from heart failure brought on
together with the Norris brothers - Kenneth and Lewis - prepared
designs for a
completely new jet powered boat - Bluebird K7 - and construction began
mid 1954 at Samlesbury Engineering, Preston, with the sole aim of
bringing the World
Water Speed Record back to Britain.The
mainframe was constructed by Accles and Pollock Limited from high
chrome - molybdenum steel and the hull was made from Birmabright light
was by Gloucestershire based Smiths
riding on a conventional screw propeller, Bluebird K7 was designed to
on its floats as it travelled at speed and maintain just three points
contact with the water totalling just 14 square inches - equivalent to
sixth of a piece of A4 paper. The infinity sign symbolised
the unbounded ambition of its makers.
1955, the £ 25 000 original Bluebird K7 was fitted with a Vickers Beryl
turbojet which had been taken from TG 263, the surviving Saunders Roe
SR A1 jet
flying boat subsequently preserved at the Skyfame
Museum at Staverton.However, at low speeds water spray was sucked
into K7's intakes causing the turbojet to flame out.This was cured by the addition of transparent
intake shields, rear buoyancy reduction and other minor modifications.
Bluebird K7 gave Donald Campbell a World Water Speed Record of 202.32
Ullswater, Cumbria on 23 July 1955, taking the title back from
Later that year Bluebird K7 sank at Lake Mead, Nevada.After being recovered and repaired K7 went on
to a record breaking 216.20 mph on 16 November 1955.
smooth canopy replaced the sharp edged original and the sponsons were
to give more stability.On
Bluebird K7 - thus modified - yielded two runs of 286.78 mph and 164.48
giving a new record average of 225.63 mph.286.78 mph was the fastest single run for this
Bluebird until 1967.In
1958-59 a small tail fin was added to
Bluebird K7 and the air speed indicators originally fitted to the
1956 too, work
began on the £ 1 000 000 four ton 30' long Bristol Proteus gas turbine
Bluebird CN7 ( Campbell-Norris 7) car also designed by Kenneth and
and was built by Motor Panels Ltd of Coventry.
The chassis was built from a light but strong
aeroweb sandwich of light
alloy around resin bonded light alloy honeycomb: the ancestor of the crash
protection used in Formula 1 cars today. Lew Norris ( 20 September 1924 -
13 February 2009 ) also invented the modern automatic car seat belt and the
go-kart and served his apprenticeship with Harland & Wolff at its London
docklands shipyard building landing craft for D-Day.
was the engine used on the "whispering giant" Bristol
airliner and would go on to be used on the SRN4 Mountbatten Class
Proteus used in Bluebird
CN7 was unique in having a drive shaft at both ends to power each axle,
giving it four wheel drive.
Bristol Aero Engines merged with Armstrong Siddeley to form Bristol
which in turn merged with Rolls Royce in 1966. Armstrong Siddeley
been purchased from luxury car and aero engine builder J.D. Siddeley by
Aircraft to form Hawker Siddeley from 1935.
1960 also saw Bluebird CN7's first World Land Speed record attempt in
in a crash, through which Donald Campbell a fractured skull and burst eardrum.Bluebird CN7 - now with a stabilising tail - was then
shipped to Australia and
on 17 July 1964 set a new World Land Speed Record at Lake Eyre, at
subsequent World Land Speed Record attempts after this 400 mph landmark would involve rocket or jet
propulsion rather than a car being driven through its wheels like
fastest ever car with piston engines
driving the wheels was American Bob Summer's Goldenrod, a 32' long
with four V-8 Chrysler engines, which achieved 409.227 mph at
Bonneville on 13
November 1965 and is now preserved at the Henry Ford Museum in
Detroit. However, another car with a gas turbine driving the
not set a record until 2001 when Don Vesco drove his Turbinator powered
Avco Lycoming engine to 458.440 mph at Bonneville.
should also be made at this point of the JCB Dieselmax which, on 22
reached a speed of 328 mph at Bonneville with Squadron Leader Andy
Green at the
powered by a pair of
5 litre engines developed from those used in the famous JCB diggers and
to be the World's highest specific power diesel engines in an
Chairman of JCB, lives at Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire. He received a
Knighthood in 1990 and became Baron Bamford in 2013.
immediately from Donald Campbell's point of view, on 5 September 1963
Breedlove had set a World Land Speed Record of 418.312 mph at
Flats in his jet propelled Spirit of America although this was
recognised by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) as a motor cycle rather than a car due to having three
powered Bluebird CN8 got as far as
the mock up stage but by his time British money was becoming scarce for
October 1964 saw the four wheeled Wingfoot Express designed by Walt
driven by Tom Green, powered by a WH J46 jet engine, set a new World
Record at Bonneville Salt Flats for the USA at 413.10 mph.
half-brother Art Arfons was the first to go faster than 500 mph at
with a World Land Record Speed of 544.134 in his turbojet Green Monster
became the first man to push the World Land Speed Record past 600 mphin his turbojet powered
Spirit of America
Sonic 1 at Bonneville on 15 November 1965 when he reached 600.601 mph
Land Speed Record was to remain American until 4 October 1983 when
Richard Noble drove his Rolls Royce Avon powered Thrust 2 across the
Desert in Nevada at 633.468 mph.Richard
Noble was also behind the Thrust Super Sonic Car project which, with Squadron
Green in the cockpit, set the current World Land Speed Record.
September 1997 Thrust SSC's two Rolls Royce Spey engines powered it
mph to 714.144 mph and on 15 October 1997 the first Supersonic World
Record was recorded with a maximum velocity of 763.43 mph.The suspension for Thrust
SSC, pictured above, was partly
designed by Gloucestershire based Dowty Hydraulics.
Squadron Leader Andy Green is currently set to drive for Richard Noble again at Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa, the site of one of Sir Malcolm
Campbell’s record attempts in 1929 .
The new 44' long World Land Speed Record
car - called Bloodhound SSC - is unique in combining a Eurojet EJ200 engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon
with the first new rocket motor built in Britain for 20 years, itself
capable of making the loudest man-made noise in the World. Combined,
the rocket and gas turbine will produce 135 000 horsepower, equal to 180 Formula
team behind the project hopes to reach 1 050 mph - faster than a speeding bullet
from a Magnum 357 and also beating the low-altitude thick-air speed record for aircraft,
set by a
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter - of 994mph.
In practical terms,
Squadron Leader Green will face 2G of acceleration - the equivalent of 0 to 60
mph in 1.5 seconds - as the gas turbine reaches 350 mph in 40 seconds while a
750 bhp Ford Cosworth Formula 1 piston engine pumps hydrogen peroxide fuel to the 12'
long 18" rocket, the largest of its kind ever designed in Europe and
capable of producing 27 500 lb of thrust – equivalent to about 80 000
horsepower, the combined output of 95 Formula 1 cars. Deceleration however
will be at 3G
- the same
as 60 mph to zero in 1 second or an average car crash - achieved by aircraft
style dive brakes and than parachutes before Bloodhound SSC is turned and
prepared for a second run in the opposite direction. Under FIA rules, the
average speed of the two runs - which must take place less than one hour apart -
will determine the recognised achievement.
The Ministry of Defence is backing the project, and Whitehall chiefs hope
young people will be inspired to get involved in science, technology,
mathematics and engineering. A team of five Royal Electrical and
Mechanical Engineers experts will help build and maintain the car over the next
two years in the UK, and be on hand during the record attempts in South Africa
Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support
and Technology, said nurturing engineering skills in
youngsters is vital to British industry, and the project
is a good opportunity for the Army to share its
experience and skills and "That experience will feed
directly back into the front line as they progress
through their Army careers.”
Carbon Neutral Investments (CNI) has also signed an
exclusive agreement to become the sole environmental
sponsor of the Bloodhound SSC project, rendering it the
world's first carbon neutral land speed record attempt.
Also hoping to break the 1
000 mph barrier in the next few years are Ed Shadle with
his North American Eagle (based on a Lockheed F-104
Starfighter and driven by Dane Per Wimmer), Mark Reed's
Aussie Invader R5 - based on a 30' steel oil pipe, and
the Perth, WA based Silver Bullet RV-1.
Jenatzy passing 60 mph to Andy Green travelling at Mach 1.016 had taken
than a century, but a century in which mankind had nearly destroyed
nuclear weapons and had flown to the Moon, enabling it to look back on
jewel-like oasis Earth set in the infinity of space and realise that
all of us
have to live on one planet together.
65.7 mph of "La Jamais Contente" was soon eclipsed by fossil fuelled
record breakers, electric cars - which can ultimately be fuelled by
or maybe nuclear fusion energy - have more recently been reassessed by
ecological enthusiasts and potential speed seekers.
current World Electric Land Speed Record is held by Roger Schroer driving the
Bullet 2.5 at 307.66 mph at Bonneville on 24 August 2010 compared to the first post
War II holder and fellow American Jerry Kugel who set a World Electric
Speed Record of 138 mph in his Lead Wedge at Bonneville in 1968.
British Electric Land Speed Record was set on Pendine Sands,
on 19 August 2000 at 137.15 mph by Donald Wales, son of Jean Campbell
nephew of Donald Campbell, in Bluebird Electric 2000.Donald Wales was inspired to take up battery
power after his young son Joe developed asthma and said in 1998:
can show that electric cars do not have to be slow and cumbersome, I
made a lasting mark for the health of my child."
2009 Don Wales, sharing driving duties with Charles Burnett III, also set a new World Land Speed Recordfor steam of 148.166 mph at Edwards Air Force
Base, California. The 25' long British Steam Car
- nicknamed "The Fastest Kettle in the World" - smashed the old record of 127
mph set by American Fred Marriott's Stanley steam car in 1906.
Gloucestershire's involvement in
this feat came from Crouch and Hold of Gloucester who provided the team's
uniforms, Quedgeley based Eventageous who looked after the team's publicity and
Spirax Sarco of Cheltenham supplied the British Steam Car's main steam bypass
and throttle valves.
The 3 tonne British Steam Car -
made from carbon fibre composites and aluminium on a steel frame - burned liquid
petroleum gas in 12 boilers to raise 400 degree centigrade superheated steam to
drive its turbine prime mover. As such it consumed a third of its weight
in demineralised water in just 25 minutes, with 50 litres a minute being exposed
to three megawatts of heat and steam entering the turbine at twice the speed of
However, a new British Electric
Land Speed Record of 151 mph was set on 27 September 2012 at Elvington Airfield
near York by 21 year old Nick Ponting at the controls of Nemesis, a
Lotus Exige modified at a cost of £750 000 by the Gloucestershire based founder
of green energy company Ecotricity. "It's the first electric supercar
built in Britain. I'm very proud." said 51 year old Dale Vince, referring
to the Norfolk built Nemesis, which can reach 100 mph from a standing start in
8.5 seconds and can travel 150 miles between charges.
Then, on Friday 8 November 2013, the
FIA Land Speed Records Commission announced the homologation of three new
electric World Land Speed Records by Drayson Racing set between 8 and 10
October 2013, again on the 3 000 metre runway at Elvington.
The team’s prototype
racing car achieve three flying starts of 1
km in 10.802 seconds with an average speed
of 333.271 km/h, 1 mile in 17.549 seconds
with an average speed of 333.271 km/h and a
4 mile stopped start in 9.742 seconds with
an average speed of 148.676 km/h.
On the new record
attempts, Lord Drayson (CEO) commented: “We
are continuing the testing and development
programme of our electric drivetrain
technology and we are delighted with the
results achieved. The engineering challenge
of accelerating a 995kg electric car to
these speeds and then stopping in time on
such a short runway is pretty intense, but
it’s a great proving ground for our
technology. It’s also an exciting way of
demonstrating what’s possible with a state
of the art electric vehicle.”
The new records build
on the Drayson Racing team’s existing
electric land speed record portfolio. The
team is a pioneer of green racing
technologies and was one of the first to
sign up for the FIA Formula E Championship
setting a new World Water Speed Record of 276.33 mph at Lake Dumbleyung
Australia on 31 December 1964 Donald Campbell became the only man ever
held both the World Land and Water Speed Records in one year.
July 1955 and December 1964 Donald Campbell set World Water Speed
Records on 7
different occasions and on the basis of this was made Managing Director
Dowty Marine, which had acquired the manufacturing rights to a New
designed motorboat which was propelled by jets of water rather than a
only travel very quickly but could also operate in very shallow water,
Donald Campbell was to demonstrate on the gravel pit lakes at South
Marine company car was a Cotswold blue Mark II Jaguar with the
new American threat to exceed 300 mph led to Donald and his team
In 1965 a 5 000lb thrust Bristol
Siddeley Orpheus jet
engine - originally designed for a plastic cruise missile - replaced
and less powerful Metro-Vick Beryl and a tail from a Folland Gnat jet
was added to Bluebird hydroplane K7 along with a single tail mounted
consumption on the three point hydroplane was 650 gallons per hour as
in three tons of air per minute.Beam
was 10'6", length 26' 43/4" and the vessel weighed 2 1/2 tons in
Water at 08.55 on 4 January 1967. Donald Campbell was tragically killed
Bluebird K7 soared into the air, somersaulted, crashed and
stopping to refuel after a first run of 297 mph, he had turned and made
back to his starting point, hitting his own wake as he did so.Mr Whoppit, Donald
Campbell's teddy bear
mascot, his helmet and shoes were recovered from Coniston Water at the
Campbell broke the Women's World Water Speed Record at 122.85 mph
on a lake in Nottingham in the Evinrude
Bluebird II power boat before breaking both collar bones in a crash
similar to that which befell her father in 1967.Undeterred, Gina set a new record of 166 mph in New Zealand
in 1990 in a three point hydroplane which she still owns. This was to
until taken by New Zealander Heather Spurle in 1993 although Gina
still claim to have travelled faster on water than either her
Father in a piston-engined vessel.
Interestingly, Londoner Dorothy Levitt became the first woman to set a land
speed record of 91 mph at Blackpool in 1906, and the current title holder is Lee
Breedlove of the USA who reached 308 mph in 1965.
In 1988 BBC
Television screened "Across The Lake", a drama documentary about
Donald Campbell with Anthony Hopkins in the lead role while ten years
later in 1998
Britain's Royal Mail issued a set of postage stamps commemorating wheel
World Land Speed Record cars with Malcolm Campbell's 151 mph Bluebird
on the 20p stamp,Henry
Segraves 152 mph
Sunbeam of 1926 on the 26p, John Parry-Thomas's 171mph Babs of 1926 on
John Cobb's 394 mph Railton Mobil Special of 1947 on the 43p and Donald
Campbell's 403 mph Bluebell CN7 of 1964 on the 63p.
InJune 1995 meanwhile rock
band Marillion released their
album "Afraid of Sunlight" with the track "Out of This
World" inspired by Donald Campbell and his final record attempt.This in turn inspired
inventor and explorer Bill Smith to make a new search of the deeply
floor of Coniston Water in which he found the wreckage of Bluebird K7
there was much debate
within the Campbell family and those close to them about what was
to do next, their decision was to raise the wreck to stop souvenir
the direction of
Bill Smith, Bluebird K7 once again saw daylight on 8 March 2001.
On Monday 28
May 2001 Donald Campbell's remains were also recovered from Coniston
his funeral was later held at St Andrew's Church, Coniston where he is
2002 an inquest returned a
verdict of accidental death.
By late 2007
the chassis of K7 had been stripped down and rebuilt by PDS Engineering
Nelson, Lancashire, allowing the restoration project led by Bill Smith
restore the vehicle to working order to continue.The first rivet of the restored vessel was
closed by Gina Campbell on 2 December 2008 and it is currently hoped to
Bluebird K7 planing across Coniston Water in 2011 before long term
the nearby Ruskin Museum.
98% of the restored K7 will be original due to the engine having acted
sacrificial anode and corroded where other components had not.All parts added to the
completed project were
authentic to the time of building including period radio equipment and
made to a pattern of 1945.
restoration process, it was found that Bluebird K7's water brake had
deployed - evidence that he had struggled to stay in control of his
unstable craft and putting paid to rumours that Donald Campbell had
himself to avoid his creditors.
However, withdrawal of support from
sponsors such as BP - worried not only about the risks of the K7 attempt but
also that public attention was now focussed on the Space Race - added to the
pressures facing Donald Campbell at the time.
before his own death in 2005, designer Ken Norris was able to examine
K7 and reach the conclusion that Donald Campbell's fatal crash was
caused by a
combination of an inherent design flaw in the hydroplane and,
the pilot throttling back the Bristol Siddeley Orpheus engine in an
In his book
"The Bluebird Years - Donald Campbell and the Pursuit of Speed" Ken
Norris explained that the dynamics of K7 when travelling at 300 mph
nose to pitch up only 6 degrees from the surface of the water before it
neither he nor
anyone else in the 1960s realised was that Bluebird's triangular design
that choppy conditions caused the hydroplane to "tramp" - or roll
from side to side in a skewed motion - and this phenomenon caused the
rise by five degrees.The
the nose lifting in these circumstances was the sustained thrust of the
throttled back the gas turbine just before he crashed.Although the lake had been perfectly smooth
for the outward run, the return was made against Bluebird's own wake,
of the water brake used to slow it down towards the fuel boat and a
swell, which itself could have pitched the nose up by one and a half
addition, Bluebird was almost out of fuel
at the moment of the crash, and a full tank might would have added
counter aerodynamic lift.
In July 2008
a pair of "Donald Campbell" name plates from Virgin Super
train 221 135 were presented to K7s prospective new home of the Ruskin Museum
for display there and
another was set to be auctioned to raise money for the restoration
information on the Campbells and World Land and Water Speed Records can