Make or break for Bloodhound LSR

Britain's land speed record attempt is said to be one big investment away from future glory

By Sam Sheehan / Friday, November 13, 2020

A project as financially fragile as Bloodhound LSR was never going to find 2020 easygoing. But now, having endured mothballing in the face of Covid, the project is being revived so that it might finally locate the investment it needs to rocket over the finish line. If the team gets the money it needs, it reckons 2022 might be the year when it finally all comes together. Or it could go the other way. 

“The project is at a stage where it either raises enough funds to carry out the record attempts, or it doesn’t, and will need to close down,” said Ian Warhurst, Bloodhound LSR’s CEO. “There is no middle ground left. There is also a crucial timeline – the project needs to be in a position to continue by having funds in place by early 2021. This will allow the car to be developed further and completed in time for the weather window in July – September 2022.”

As part of this big push, a new TV programme, Building The World’s Fastest Car, is to air in Britain this Saturday at 6pm on Channel 4. It’s due to be shown in other a handful of other countries, too – including Australia, Sweden and Taiwan – but you'd expect it to be the UK where all the heart strings are pulled. Hopefully among those with bottomless pockets. Warhurst said “the project’s next phase will only be done once sufficient funds are held in an escrow account, and we have 100 per cent confidence we are ready to move into the final record-breaking phase”. It really is make or break.

Given the pace of the project, it’s easy to forget how far Bloodhound has come since the early plans were drawn up in 2008. The car’s mechanicals have evolved significantly in that time; notably, the team made a switch from Jag V8-powered fuel pumps to ones driven by electricity. And now, to ensure the car can go from its 628mph test run, achieved on the Kalahari Desert in South Africa last year, a rocket is being developed by Norway’s Nammo. It’ll slot beneath the EJ200 jet engine in a ‘vacant tunnel’, using concentrated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) "passed through a catalyst, decomposes into H2O and oxygen” to generate several thousand tonnes of thrust.

Only when this is completed can the team, including present World Land Speed Record holder, Andy Green, attempt to beat the 763.035 mph held by Green’s former ride, Thrust SSC, from 1997. Getting there will have been an enormous feat, given the challenges and repeated close calls. Succeed and a place in the history books beckons. Fail and Bloodhound goes down as another brave also-ran. Let's hope the right person is watching tomorrow night. 

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