Thrust SSC - Supersonic Race Update

Issue 179 Lead Article - 27th September 1997

Congratulations Flood In

by Jeremy Davey, ThrustSSC Webmaster and Satellite Communications Manager

ThrustSSC at record-breaking speeds
(ThrustSSC at record-breaking speeds. Photo: Jeremy Davey. Image taken with a Fujifilm DS-515A Digital Card Camera)

After Thursday's stunning record of 714.144mph (subject to confirmation), the emails and faxes just flooded in. Hundreds and hundreds of congratulatory messages were sent via the Web Site - from people we know, to previously silent readers of Thrust News. Each and every one was touching - from the simple 'Congratulations' to the long accounts of ardent following.

To print them all would take years, but we'd like to relate a few extracts:

"Congratulations to the whole team on this fantastic achievement."

"I genuinely cannot think of any superlatives that can do your achievements justice, just keep on doing what you're doing and you're making a small country very proud!"

"I just wanted to tell you that your nation is well behind you on your attempt at going even faster, and hitting the sound barrier."

"Well done all of you on your new World Land Speed Record."

Many of the emails were coming in even before we could update the Web Site - ITN's News at Ten had just managed to get in an announcement before the end of the programme. The newspapers yesterday were full of the news and inevitably another flood followed. In Gerlach the team took a long lie in, or relaxed in the local hot springs. It was a windy, dusty day anyway, so running was out of the question - but the celebrations had left a few tender heads. Some of you may even have seen the party: Sky TV broadcast live on their breakfast programme - it was nearly midnight here.

We really wish we could reply to all of your messages, but time simply does not allow - please accept our grateful thanks for making the effort and we hope you continue to enjoy our coverage on this site.

The Prime Minister's fax
(The Prime Minister's fax. Photo: Jeremy Davey. Image taken with a Fujifilm DS-515A Digital Card Camera)

The famous wrote in to us too - Damon Hill and Frank Williams have both been in touch. Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote: "I want to add my congratulations to all those in the Thrust team. You did not just break the land speed record, you smashed it. It really was a marvellous achievement. It was a triumph of technology. A triumph in which the entire nation can share and take pride in. Your success personifies Britain at its best. I wish you all the best in your bid to go supersonic and break the sound barrier."

The Queen's fax
(The Queen's fax. Photo: Jeremy Davey. Image taken with a Fujifilm DS-515A Digital Card Camera)

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has faxed Richard from Balmoral Castle: "I am sure that I join Britons everywhere in congratulating you all on your tremendous achievement in setting a new land speed record. Your success, the culmination of six years of effort, is a source of great pride for the nation."

Art Arfons and ThrustSSC
(Art Arfons and ThrustSSC. Photo: Jeremy Davey. Image taken with a Fujifilm DS-515A Digital Card Camera)

We've had another famous visitor today - Art Arfons, one of the all-time heros of the World Land Speed Record, has popped in. Back in the sixties, Art and Craig Breedlove battled it out on Bonneville, taking it in turns to take the record from each other. Art is full of praise for the car and the team's achievement - and has been taking a long hard look at ThrustSSC's engineering.

The Web Site accesses curve
(The Web Site accesses curve)

Today was also the day that we learned we'd achieved another of our goals - yesterday the Web Site recorded 1,138,688 accesses to pass the million for the first time. The demand is so great that we are now moving the News pages to join all the background material on Digital's massively powerful server cluster in Boston - we are sure you will enjoy the benefits that will bring!

So what next for ThrustSSC? The record has never been our primary objective - that is to go supersonic on land. There are many more development runs required to achieve it - we have a couple of days of checks to do on the car, and will resume operations early next week. There is a lot of hard work ahead - but as someone has written in the dust on the side of the car: "We are not doing this because it is easy, but because it is hard." Everyone is getting down to it - this is no time to be sitting on our laurels.

Meanwhile the Spirit of America team are continuing their runs programme, with a test run this morning to check modifications to the steering. They are determined to stay in this race - and we hope to see their peak speeds increasing soon.

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