Thrust SSC - Media Zone

Thrustbrief 33 - 25th September 1997

Battle for Mach 1 On Land


Subject to recognition by the FIA, Squadron Leader Andy Green today set a new land speed record of 714.144mph driving the twin Rolls Royce Spey engined jet car ThrustSSC on the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA. The speed, the average of two runs in opposite directions over the same measured distance within one hour as required by the rules governing the land speed record, pushed the record over 700mph for the first time and was the biggest increase in the record ever recorded. Team leader Richard Noble whose record of 633.468mph set in 1983 in Thrust2 was superceded by Andy Green, was delighted with the result. "This will be one of the greatest records ever set", said Noble immediately after the USAC timekeepers had confirmed the speeds.

Earlier in the day, things had not looked promising when the planned 10:00am roll out was delayed by 2 hours because of uncertain weather conditions. Winds and light rain showers gave cause for some concern, but after a two hour stand down, the world's press and TV returned to witness this historic event. There was no repeat of the computer and parachute problems of previous days and in two textbook runs, Green rewrote the land speed record history books in fine style. Running south to north on his first run, ThrustSSC set off at 13:30 looking smooth and stable as it accelerated up to the Mach number specified by the Engineering Team. Speeds were 697.950 for the kilo and 700.661 for the mile with SSC coming safely to a stop near the turnaround team.

With the clocks still running, the team reported no problems and had Andy Green ready with almost 10 minutes to spare. The return run was even better with Andy later quoted as saying that the car seems more stable the faster it gets. Spectators, sponsors and press gathered around the PA system waiting for the USAC timers to announce the speeds but because of what they had just witnessed, they were already sure that it would be a record. Times of 730.784 for the kilo and 728.008 for the mile confirmed their thoughts. The average of the two runs lifted both the kilo and mile records for the Thrust Team after years of hard work.

Congratulations were quick to arrive, including those from the Queen and the Prime Minister. Pictures had been beamed around the world with the Digital sponsored Website finally taking over one million hits after getting close the previous day at 974,000. Five times record holder Craig Breedlove who was watching the day's events unfold sent his congratulations via Spirit of America Operations Manager Bill Breedlove who arrived to shake Andy Green's hand and confirm that they will bring their car out tomorrow to test their fuel system modifications. They expect runs of around 400mph with more serious attempts on Andy Green's new record at the weekend if all goes well and the weather holds.

Although they haven't yet completed analysing the data from today's runs, it is likely that Breedlove will have the desert to himself tomorrow while the SSC Team plan more engineering runs to test systems before moving on to higher speeds. Richard Noble said, "This is a fantastic achievement, but it is really only the beginning - we must move speeds up safely towards our ultimate goal - Mach 1."

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