Thrust SSC - Media Zone

Thrustbrief 45 - 15th October 1997

Battle for Mach 1 On Land

On this day the ThrustSSC team achieved the first ever supersonic World Land Speed Record - officially timed by USAC under FIA sanction. The record is subject to FIA confirmation in Paris.

Taking advantage of the cold but windless morning and a 13.5 mile run up Andy Green entered the measured mile going North at 09:09:21.698 and achieved a supersonic pass over the mile at 759.333mph with a Mach no of 1.015. The turnaround was achieved within the mandatory 60 minutes and ThrustSSC entered the mile going South at 10:04:08:090 achieving a return speed of 763.035mph and a Mach no of 1.020.

On each of the two runs clear supersonic booms were heard all over the playa and shook buildings in Gerlach 15 miles away. This is the first ever authoritatively timed supersonic World Land Speed Record and adds to the Team's list of achievements which includes a World Land Speed Record at 714.144 mph on September 25th - and the first ever authoritatively timed supersonic pass at Mach 1.007 on October 13th.

Andy Green and the ThrustSSC have reached or exceeded Mach 1 on four occasions with an additional two passes at Mach 0.996 and Mach 0.98.

Andy Green: "It's been a long hard struggle for all of us since I first read about this project in the papers 3 years ago as a crazy advert for a supersonic car driver. We all knew that we could create the world's first supersonic land speed record, but knowing something can be done and going out and doing it are very different - and today we did it! We have created a world first, a record that will stand for all time, as a tribute to British engineering, the dedication and hard work of a small group and the support of a great many others. In particular I am grateful to the Royal Air Force for allowing me and the other RAF members of the team the chance to take part in this remarkable adventure. As a holiday job, there's nothing else like it in the world!"

The ThrustSSC programme has now been satisfactorily completed in 66 runs, which includes the early trials at Farnborough and Jordan in 1996 and the further Jordan2 programme in May/June this year. 231 companies took part in the project which was financed principally by sponsors Castrol and BTR and the projects own 5,000 person Mach 1 supporters club. The project suffered daunting financial problems during its 6 year existence and still carries a high level of debt which has to be paid off before the programme is concluded.

A key element in the success of the project, was the team's decision to thoroughly research the twin engine rear wheel steer design, which was criticised for its size complexity and flat underside. Aerodynamicist Ron Ayers two years research programme was fully vindicated and Mechanical Designer Glynne Bowshers work provided the spaceframe construction and the 8,500rpm wheels and brakes. The project depended crucially on its Systems Designer Jeremy Bliss who created a 120 channel data system with twin computers and active ride - the latter proving essential for varying the ThrustSSC incidence with Mach No. The car would not have gone supersonic with a fixed suspension.

The engineering team was managed by Nick Dove who ran the workshop often under very difficult desert conditions. Huge efforts were put in by the electronics team and there were very few engine problems due to the diligence of the engine team under Chris Cowell.

The operation of the team on the desert was established by Martyn Davidson and later Adam Northcote-Wright - both of whom brought a high level of expertise to the management and co-ordination of a highly complex desert operation. Jayne Millington's communication skills were key to the success as she juggled up to 5 frequencies simultaneously and the essential desert security operation was run by Paul Remfry.

Key to the marketing of the project was the internet Web Site run by Jeremy Davey which reached a peak of 2.5 million hits or accesses/day. The 1000 page Digital site has reached nearly 40 million hits accessed from every country on the Internet proving once and for all time the huge popularity of the World Land Speed Record.

The sponsorship programme failed to deliver adequate funding for the programme which cost less than 5million over 6 years. The deficit was made up with loans from sponsors, trading with the projects 5,000 person Mach 1 Supporters Club and purchases of fuel and donations from the huge internet following.

Project Director Richard Noble stated: "For the first time in 6 very long years I can sleep easy and take the family on a holiday. The project has achieved every objective we set, other than full funding and it has been an enormous thrill to work with such a dedicated hardworking and talented team. The project disbands at the end of October - and we all have to find other work and careers. Our immediate objective is now to get the debts paid and everyone into work again. I can't speak highly enough of the tremendous skill level and responsibility of the Design and Engineering teams - and Andy Green's total dedication to the driving achieved a truly outstanding result with a difficult and at times marginally stable car.

"We have a World First and the best Land Speed Record of all time."

The ThrustSSC team is due to return to UK on the 25th October.

October 15th Results

North Run

Mile:4.741 secs759.333mph
Kilo:2.956 secs756.742mph
Mach (mile)1.015 provisional

South Run

Mile:4.696 secs766.609mph
Kilo:2.929 secs763.718mph

New World Records (subject to FIA confirmation):

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