Bloodhound Land Speed Record project goes up for sale again
The land speed record project seeks a further £8 million investment to see the Bloodhound through to its 800mph attempt next year
The Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project is looking for some fresh investment. Following a tricky financial year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which has brought delays, the team needs a further £8 million to push the car through its 800mph run.
The Bloodhound’s 800mph attempt was originally scheduled to take place in autumn last year, but Covid-19 restrictions have forced the run to be pushed back to 2022. Now, the firm is faced with two difficult decisions – either put the project onto the market or place the car in long-term storage and wait for the pandemic to end.
However, the company isn’t keen on the latter solution, as there’s no guarantee that it will find the funding to restart the project once the world returns to normality. The engineers are also eager to see the project through – especially given that the planned attempt in 2022 will be the Bloodhound’s first crack at the current land speed record of 763mph, which has stood untouched since it was set by Thrust SSC in 1997.
Ian Warhurst, the Bloodhound Project’s current owner, has extended an invitation to potential investors, saying: It has been a privilege to lead this team of world-class engineers over the past two years. I was spellbound – along with a huge audience around the world – as we tested the car up to 600+ mph in South Africa.
“When I committed to take the car high speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts. Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020 which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months.
“At this stage, in absence of further, immediate, funding, the only options remaining are to close down the programme or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project. This gives someone with the right passion and available funding to effectively swoop in at the last minute and take the prize.”
Bloodhound driver Andy Green also said: “The Bloodhound team has built the best Land Speed Record Car ever. It made our 628 mph test run look easy! We’re now raring to get to 800 mph+, to showcase this technical marvel and to invite a global audience to join in an incredibly exciting adventure. After the horrible 2020 pandemic year we have all just experienced, the world needs a good news story – and Bloodhound is ready to deliver it.”
Bloodhound LSR Project: design and development
Bloodhound is powered by an EJ200 jet engine, produced by Rolls Royce. It’s lifted from a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet and generates nine tonnes of thrust – enough to take the Bloodhound to 600mph. A rocket engine will provide the extra punch to allow the car to break the sound barrier and reach 800mph.
The final record attempt will take place on a specially prepared 12-mile long dry lake bed at HakSkeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The team has already completed test runs at 500mph and 628mph on the surface – all the while collecting data about the car’s performance and aerodynamics using 200 sensors located around the Bloodhound.
Early tests in South Africa generated valuable data on how the wheels interact with the lake-bed surface at high speed. The team also learned more about the crucial phase above 300mph when aerodynamic grip generated by the car's body takes over from mechanical grip generated by the wheels as the primary force keeping the car on the ground.
RAF Wing Commander Andy Green, who also piloted Thrust SSC back in 1997, was selected as the Bloodhound’s driver. When the project was still in its early phases, he said: "The car has been designed to do 1,000mph, so we're going to be stepping up through the speed range over the next couple of years."
However, given the company’s current financial troubles, it remains to be seen whether the Bloodhound will reach this goal or simply stop once it has bested Thrust SSC’s top speed.
Bloodhound LSR Project: logistics and modifications
The bulk of the 6.4 tonne Bloodhound Land Speed Record car was transported 5,550 miles from the UK to South Africa via air freight, to ensure it isn’t damaged in transit. Its two metre high tail-fin and sections of its composite bodywork were removed for the journey – and the car’s support equipment made its journey to the Hakskeen Pan by sea.
For testing in South Africa, the Bloodhound’s wheels were changed from conventional alloys and air-filled tyres to solid aluminium discs, which will better cope with the additional forces brought on by the higher speeds and desert environment.
The solid wheels weigh 90kg each and were specially commissioned by Castle Precision Engineering, who ensured they conform to Class G2.5 standards for rotating unbalance – the same as aircraft turbine blades.
Bloodhound LSR Project: Warhurst acquisition
Back in 2019, the Bloodhound project was bought out of administration earlier by the Barnsley-based entrepreneur Ian Warhurst. Speaking at the announcement, Warhurst said: "Since revitalising the project in March, we wanted to be sure we could do this before announcing anything. Our team has been working to get roadblocks out of the way.”
Green commented: "Ian taking over gave us not only a financial kickstart to get things moving, but also restructured the company and reorganised some of the positions to turn it into a much more operationally focused organisation that can run the most advanced prototype straight-line racing car in history.
"It also provided leadership, drive and inspiration to a team of people who six months ago thought everything they've done to get the car ready was about to be chopped up and thrown in the bin. It has been a dramatic turnaround over the last few months.”
Although Warhurst was supporting the project financially, he did offer a range of sponsorship and partnership opportunities, in an effort to keep the team running without running the risk of cash flow difficulties. When Warhust took control of the project, the Bloodhound was also repainted in a plain white livery, offering ample space for advertising.
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