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The fastest car on the planet: Part one

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


14 July 2022

Like a slumbering dragon, the 13.5-metre long, 7.8-tonne Land Speed Record (LSR) car Bloodhound lies in repose on its slave wheels at the Coventry Transport Museum. Vigorously polished and loved, the red-and-white jet/rocket car is displayed alongside existing LSR record breakers, Thrust 2 (1983, 634mph) and Thrust SSC (1997, 763mph).

There’s an important difference here, though. While Bloodhound scorched across the Kalahari desert in November 2019 reaching 628mph, unlike the two Thrust cars it has diddly squat in the way of records to its name other than hopes, hubris, an ability to swallow money and, some might say, sheer bad luck.

It was conceived on the basis of a chance conversation on the eve of the Lehman Brothers collapse and the subsequent recession caused by greedy investors and reckless bankers. Its development was dogged by unfair criticism that the team was a bunch of fantasists merely returning to beat their own record. It has been wrongly criticised as a gas-guzzling enterprise and sending the wrong message at a time of growing climate change. And it has proved to have all the timing skills of a drunk contestant at an open-mike comedy evening at your local boozer: Covid; the Ukraine war; spiking energy prices; and the itchy feeling that, perhaps, just possibly, the era of speed record breaking is in the past.

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