Where so much of motorsport is
about hiding your technology, the
Land Speed Record is able to flaunt
it and inspire a new generation.
WORDS David Tremayne
MAIN IMAGE Bloodhound SSC
ritics suggest that the Land Speed
Record is an anachronism; a 20th
century pursuit that is now out of step
with a modern world whose focus
tends to be more on environmental
awareness and risk averseness that
comes wrapped in a protective cloak
of health and safety legislation.
The vehicle must have four wheels, be
steered through two of them, and they
must remain in contact with the ground.
And the record must be the average of
the times of two runs in opposing
directions through a measured mile or
kilometer within an hour of one another.
Apart from that, literally anything goes,
technically: rocket power; jet power via
one or even two engines; rocket and jet
power combined; movable aerodynamics;
active suspension; solid metal wheels,
rear-wheel steering… Anything.
David Madison/Getty Images
The result is the purest form of
motorized competition remaining,
especially since it’s that most elegant of
them all: an unalloyed contest distilled to
its very essence of distance against time.
And it’s fast. The current record of
763.035mph set by Andy Green in
ThrustSSC on the Black Rock Desert in
Nevada on Oct. 15, 1997, took speeds
beyond the transonic region and through
the so-called sound barrier in an historic
and exhilirating first. [And no, just in
case you’re tempted, don’t be duped
into believing all the hype about the
Budweiser Rocket going supersonic,
because it didn’t. Nor did it play by any