Challenger 2 is 32ft long, and weighs 5,200lbs. The skin
is comprised of 68 hand-formed aluminum panels.
WHAT YOU SEE
COMPLETING THE QUEST
A record recognized by the Southern
California Timing Association (SCTA), the
national sanctioning body at Bonneville,
requires two runs to be completed within
24 hours. International land speed
records are sanctioned by the FIA. To set
an FIA Land Speed Record, the rules
dictate that two runs, in opposite
directions on the same track, must be
completed within one hour of starting
the first attempt. That presents an
Suffice to say that Challenger 2 is not
the easiest thing to maneuver. When
every second counts, each move must be
completely premeditated and slick.
The clock on the one-hour window starts
ONE HOUR TO MAKE HISTORY
While all this takes place, Thompson will
stay suited and strapped in the cockpit,
which is so small he cannot move his
helmeted head from side-to-side, and he
can only tilt backward or forward by a few
degrees. Under the mid-September sun,
the cockpit temperature is likely to be
around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
To beat the clock, the crew will tow
Challenger 2 away from base camp to the
other side of the salt flats, a journey of 35
minutes. The first run will then aim the car
back toward base camp, where the pit area
is located to prep the car for the second
run. That run will send the car back across
the flats to where it started, hopefully with
a new land speed record to show for it.
It’s not only the measured speed that matters, but also
the window of time in which to complete it.
The second of Challenger 2’s engines sits
behind the cockpit while the other is
forward of it. Twin three-speed gearboxes,
together with a counterbalance output,
link the engine together.
when the car sets off for run one. By the
time that’s completed and the car has
come to a halt, some six minutes have
elapsed. The team will need to keep
another six minutes in hand for the second
run. That leaves only 48 minutes to prep
the car and return it to the start line.
During this time, the crew must
perform a full visual inspection of every
part of the car, and expedite any
necessary repairs. Thirty-two spark plugs
need to be changed, as well as oil from
both engines, and the car needs to be
refueled with 60 gallons of a nitro/
methanol blend. Then the mighty machine
needs to be turned around and pushed to
the start line, ready for run two.
A pair of inline 2,500hp Hemi V8s each power one
set of wheels, with a coupling keeping them in sync.
WHAT YOU DON’T