Next stop, a new world record. But that's still a year or more away.
We’ve been watching the progress of the Bloodhound LSR team, as we suspect many speed freaks around the world have. The jet-powered machine is essentially a missile with wheels that, in theory, will eventually reach 1,000 mph. That kind of speed on the ground is extraordinary, and not just because it’s crazy dangerous. You’ll struggle to find airborne fighter jets that can reach such speed at low altitude, as the air is much denser closer to sea level than at 40,000 feet. As such, going 1,000 mph while fighting heavy air and drag from wheels on the ground is a straight-up Herculean effort.
That’s why the reborn Bloodhound LSR hasn’t reached 1,000 mph just yet. The team has a very specific testing program to study and evaluate the Bloodhound’s performance as speeds increase, and the high-speed portion of that program recently came to a successful conclusion with a 628-mph blast in the Hakskeenpan salt desert in South Africa. And it didn’t take long for the Eurofighter Typhoon-powered car to get there. In fact, it went from a standstill to max speed in just 50 seconds.
Gallery: Bloodhound LSR Speed Tests
Actually, the car wasn’t supposed to go quite that fast. A brief interview after the run with Bloodhound pilot Andy Green revealed the target was to merely breach the 600-mph barrier, and he was shooting for 605. The Rolls-Royce EJ200 afterburning turbofan engine responds differently to throttle input at higher speeds, so when Green throttled back there was approximately a half-second delay where power stayed full. Not only did it send the Bloodhound to 628 mph, it sent the car an extra kilometer down the course. As far as we can tell, nobody on the team aside from Green seemed to care.
This run concludes the high-speed trials for the Bloodhound LSR, but a record attempt is still many months away. From here, the team will examine all the testing data and make preparations to first break the existing speed record of 763 mph, and then reach towards 1,000 mph. For those runs, a supplemental rocket engine will be required as the big jet engine – despite its 54,000 pounds of thrust – isn’t enough to get the Bloodhound LSR supersonic.
There isn’t a definite timeframe for when the team will attempt to set the world record, but it’s expected to happen in the next 12 to 18 months.