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Bloodhound team plans 500mph desert runs for 2018

Joseph Flaig

Andy Green drives the Bloodhound during testing in Newquay (Credit: Tom McCarthy)
Andy Green drives the Bloodhound during testing in Newquay (Credit: Tom McCarthy)

The potential land speed record-breaking Bloodhound car will run in the South African desert for the first time in 2018.

The project announced the plans for next autumn following successful public tests in Cornwall, in October. Driver and current land speed record holder Andy Green will attempt to reach 500mph (800km/h) on the dry lake bed racetrack in Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, up from a previous maximum of just over 200mph (320km/h) in the UK.

The Bloodhound 500 trials will be a key test of the car’s performance and handling ahead of plans to break the current speed record of 763mph (1,228km/h). The team is on track for potential 1,000mph+ (1,600km/h) runs in 2019, a spokesman told Professional Engineering.

The event will be “a key milestone on the route to setting a 1,000mph record,” said Green, who claimed the current record in the Thrust SSC 20 years ago. “Building on everything we learned in Newquay this October, we’ll learn a tremendous amount by going fast on the desert the car was designed to run on.”

Speeds between 400 and 500mph (640-800km/h) will be one of the car’s most “vulnerable” phases, where it transitions from being governed by the interaction of the wheels with the desert surface, to being controlled by the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

Tests will use the car’s Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found in a Eurofighter Typhoon, which produces a peak thrust of 20,000lbs (90kN), equivalent to 54,000 thrust horsepower, or the combined output of 360 family cars.

The car will run for the first time with its solid aluminium wheels, specially designed for the desert surface. Measuring 0.9m in diameter and weighing 95kgs each, they are designed to spin at up to 10,200rpm – more than four times faster than wheels on an F1 car at top speed.

They have a V-shaped keel which digs 25mm into the baked mud surface when the car is stationary. As speeds increase, the wheels will rise up and “plane” on the surface, similar to a speedboat on water. At 500mph (804km/h) and above, just a few millimetres of metal will be in contact with the desert surface and the giant discs will act more like rudders than conventional wheels.

More than 300 members of the local Mier community prepared the 19km desert racetrack. They moved 16,000 tonnes of rock from 22,000,000m2 of dry lake bed by hand.

The team will share data from the 500mph runs with schools around the world, inviting students to analyse the data.

To watch the runs in person, visit

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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