High-speed testing begins with checking braking systems in South Africa
When last we saw the Bloodhound LSR, the latest British vehicle seeking the land speed record, it was mounted on regular rubber-wrapped wheels in its garage and was being prepared for shipment to South Africa for some high-speed development testing.
At the time, the team revealed that the runs would be done on solid-aluminum disc wheels “specially designed for the desert surface.”
Now that the vehicle is on the Hakskeenpan desert in Northern Cape, South Africa, we can see those wheels, which we’re told are the result of 30 years of research and design, were created by an international consortium and are forged from high-grade aircraft 7037 aluminum alloy.
The wheels have a V-shape keel that digs into the playa when the car is stationary but, as speed builds, the wheels are designed to rise and to plane much the way a speedboat rides on the surface of a lake.
In an interesting announcement, the Bloodhound team announced that as high-speed testing begins, the crucial element is not the speed but the slowing down.
“One of the key objectives of the high-speed testing program is, counterintuitively, to evaluate how the car behaves when slowing down and stopping from a number of target speeds, building up to and beyond 500 mph (800 km/h),” the team announced.
“Only once engineers and driver Andy Green are satisfied they understand the drag and stopping ability of the car will they push to the next run profile, building speed in each run by increments of 50 mph (80 km/h).”
Slowing the car from speed will be accomplished by wheel brakes, one or both drag parachutes and with a large airbrake locked into position, the team added.
Bloodhound LSR currently is powered by an EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine. The car is equipped with nearly 200 pressure sensors feeding data to the engineering team so it can compare real-world performance with computer simulations.
“This data is critical to determine the size of the rocket that will be fitted to the car for the attempt to set a new World Land Speed Record in 12 – 18 months’ time,” the team said.
In early testing in England, the team said, Green opened the throttle for only two seconds, but that was enough to propel the vehicle to 200 mph.
“Here at the Hakskeenpan on a 10-mile track we can accelerate for much longer, achieve higher speeds and investigate the car’s stability, performance and drag, all crucial as we move towards setting a new world land speed record,” said engineering director Mark Chapman.
To create that track, the Northern Cape provincial government and the local Mier community moved 16,500 tons of rock from Hakskeenpan dry lake surface, which appears to be an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats for land speed record runs.
“It’s the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event, and testament to the partnership forged between all three groups,” the team said.
The Northern Cape premier, Zamani Saul, said the team’s presence helps provide development and employment for the community.
“Events such as these have the potential to contribute to much-needed job creation and skills development as well as infrastructure development for the surrounding communities,” he said. “We are therefore grateful for the direct socio‑economic spinoffs of the project and trust that the province will only benefit from the exposure that it is receiving.”