Land Speed

What It Takes to Break the Land Speed Record

One of the most admirable accomplishments in the eyes of any automotive enthusiast is the land speed record. Set by Andy Green in 1997 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, the land speed record over one mile is 763.035 mph. Since it was set 18 years ago, one has to wonder if anyone will ever reach upwards of 800 mph and, if possible, how they would do it.

Holding the current land speed record is an impressive achievement! Continue reading to learn about the engine configurations and situational requirements needed to break the world land speed record.

Engine Configurations

In 1997, Green used two Rolls-Royce Spey 202 jet engines to generate 50,000 lbs of thrust to break the record in  his vehicle, the ThrustSSC. Equipped with a turbo fan, Green used a gas turbine engine and a ducted fan that used rearwards acceleration to increase speed, power, and thrust.

The most popular and sought-out way to surpass this top speed is with a rocket-powered engine. One prototype is using three power plants alongside a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, hybrid rockets, and a 550 bhp V8 Jaguar engine as an oxidizer pump. These rocket engines will need to fire off for about 20 seconds to help the vehicle reach its top speed at the 60-second mark. To break the land speed record, this vehicle will need to travel the distance of one mile in about 3.5 to four seconds.

Road and Weather Conditions

Undoubtedly, the weather conditions need to be clear if one is going to attempt to break the land speed record. Any rain would be unfavorable for the vehicle’s tires, as a firm grip is a necessity for high levels of propulsion.

The ground area needs to be straight and flat. Turning even the slightest at such a high speed will be disastrous. The area in which the car will travel needs to be long in order for the vehicle to speed up to reach its maximum speed, but also so that the car has ample time to slow down—somewhere around 20 seconds of deceleration time.

Green broke the land speed record on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada because of its flat surface. In fact, the previous two times that the land speed record was broken, it was done on the surface of the Black Rock Desert. However, the new proposed site that’s considered ideal to set a new record on is the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. But because the vehicle attempting to break the record will be traveling at a speed of around 800 mph, the road needs to be clear of any debris. Even a pebble can alter the vehicle’s path when traveling this fast, so the desert will have to be groomed of roughly 6,600 tons of small pebbles before an attempt can be made.

If you’re interested in learning more about harnessing power and reaching top speeds, you can download Automotive Training Center’s free eBook 7 Maintenance Tips for Preserving Speed and Power in a High-Performance Vehicle.

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