Bloodhound land speed project is dead

Dream to go 1610km/h in SA comes to an end after funding dries up

10 December 2018 - 07:39 By Motoring Reporter
The jet-powered car was to have attempted the land speed record at SA's Hakskeen Pan in late 2019. Picture: SUPPLIED
The jet-powered car was to have attempted the land speed record at SA's Hakskeen Pan in late 2019. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Bloodhound SSC land speed project, which aimed to set a new 1,000mph (1,610km/h) record in South Africa, is dead.

The long-delayed and cash-strapped project was officially disbanded on Friday after being unable to come up with funding to continue. After being put into bankruptcy protection on October 15, the British-based team was hoping to raise around £25 million (R450m) to continue development of the jet-powered Bloodhound car and attempt a new land speed record at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape’s Kalahari Desert.

However, there was no reprieve and the company’s assets, including the SSC (Super Sonic Car) are being sold off to pay back creditors.

“Since the company entered into administration we have worked tirelessly with the directors to identify a suitable individual or organisation who could take the project forward,” said joint administrator Andrew Sheridan.

“Despite overwhelming public support, and engagement with a wide range of potential and credible investors, it has not been possible to secure a purchaser for the business and assets.”

Andy Green, who was to have driven the car in its attempt, said the car can be bought for about R4.5m and required a team of engineers and millions of dollars to get it running.

Green, a retired British Royal Air Force pilot, holds the existing land speed record which he achieved 1228km/h  in the jet-powered Thrust SSC in October 1997 at the Black Rock Desert in the USA.

The British project has so far been funded by sponsors including Geely, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Rolex, and the British military, which provided a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine for the car.

Driver Andy Green (left) and project leader Richard Noble. Picture: SUPPLIED
Driver Andy Green (left) and project leader Richard Noble. Picture: SUPPLIED

A “low speed” public test of Bloodhound SSC in the UK last year saw the the 13.5m-long, pencil-shaped car hit 338km/h. The team, headed by former land speed record holder Richard Noble who was also behind the Thrust SSC record in 1997, planned to attempt a record run in SA in late 2019.

The Hakskeen Pan track in the Northern Cape was cleared of over 16 000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the surface. The track is 19km long and 500m wide, making for a total surface area of 22 million square metres - the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event.

The supersonic project was first announced in 2008, and was initially scheduled to make its record attempt in 2011 and become the first car to breach the 1000mph barrier, but it was postponed several times due to previous funding issues.

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