Just weeks after a major sponsorship deal was announced with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (parent firm of Volvo Cars and taxi maker LEVC), the Bloodhound SSC supersonic Land Speed Record project has entered administration. The announcement was made on October 15, but the appointment of FRP Advisory as administrators does bring with it a glimmer of hope: they’re the same advisors which managed to secure a stable footing for the similarly cash-strapped Force India F1 team.
Since the project began in 2007, the supposedly 1000mph car, which is powered by three hybrid rockets and a Eurofighter jet engine, has managed to run up to 200mph at Newquay Airport. However, since then the project has struggled to raise the funds necessary for higher speeds. It’s reckoned that to reach 500mph would need another £5m, and to up the game to 800mph another £15m.A massive £25m would be required to reach the ultimate goal of 1000mph.
According to BBC News, the administrators have already begun talks with potential investors, but without a successful outcome the project could be wound up within a matter of weeks. If this does happen, it would be a major blow for British prestige in the world of speed records, since we’ve held the record since Richard Noble took Thrust 2 to 634.051mph, beating Gary Gabelich’s record by just 3.573mph. Since then we’ve seen a big jump to Andy Green’s 713.99mph in Thrust 2 in September 1997, increased the following month to the first supersonic record at 760.343mph. The Thrust vehicles represented a return to form for British record-breakers, with US teams setting the earlier jet-powered records. Prior to that however, the British had dominated the wheel-driven era before 1963. Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird, driven by Rolls-Royce aero engines, upped the record from 246.09mph in 1931 to 301.129mph in 1935. The Napier Lion powering John Cobb’s Railton upper the bar to 350.2mph in 1938 and 394.196 in 1947 before the wheel-driven record was lost to the Americans: Mickey Thompson and then Bob Summers. However, it was Donald Campbell’s Blue Bird CN7 (now in the Beaulieu collection) that had the honour of being the last wheel-driven car to take the absolute record at 403.10mph before the jet-powered age began.