Fun_People Archive
17 Oct
Black Rock Wrap-up -- >Mach 1 on land.

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 97 13:47:16 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Black Rock Wrap-up -- >Mach 1 on land.

Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <>
Forwarded-by: Hurf Sheldon <>
From: Robert Winkelmann <>

Home this evening after nearly a week of sleeping in my van with
temperatures in the twenties. Looking forward to sleeping in my real bed
tonight, but have to bring you up to date before I can relax.

It was a fantastic perfomance by a wonderful team of people, they truly
deserve their success. The whole town of Gerlach, (pop: 350) celebrated with
the team until the wee hours in a sort of rotating pub-crawl between the
town's three saloons.

Andy Green rode his motor bike thru all of them with his lady on the pillion
and someone drove the white line marker thru town, laying the wiggliest line
to their door.  Great Stuff!!!

I parked outside "The Black Rock Saloon", it being the 'tonier' end of town,
and staggered to bed under a brilliant desert full moon.....Magic!

At 7:00 am I had a farewell 'shortstack' in Bruno's Cafe in company with
Dirty Ernie, Piggy Malone, 'Scouser' Eddie, Pete Brock and a few more "Just
black coffe please sufferers, and started home with the addresses of a lot
of new friends.

There will be a further report in a couple of days, maybe tomorrow if I feel
like it, but in the meantime enjoy the last 3 reports from the very
competent Web-Master, Jeremy Davey.

 Forwarded-by:  Thrust News >
Subj:  THRUSTBRIEF 43: Black Rock Desert October 12th 1997.
Chrg:  $0.00   Imp: Norm   Sens: Std    Receipt: No    Part 1 of 1

Robert Winkelmann

Battle for Mach 1 on Land: Daily Project report for Media and Sponsors.

Today the ThrustSSC team had planned to run to Mach1 early morning but the
track inspection showed that the Black Rock Desert had still not dried
adequately at the North end to allow full use of the 13 mile tracks needed
for the supersonic runs.

Runs 61 and 62 are planned for Mach 1.015 and 1.036 which dependant on
ambient temperature could mean ground speeds as high at 780mph.

Despite fine weather and higher temperatures today, the desert under surface
dried well but was judged insufficient for the very high speed runs. At
these high subsonic airspeeds the supersonic airflow under the car
pulverises the desert and the Thrust team are concerned that variations in
the desert consistency could cause directional stability problems.  Driver
Andy Green is happy with the transonic stability, but the Design Team are
reluctant to introduce new variables at this very critical stage.

Fine weather and higher temperatures are expected on Monday- and the Thrust
team plan to attempt the supersonic LSR about midday.

Spirit of America made two runs today to 517mph and 530mph


 Forwarded-by:  Thrust News >
Subj:  THRUSTBRIEF 44: Black Rock Desert October 13th 1997.
Chrg:  $0.00   Imp: Norm   Sens: Std    Receipt: No    Part 1 of 1

Robert Winkelmann

 Battle for Mach 1 on Land: Daily Project report for Media and Sponsors.

The ThrustSSC objective for today was to achieve the first ever supersonic
FIA World Land Speed Record with two independently audited supersonic passes
over the measured mile within the mandatory 60 minute period. The runs were
to be numbers 61 and 62 and the timekeeping is by the United States Auto
Club under FIA approval.

If successful this would achieve a World First in terms of an authoritative
and independently audited supersonic speed.

Previously on Run 59 (7th October) driver Andy Green and ThrustSSC had
peaked at an unofficial speed of Mach 0.98 (98% of the speed of sound).

Run 61 started at the South end of the 13 mile track heading North.  The
car entered the measured mile at 1122'27 and the following speeds were

Kilometre   749.139mph
Mile      749.687mph
Distance*   750.588mph

At the mid point of the track the watching press and television journalists
reported a sonic boom. The USAC Timekeepers announced a Mach No of 0.996
During the turnaround procedure which involves reloading the brake
parachutes, refuelling the car and inspection, it was found that an LVDT
(linear variable displacement transformer) had been damaged.  This was
replaced in situ -- but the time taken lost the opportunity for a new World

By this time ThrustSSC was on the Black Rock desert track and encroaching
into the Spirit of America's allocated slot.  Very generously the SoA team
offered to give up their right in order to allow ThrustSSC a chance at the
supersonic record.

Run 62 was started at the North end running South. During the acceleration
phase the port afterburner failed to light and the afterburner ignition
sequence of both engines had to be recycled losing 0.5 mile in acceleration
distance. The car entered the measured mile at 1403'43 and the following
speeds were achieved:

Kilometre    762.937mph
Mile        764.168mph
Distance   766.198mph
Mach No (mile)    1.007

Witnesses reported clear and distinct booms -- and one of the teams Pegasus
microlight desert surveillance aircraft flying near to the track reported
a supersonic crack like a shotgun and a substantial vertical disturbance as
the aircraft was hit by the shockwave.

During the deceleration phase driver Andy Green reported a double brake
parachute failure, which meant that the car would overrun the end of the
South track. In fact the overrun was only 1 mile -- and working against the
clock, the turnaround team Team 2 managed to recover and reposition the car
ready for the return run. The parachute failure was caused by damage to the
nylon attachment strop due to burning from the cars 40ft afterburner flames.

The profile of Run 63 was identical to Run 62 and despite the delays caused
by the overrun ThrustSSC entered the measured distance at 1504'28 and
achieved the following speeds:

Kilo         761.379mph
Mile        760.135mph
Distance    758.102mph
Mach No (mile)    1.000

Again the shockwaves and sonic booms were reported by witnesses both at the
measured distance and also on the surrounding hills.  Due to time lost in
repositioning the team failed to gain the first true supersonic FIA Land
Speed Record by just 49.479 seconds.

Andy Green commented: 'The Car becomes unstable at around Mach 0.85 as the
airflow starts to go supersonic underneath the vehicle and requires very
rapid, precise steering inputs to keep it on the white guide line.  The Car
becomes slightly more stable above Mach 0.9 and can then be steered fairly
accurately through the measured mile. For the first time to-day, the
shockwaves formed visible moisture on the front of the Car, which could be
seen from the cockpit and which moved back along the body as the Car
accelerated.  The Car then remains reasonably stable as it accelerates
through Mach 1, with the rate of acceleration dropping off as the vehicle
generates the huge shockwaves which cause the sonic boom.  At the end of
the measured mile the power is reduced and the Car slows down at over 20
mph per second; the Car is again unstable at Mach 0.85 (around 600 mph) as
it slows.  The chute is deployed at around 550 mph, quickly reducing the
speed to below 300 mph when the drive is effectively over and I can relax
and enjoy the view before shutting down the engines and using the brakes to
stop next to the recovery crew.'

Operations Manager Adam Northcote-Wright stated: 'You can make a record any
day -- but you can only make history once.'

Following the success of the days two supersonic runs, the ThrustSSC design
team will meet tomorrow (14th) morning to review the data and the results
of the inspection of the ThrustSSC car.  Provided they are confident about
condition performance and risk -- the intention is to run ThrustSSC again
to achieve the first FIA supersonic record possibly within the next 24-48
hours.  The weather conditions are typical of a high pressure system and
the good weather can be expected to continue for the next 2-3 days.


Official Run Data
Run 61
Time: 1122'27
Kilo:    2.986 secs  749.687mph
Mile:   4.802 secs  749.687mph
Dist:   1.816 secs   750.588mph
Mach (mile)    0.996

Run 62

Time 1403'43
Kilo:  2.932 secs   762.937mph
Mile:  4.711 secs   764.168mph
Dist:  1.779 secs   766.198mph
Mach:   1.007

Run 63

Time 1504'28
Kilo:   2.938   761.379mph
Mile:  4.736   760.135mph
Dist:  1.798   758.102mph
Mach   1.000

 Forwarded-by:  Thrust News >
Subj:  THRUSTBRIEF 45: Black Rock Desert October 15th 1997.
Chrg:  $0.00   Imp: Norm   Sens: Std    Receipt: No    Part 1 of 1

Robert Winkelmann

  Battle for Mach 1 on Land: Daily Project report for Media and Sponsors.

On this day the ThrustSSC team achieved the first ever supersonic World Land
Speed Record -- officially timed by USAC under FIA sanction.  The record is
subject to FIA confirmation in Paris.

Taking advantage of the cold but windless morning and a 13.5 mile run up
Andy Green entered the measured mile going North at 09:09:21.698 and
achieved a supersonic pass over the mile at 759.333mph with a Mach no of
1.015.  The turnaround was achieved within the mandatory 60 minutes and
ThrustSSC entered the mile going South at 10:04:08:090 achieving a return
speed of 763.035mph and a Mach no of 1.020.

On each of the two runs clear supersonic booms were heard all over the playa
and shook buildings in Gerlach 15 miles away

This is the first ever authoritatively timed supersonic World Land Speed
Record and adds to the Team's list of achievements which includes a World
Land Speed Record at 714.144 mph on September 25th -- and the first ever
authoritatively timed supersonic pass at Mach 1.007 on October 13th.

Andy Green and the ThrustSSC have reached or exceeded Mach 1 on four
occasions with an additional two passes at Mach 0.996 and Mach 0.98.

It's been a long hard struggle for all of us since I first read about this
project in the papers 3 years ago as a crazy advert for a supersonic car
driver.  We all knew that we could create the world's first supersonic land
speed record, but knowing something can be done and going out and doing it
are very different -- and today we did it!  We have created a world first,
a record that will stand for all time, as a tribute to British engineering,
the dedication and hard work of a small group and the support of a great
many others.  In particular I am grateful to the Royal Air Force for
allowing me and the other RAF members of the team the chance to take part
in this remarkable adventure.  As a holiday job, there's nothing else like
it in the world!

The ThrustSSC programme has now been satisfactorily completed in 66 runs,
which includes the early trials at Farnborough and Jordan in 1996 and the
further Jordan2 programme in May/June this year.  231 companies took part
in the project which was financed principally by sponsors Castrol and BTR
and the project's own 5,000 person Mach 1 supporters club.  The project
suffered daunting financial problems during its 6 year existence and still
carries a high level of debt which has to be paid off before the programme
is concluded.

A key element in the success of the project, was the team's decision to
thoroughly research the twin engine rear wheel steer design, which was
criticised for its size complexity and flat underside.  Aerodynamicist Ron
Ayer's two years research programme was fully vindicated and Mechanical
Designer Glynne Bowsher's work provided the spaceframe construction and the
8,500rpm wheels and brakes.  The project depended crucially on its Systems
Designer Jeremy Bliss who created a 120 channel data system with twin
computers and active ride -- the latter proving essential for varying the
ThrustSSC incidence with Mach No.  The car would not have gone supersonic
with a fixed suspension.

The engineering team was managed by Nick Dove who ran the workshop often
under very difficult desert conditions. Huge efforts were put in by the
electronics team and there were very few engine problems due to the
diligence of the engine team under Chris Cowell.

The operation of the team on the desert was established by Martyn Davidson
and later Adam Northcote-Wright- both of whom brought a high level of
expertise to the management and co-ordination of a highly complex desert
operation.  Jayne Millington's communication skills were key to the success
as she juggled up to 5 frequencies simultaneously and the essential desert
security operation was run by Paul Remfry.

Key to the marketing of the project was the internet web site run by Jeremy
Davey which reached a peak of 2.5 million hits or accesses/day.  The 1000
page Digital site has reached nearly 40 million hits accessed from every
country on the internet proving once and for all time the huge popularity
of the World Land Speed Record.

The sponsorship programme failed to deliver adequate funding for the
programme which cost less than 5 million [pounds] over 6 years. The deficit
was made up with loans from sponsors, trading with the project's 5,000
person Mach 1 Supporters Club and purchases of fuel and donations from the
huge internet following.

Project Director Richard Noble stated: 'For the first time in 6 very long
years I can sleep easy and take the family on a holiday.  The project has
achieved every objective we set, other than full funding and it has been an
enormous thrill to work with such a dedicated hardworking and talented team.
The project disbands at the end of October- and we all have to find other
work and careers.  Our immediate objective is now to get the debts paid and
everyone into work again.  I can't speak highly enough of the tremendous
skill level and responsibility of the Design and Engineering teams- and Andy
Green's total dedication to the driving achieved a truly outstanding result
with a difficult and at times marginally stable car.

We have a World First and the best land speed record of all time.'

The ThrustSSC team is due to return to UK on the 25th October.


October 15th Results.

North Run

	Mile 			4.741 secs			759.333mph
	Kilo			2.956 secs			756.742mph
	Distance						763.623mph
	Mach (mile)		1.015 prov

South Run

	Mile			4.696 secs			766.609mph
	Kilo			2.929secs			763.718mph
	Distance						771.402mph
	Mach (mile)		1.020

New World Records subject to FIA confirmation:

	Mile			763.035mph
	Kilo			760.343mph
	First ever Supersonic World Land Speed Record.

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