Sunday, October 15, 2017

When ThrustSSC went Supersonic on Land - 20 years Ago



ThrustSSC at the Desert Pits having set the first ever supersonic World Land Speed Record. )Image source: thrustssc.com)
Whale Gollee, where has the time gone, eh?


For Mwah, the most entertaining part 'bout recollectin' ThrustSSC's momentous accomplishment, besides the good natured daily ribbings I endured from a Bloody Brit' Cohort, named John I believe?

As I can vaguely recall his vocal English Colloquialism and wearing glasses a la another Brit named John Lennon; but I digress...

Is not only knowing exactly where I was, but what Hit song was "Top of The Pops!" At least for me, as it was Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue.


As I mostly recall somehow, sometime, somewheres' watchin' video footage of the ThrustSSC's Supersonic Wake being shown via motorized hang gliders showing the Black Rock Desert Sands vortices...


Whilst I also recall that the record for breaking the sound barrier would have Officially occurred on October 14, 1997, exactly 50 years after Chuck Yeager was the first person to accomplish the feat, but...

Although RAF Fighter pilot Squadron Commander Andy Green made two sonic booms that day, the record wasn't official, since due to issues stopping on the first run from a troublesome parachute causing ThrustSSC to overshoot stopping by some 1.5 miles on Nevada's Black Rock Desert!

ThrustSSC required 61 minutes to turn around for the second run and hence broke the rules allowing only 60mins maximum!

But never fear, Andy Green successfully completed a two-way run the following day, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier on land by averaging 763.035mph.


As it's easy to forget how quickly history overlooks Andy Green's first record run of simply breaking the current land speed record, then held by his boss Sir Richard Noble, set 14yrs earlier.  

When Messer Green became the first person to surpass the 700mph mark when he recorded a two-way pass averaging 714.144mph on September 25, 1997... 

Yet what always  has fascinated me most about the ThrustSSC, besides it's momentous accomplishments, is that the ten ton plus rocket vehicle utilized active ride technology.


Although it's funny, since whenever I think of Active Suspension, I immediately think of Team Willy', aka Williams Grand Prix Engineering and those Oh, So Bloody Fast Williams F1 racecars penned by the legendous' Adrian Newey!

As in the Williams FW14B and FW15C that 'Ol Nige', nee Nigel Mansell and "the Professor," aka Alain Prost drove to world championships in 1992-93 consecutively.

Which I suppose is why, whenever I think of ThrustSSC's active ride suspension I Cornfuze Williams with the rival Lotus Formula 1 team the project's engineer came from...


Alas, we should probably give the late Colin Chapman and his iconic Lotus F1 Team the recognition it deserves, since as F1 Fanatic's Keith Collantine points out, it was probably his last technical innovation before his death.

While ironically, Ayrton Senna scored the sport's maiden Grand Prix victory with an active suspension ride racecar, the Lotus 99T, for which Messer Bliss was involved, at the 1987 Detroit Grand Prix...


Whilst Y'all may be interested in strolling thru various ThrustSSC photos...

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