Traditionally, the battle over the world land speed record has been fought between the United States and the United Kingdom. For the past 21 years, the record has been in the possession of the British thanks to their Thrust SSC super-sonic car and its top speed of 763mph. With America’s supposed-808mph North American Eagle thus far failing to prove its credence, it’s the British who’re expected to break their own record with the Bloodhound SSC, aiming to surpass the indomitable barrier of 1000mph. There is however a challenger to the Bloodhound’s future crown. One that does not originate from Britain or America. In other words, it’s an invader.
The accurately titled Aussie Invader 5R is trying to upset the British juggernaut - with a target speed equalling the almost impossible 1000mph of the Bloodhound. While it would be very easy to dismiss such ambitions as pie in the sky, the man entrusted with captaining this car to its goal has a bit of experience in the arena of land speed records. His name is Rosco McGlashan, and aside from being something of a drag racing legend down under, he’s also been involved in chasing the land speed record ever since he dreamt of being the fastest man on Earth in his early years.
Inspired by Donald Campbell in 1963, Rosco began work on his first land speed record car in 1983. It took him 10 years to complete, but his Aussie Invader II car showed great promise. In 1994, Rosco became the fastest Australian in history, achieving an average of over 500mph during 2 runs. The car had more to give though, but the price for exploring its limits was great. During a future test, Aussie Invader II crashed with Rosco on board doing 580mph. He lived, but the car quite obviously didn’t. Not wanting to waste any time, him and his team got straight to work on creating Aussie Invader III.
In 1996, Rosco piloted his new car to an incredible speed of 643mph - 9 mph faster than the land speed record at the time, held by Richard Noble in Thrust 2. Due to bad weather however, Rosco couldn’t make the 2 runs required to officially register the record. His dream of becoming the fastest man on Earth would have to wait - at least, in an official capacity - for another day.
Rosco was hoping to use Aussie Invader III to break the sound barrier - but Andy Green beat him to that landmark with Thrust SSC. In my view, that implies he has a score to settle with the British.
The Aussie Invader 5R is how he plans to settle this score by beating the Bloodhound to its 1000mph goal. Unlike the Bloodhound however, which uses a combination of Supercharged Jaguar V8, Eurofighter Typhoon jet, and a small but powerful hybrid rocket engine, the Invader is essentially just a nuke on wheels.
Original plans of the 5R show it using 4 small rockets - but now, the plan is to use a single larger unit. While it may be more primitive than the Bloodhound, sophistication isn’t necessarily a requirement in the pursuit of raw, unrestrained power. Comparatively, while the Bloodhound’s jet and rocket combine to create a power output of around 135,000 horsepower, the Invader’s single rocket engine produces around 200,000 horsepower!
If hearing that makes you giggle in disbelief, that when I’m about to say next will make you crease into a ball of laughter. While the Bloodhound is projected to reach its 1000mph target in 55 seconds, the Invader is said to take just 20 seconds to reach the same speed. To clarify, that’s 0-1000mph in 20 seconds. Please excuse me a moment while I put the pieces of my brain back together.
The car itself is said to weigh 9 tonnes; although whether or not that’s a dry weight is unconfirmed. During its 20 second run up to 1000mph, and the following measured mile it’s required to complete in order to verify its speed, the Invader will burn 3 tonnes of fuel - which equates to an average consumption of roughly 30 feet-per-gallon. Once it’s completed the measured mile, the Invader will then require 8 miles in order to stop, using a sequence of air brakes, high and low speed parachutes, and eventually high performance disc brakes. The car itself is 52 feet long - the majority of which accommodates a fuel tank. Each wheel is machined from a solid billet of aluminium, and weigh 308lbs (140kg) each - meaning that just the wheels alone weigh more than an Ariel Atom. At 1000mph, they’ll be spinning at over 10,000rpm, and at their edge, will be experiencing around 50,000 G. You can pick your jaw up now.
Will Rosco become the first man to achieve 1000mph in a car? Given Bloodhound’s current financial situation, their delay is the Aussie’s opportunity. The window will be narrow and only open for mere moments before the flow of cash begins again for the Bloodhound crew. And when it does, you can be pretty damn certain that they will eventually reach 1000mph. It’s now or never for Rosco, and while charging in and rendering Bloodhound’s years of work and development worthless wouldn’t exactly be the most polite thing for him to do, the pursuit of the land speed record is a war - where ethics are forgotten in favour of the ruthless battle. It’s taken 15 years to get the Invader to where it is, and it’s expected to take until 2020 to achieve 1000mph. But we all know how these things get postponed again and again.
Now though, I want to throw the question to you guys: which do you think will be the first car to achieve 1000mph? Bloodhound, or Aussie Invader? Let me know by voting below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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