Land speed record project zooms into Barnstaple

Joseph Bulmer

A 1,000mph car designed to inspire the scientists and engineers of tomorrow takes centre stage at Petroc event.

A full sized replica of a rocket-powered car that will attempt to breach the 1,000 miles-per-hour land speed record took centre stage at a special event hosted by Petroc in Barnstaple on Thursday.

The Bloodhound project team, led by former land speed record holder Richard Noble OBE are seeking to break the magic 1,000mph barrier in 2013.

But their main aim is to inspire the next generation of young people to pursue careers in the sciences, maths and engineering with a project wholly designed and built in Britain.

The free public event was organised by Petroc as part of its role as regional lead for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM.)

As well as the impressive vehicle itself, visitors could chat to the team, try their hand at the supersonic driving simulator and enjoy an engaging presentation from Richard, who broke the land speed record in 1983 when his Thrust2 car reached 633.468 mph.

In 1997 the Thrust SSC supersonic car developed by him and driven by RAF fighter pilot Wing Commander Andy Green reached 763 mph and became the first car to officially break the sound barrier.

Petroc students were also on hand running a variety of scientific display and demonstrations, while on Wednesday local primary school pupils were invited to an interactive science show.

“We have a huge problem in Britain with a shortage of scientists and engineers,” he told the Gazette, “so to encourage more young people we need something exciting.

“The car will go faster than a Euro Fighter at 3,000 feet and it is equivalent to 160 Formula One cars – it’s an amazing piece of machinery.

“We already have around 4,800 schools following the project and the idea is to make it open and make all the technology available so that they can study every little bit of it. All the data will be available live once we start running the car in 2013.”

The Bloodhound will be powered by both jet and rocket engines, plus an 800 bhp Cosworth race engine to run hydraulics and fuel pump.

Schools and colleges are invited to get involved with and follow the bloodhound project by going to For a donation their names can be inscribed on the car’s tail fin, with 10,000 already taken and 90,000 remaining to fill.