Bloodhound: Mach 1 on Land

Alpha Dog

Words by Tom McCarthy

Photos by Stefan Marjoram courtesy of Bloodhound SSC

The Alpha Dog of all race cars: Bloodhound SSC.


In racing it's not uncommon to come across the phrase "Don't come down off the porch unless you're ready to run with the big dogs." The meek may inherit the earth my friend, but they sure as hell better stay off the race course, especially the land speed record course. This is where the really big dogs roam.


There's a new Alpha dog in town and before him there shall be no others. Not now, not ever, not if all goes according to Richard Noble's grand plan to be the first to break the 1,000 MPH mark. In as much as Richard’s race team of Thrust SSC (Super Sonic Car) was the first to break the sound barrier 20 years ago with a similar endeavor, one has to believe this team can take it to the next level.


The new Alpha dog's name is Bloodhound and this big dog is going deep into uncharted territory: speeds in excess of Mach 1. Mach 1.4 to be precise, 1,000 MPH or 1426-fps for you 357 Magnum fans – yes, a race car faster than a speeding bullet. Superman, sit down, shut up, have a cookie.


For the record, without exaggerating, the average speed of a 357 Magnum 125-grn JHP round is indeed close to 1500-fps (Feet Per Second) and when Bloodhound reaches its design intended speed of 1,000 MPH, that's how fast the car will actually be traveling.


The loads on the car will be enormous, unlike anything ever encountered by automotive engineering before. The wheels are close to 35.8" in diameter and will be spinning at close to10,500 rpms at 1,000 mph. The projected radial G-forces will exceed 50 tons.


The engineering that's gone into the building of this car is as amazing as the car itself. This truly is rocket science. Two power sources are required to get the car up to 1,000 MPH in less than one minute.

This 5 liter Jaguar, supercharged V-8 is the fuel pump for the HTP (High Test Peroxide) that will help generate extra thrust for Bloodhound.


The primary power plant for Bloodhound is a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, the EJ-200 by Rolls-Royce. This engine alone can bring the car up to over 600 mph, or half speed if you will, without assist. Twenty thousand pounds of thrust can do that.


The secondary power source is an advanced Nammo rocket motor designed specifically for Bloodhound. This hybrid rocket utilizes a bi-propellant system with a solid fuel central to the motor, but hollow in the middle where HTP (High Test Peroxide) fuel will be force fed into it during the burn phase. A 5 Liter Jaguar supercharged V-8 car engine acts as the fuel pump to inject HTP at a rate of 200 pounds/second into the rocket motor for about 20 seconds.


When fired, the Nammo rocket will be engaged approximately 35 seconds into the run and it has about 20 seconds to get the job done in bringing the car up to full speed. A typical run profile will look something like this; the car has to accelerate to full speed in not greater than 55 seconds and then reduce speed in not more than 65 seconds in order to come to a safe stop within the 12-mile race course, which is indecently two miles wide. Two minutes of absolute fury with flawless execution is required to achieve the desired results: a peak speed of 1000 MPH. There is no room for error of any kind.


The pilot of Bloodhound -- and he is a real RAF Fighter pilot -- is 52-year-old Andy Green, who happens to be the current fastest man in the world on four wheels. Andy was Richard Noble's driver of the Thrust SSC car which broke the sound barrier and established the current world Land Speed Record of 763 MPH on 15 October, 1997. They actually pushed the car as fast as 771 mph, to Mach 1.03 in fact.

VOLUME XIX,  NUMBER 3 - March  2017

The driver of Bloodhound SSC, Andy Green, is seen here delivering something he truly loves: inspiring a new generation by helping to expose them to new technology while striving to new heights.


If anyone can pull off this amazing engineering feat, these are the men who can do this. While there are thousands of race car drivers the world over, only one man has officially been across the sound barrier on land, and back, and that's Andy Green.


A person may wonder “Do strange things happen when a car breaks the sound barrier?” You bet your ass they do - if you’re driving that is.


When Andy was driving the Thrust SSC car, as the car got up to about 590 mph, plus or minus five mph, the car would suddenly leap 30 to 50 feet to the left. As to whether this was precisely due to pressure waves is not exactly known. It was also at this speed that as the car began to go transonic, Andy would start to hear and feel the strange vibration in the car, a kind of moan it would generate, as the shock waves built up about his canopy.


Andy could not actually hear the sonic boom while driving the car at a supersonic speed, but the shock (pressure) wave that fanned out off the front of the car was doing its thing after exceeding Mach 1 the whole time. And, yes, strange things did happen after Mach 1 during the Thrust SSC performance.


Here's one example of a supersonic abnormality they encountered. When Thrust SSC was going supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) its front wheels were turning slower than the actual known speed of the car.


In reviewing the data, it's assumed that the lower-most lip of the front of the car, where the pressure wave generated from, while facing the desert surface, was fanning out the pressure wave in such a manner that the wave was acting in effect like a high pressure air-hose, blasting away the desert playa surface, clearing a path before the wheels so the front wheels of the car simply did not have full traction at full speed to rotate them in concert with the actual known air-speed.


It's not a bad thing Bloodhound has a real RAF Fighter Pilot in the cockpit of this car!

The build team creating Bloodhound in the shop located in the UK.


Why do this some may ask? Well for the Bloodhound SSC team there are two primary answers that are at the tip of a very large iceberg. The first is this project is an extraordinary engineering adventure that has touched the lives of thousands of people, many school children in the UK, and in South Africa, where the car will make its record runs. The following of the Bloodhound project by school children in the UK, in 2015, saw involvement by more than 100,000 participants and in South Africa, 1200 schools took part in Bloodhound school projects that same year.

People at the core of the Bloodhound project are smart enough to know that children are our future. By involving them in model rocket car building and exploring the science of building this amazing race car, some children are motivated to further explore science. In time, some have advanced on to engineering studies inspired by Bloodhound’s enormity. Overall, this advances society as a whole.


By sharing all of Bloodhound’s data and even CAD drawings through the Bloodhound SSC website, many lives are touched. There’s no telling how far the ramifications of Bloodhound’s global initiatives will reach and how this will impact the lives of many.


Which brings us to the second big reason as to “Why do this?” The Bloodhound Project is not only inspiring a new generation of engineers, but pioneering new technology in a way that there’s no telling how these discoveries will impact the future in motor sports and other areas of endeavor.


For example, the Nammo rocket motor designed for Bloodhound is now under consideration for space exploration use by the UK. The Bloodhound project is not only inspiring a new generation of engineers; it’s very technology is breaking new ground with developments in propulsion. Other engineering requirements for Bloodhound to achieve its objectives may generate new developments in new areas yet to be determined.


The very presence of the Bloodhound Project going to the Hakskeen Pan, in Northern Cape, South Africa, has generated temporary jobs for hundreds of people who would otherwise be without. A new water pipeline is headed into the region to address the legions of people who will flock to the race course when the time comes. A valuable water resource is now in place that would not be there if not for Bloodhound coming into the area. The race course built by the local people in conjunction with Government Resources and the Bloodhound Team, will one day be booking new race teams who seek to utilize the finest, flattest race course in the world. An increased quality of life for the local inhabitants is developing as a result of the project.


In 2017 the car will be fully completed and initial testing will commence in the UK where the car is being built. Once Bloodhound is race ready about 10 containers of equipment will be shipped to South Africa and the car will be flown by Cargo Logic Air to Uppington, SA. The whole lot of it will end up on the HakSkeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The exact dates of these important steps are not known at the time of this writing but with Geely Holding Group now firmly on board as the primary sponsor, the project is in high gear.

The future belongs to those bold enough to explore it and break new ground, find new technology and explore new ways to utilize it. There simply is no way to project all the ways Bloodhound will impact all connected to the project. This will not be known for years to come until years after the project reaches it apogee. This is where Alpha dogs roam, seeking out new horizons.


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