• Aug 26, 2009
British Steam Car Challenge world speed record – Click above for high-res image gallery

Finally, after much ado and a number of stalled attempts, the British Steam Car Challenge team has finally set the world record it had sought for so long. With an official two-way average of 139.843 miles per hour, the steam-powered streamliner really is the Fastest Kettle in the World. Congrats!

Driver Charles Burnett III was behind the wheel for both outings, and he managed to reach a peak speed of 136.103 mph on the first run and 151.085 mph on the second. Both passes were made in the presence of the FIA, so after all the correct paperwork is filed, the previous record, set at 127 mph in 1906 by Fred Marriot in a Stanley Steamer, should officially be eclipsed. Shortly after the two runs took place, Burnett said:
It was absolutely fantastic I enjoyed every moment of it. We reached nearly 140mph on the first run before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150 mph. The car really did handle beautifully. The team has worked extremely hard over the last 10 years and overcome numerous problems. It is a privilege to be involved with such a talented crew, what we have achieved today is a true testament to British engineering, good teamwork and perseverance.
Click past the break for the official press release. Thanks to all who sent this in!



[Source: British Steam Car Challenge]

PRESS RELEASE:

British team breaks oldest land speed record


Edward's Air Force Base, California: Tuesday August 25th:

Today at 8.19am (California time) Charles Burnett III successfully broke the land speed record for a steam powered car – which has stood for more than 100 years – achieving an average speed of 139.843mph on two runs over a measured mile.

Driver Charles Burnett III piloted the car for both runs reaching a peak speed of 136.103mph on the first run and 151.085mph on the second. The new international record, which is subject to official confirmation by the FIA, breaks the previous official FIA record of 127mph set in 1906 by American, Fred Marriott, driving a Stanley steamer at Daytona Beach.

As he was congratulated by his jubilant crew, principal driver, Charles Burnett III said:

"It was absolutely fantastic I enjoyed every moment of it. We reached nearly 140mph on the first run before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150 mph. The car really did handle beautifully. The team has worked extremely hard over the last 10 years and overcome numerous problems. It is a privilege to be involved with such a talented crew, what we have achieved today is a true testament to British engineering, good teamwork and perseverance"

Project Manager Matt Candy said:

"The first run took place at 7.27am when the air temperature was a cool 63 degrees Fahrenheit, the team turned around the car in 52minutes (with just 8 minutes spare) in preparation for its return run. The British Steam Car takes 2.5 miles to accelerate and after the measured mile, a further 2.5 miles to decelerate – so each run was over 6.5 miles. The FIA requires that the return run takes place within 60 minutes. The times of the two runs are then averaged to obtain the official recorded speed. Compared to the testing we did in Britain, the British Steam Car ran 12 times the distance and twice the maximum speed ­– all within one hour. It's been a huge challenge for all."

Pam Swanston wife of the late project manager Frank Swanston was overcome with emotion after seeing Charles power the supercar across the dry lake bed, she said:

"If only Frank was here today, it was his vision that made it a reality. He would be incredibly proud of the team's achievements and always believed we would succeed. Today we celebrate this record for Frank"



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Big deal.

      This steam locomotive did 125 mph in 1938... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A4_4468_Mallard

        • 5 Years Ago
        wow, thats fantastic
      • 5 Years Ago
      103 years later, and fully custom streamliner, and they beat the record by 13mph.

      wow...
      • 5 Years Ago
      ...what a disapoint.. only 20 km/h more...
      • 5 Years Ago
      A great accomplishment to beat such a long standing record. An a testament to the fact that steam technology has truly peaked.
      popke17
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still don't get the math involved in this... 136.103+151.085=287.188/2= 143.594? vs 139.843

      I am completely open to an obvious oversight by myself, but can someone explain it to me?
        popke17
        • 5 Years Ago
        @popke17
        ahhhh... that makes much more sense.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @popke17
        I don't think they use peak speed
        I think they use the average speed over the measured mile (less than peak speed)
      • 5 Years Ago
      A nice accomplishment to be sure, but I would say Fred Marriot's record is even more impressive. 127 mph in a Stanley Steamer, in 1906? That's an amazing feat.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I suspect the SS made more horsepressure (pun intended) than the brit streamliner.
        The streamlined brit must be pretty easy to push through the air. My un-streamlined 1973 Kawasaki did over 150 (front wheel speedo) indicated in 1973 with only 80-some stock horsepower. You'd think a modern steamer/streamliner would be able to do over 200.