California man hopes to break 2,000-mph speed barrier

We've been told there was a time when critics of the automobile warned against the dangers of high-speed driving. At the lofty speed of 35 miles per hour, they said, the air could very well be sucked right out of your lungs, leaving you to die of asphyxiation as you careened along at the edge of sanity.

The human race has a long history of itching to push the land-speed envelope ever farther, along with a similarly storied line of naysayers waving the thou-shalt-not flag. One man in Apple Valley, California has taken it upon himself not only to beat the current land-speed record of 763.035 mph, but to demolish it. Waldo Stakes is building a land-speed car he figures should be able to reach 2,000 mph.

Once again, for clarity's sake, that's two-thousand miles per hour.

If you've been paying attention, you likely know the Bloodhound SSC is aiming for a somewhat more modest 1,000 mph. And while that beast has an entire platoon of engineers, years of research and $15 million behind it, Stakes and his Sonic Wind Land Speed Research Vehicle are a bit more homegrown. The man makes his wages as a general contractor and walked away from formal education mid-way through a stint in community college in 1974.

But, while he hasn't followed the traditional engineering route, the man has been studying the principles behind land speed vehicles since he was a kid. More importantly, this isn't some half-cooked pipe dream. Stakes has already amassed two XLR99 rocket engines the likes of which powered the infamous X-15 experimental plane. All hail the mad scientists of the world. Head over to Popular Mechanics for a great look at his progress.

Share This Photo X