Racecars seem to keep getting quieter these days, and if electric vehicles and fuel cells ever fully take over motorsports, then the bang, pop and growl of internal combustion engines may be gone for good. This clip of a Fiat S76 land speed record racer awaking after over a century of being dormant shows just what we would miss so much.
The point of The List is to complete a bucket list that would make any auto enthusiast proud, but there are some experiences we always assumed might be out of reach for even us. Breaking a land speed record was one of them. The time, resources and skills required to properly set a new benchmark in speed are for the seriously committed only. Fortunately for us (and you), host Jessi Combs is one of those people.
Like any form of motorsports, attempts at breaking land speed records are inherently dangerous. To wit: During a recent speed competition at El Mirage dry lake beds in southern California, racer Brian Gillespie and his first-gen Honda Insight crashed at nearly 190 miles per hour, and it was all caught on video.
A couple of weeks ago, Autoblog's video series, The List: 1,001 Car Things to do Before You Die, tackled something that's been top-of-mind since the day we came up with the concept for the series: Drive The Bonneville Salt Flats. If you saw that episode, you know that not only did hosts Jessi Combs and Patrick McIntyre check it off their List, Combs was there to work on getting qualified to make a run for the title of World's Fastest Woman.
You've probably heard of Mickey Thompson, if not for racing home-built Indy cars or punting early Funny Cars down drag strips, perhaps for the tire company he founded, his successful forays into off-road racing or, crucially, his attempts to break land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In 1960, he became the fastest man in the world after going 406 miles per hour in his race car, the brutish four-engined Challenger I, but the record was never completed and made official due to a breakd
Rolls-Royce, the "power solutions" company that makes jet engines and much more (not the luxury motorcar company) has signed on to support the Bloodhound SSC Land Speed Record attempt project. This isn't just a financial tie-up and exchange of engines and tech, though, Rolls-Royce is just as interested as the Bloodhound gang in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics to children in the UK and around the world.
In and effort to promote the high-speed grip of its new Hakkapeliitta 8 winter tire, Nokian threw a set of its new rubber on a race-prepped Audi RS6 and got moving – very, very quickly. In fact, on March 9 on top of the very frozen Gulf of Bothinia near Oulu, Finland, Nokian's test driver Janne Laitinen set a new world record for the fastest speed recorded driving on ice. If you'll recall, this isn't the first time that Audi and Nokian have played this game, either.
Lightning Motorcycles is no stranger to setting land speed records. It laid down a 173.388 mile-per-hour marker for electric motorcycles in 2010 on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and then upped the ante significantly in 2011 with a 215.960 mph performance on that same crystalline stage.
James Hoegh's mission to go faster than 168.912 mph on a naked bike on the Bonneville Salt Flats has met success. Hoegh traversed the salt during the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at 172.211 mph, entering the books in the APF3000 class as the rider on the world's fastest big block American V-twin.
Hemmings reports that Craig Breedlove is preparing to jump back into the land speed record game in an attempt to break through the 800 mph barrier. Breedlove made a name for himself while vying with Art Arfons for the world land speed record back in the '60s. His efforts eventually landed him the title in his jet-powered Sonic 1, and he would later set a total of 23 FIA speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe. Breedlove was recently named the recipient of the Si
Eva Håkansson, whose ElectroCat set a record earlier this year climbing Pikes Peak, is preparing to assault the land speed record for electric motorcycles on the Bonneville Salt Flats this Wednesday with her newest creation, the KillaJoule. This two-wheeled streamliner is not only encoded with the DNA of its Killacycle forerunner, its also possesses its motors and A123 battery pack.
Bloodhound SSC show car – Click above for high-res image gallery
Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black - Click above for high-res image gallery