Grounding the world’s fastest car

Engineers designing the world’s
fastest car believe they now have a solution to keep the vehicle flat on the

Bloodhound SSC is being built to
smash the world land speed record by topping 1,000mph.

Initial iterations of the car’s
aerodynamic shape produced dangerous amounts of lift at the vehicle’s rear.

But the latest modelling work
indicates the team has finally found a stable configuration, allowing the
project to push ahead with other design areas.

“At Mach 1.3, we’ve close to
zero lift which is where we wanted to be,” said John Piper, Bloodhound’s
technical director.

“Up until this point, we’ve
had some big issues. We’ve had lift as high as 12 tonnes, and when you consider
the car is six-and-a-half tonnes at its heaviest – that amount of lift is
enough to make the car fly,” he told BBC News.

“We’re very close now to
fixing the exterior aero surface, which really opens the floodgates to the rest
of the design work to really get going.”

By playing with the position and
shape of key elements of the car’s rear end, the design team has now found the
best way to manage the shockwave passing around and under the vehicle as it
goes supersonic.

The solution is a major milestone
in Bloodhound’s design.

To claim the world land speed
record, Bloodhound will have to better the mark of 763mph set by the Thrust
SuperSonic Car in 1997.

It will be powered by a combination
of a hybrid rocket and a jet engine from a Eurofighter-Typhoon.

The team plans to mount their
assault on the record in late 2011, driving across a dried up lakebed known as
Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa.