GRR bumped into Andy Green at the glitzy Jaguar XE launch party in Earls Court on Monday, which is definitely the sort of encounter to raise the spirits on such occasions.
Your McCartneys and Mourinhos are all very well, but when assailed by celebrity on all sides there’s something reassuring about bumping into a ‘proper bloke’ with jet-fuel in his veins. I first met Andy at the Birkbeck Rally School in Saltburn in 1994, when he was thrust into his first competitive motorsport event – a grass stage time trial in a VW Golf rally car designed to help pick the finalist in the competition to drive Thrust SSC. I dutifully tapped out a story for Autocar at the time, but it didn’t honestly seem to be one of those seminal moments.
For Andy it was the white heat of competition. “We were all really fired up,” he says. “I’d never even sat in a rally car before. We only had three runs and were judged on the combined total, it wasn’t even the best of three.” But he got the job done on the day, and continued doing it all the way through to a new supersonic Land Speed Record in 1997.
So what news of the Bloodhound SSC Project which is aiming to smash the 1,000mph mark, again with Andy in the driving seat? Well the car itself – and not the full scale mock-up we’ve all been looking at for, well, ages! – will be ready for the big reveal in the Spring.
We won’t be travelling as far as Saltburn for that, but to Newquay at the other extreme of the country. The Newquay Aerohub in fact, which is a forward-looking enterprise project hoping the partnership with Bloodhound will help put it on the map.
“Look out for something exciting in the Spring,” says Andy. “We’re well aware everyone has seen the Bloodhound SSC many times, so we’ll definitely want to make some noise and flames – whether that’s with the car tethered to something, or racing up the runway.”
The car itself is almost finished, and it’s well worth the occasional dip into the Bloodhound website for updates on some of the fascinating technical stuff that’s being uploaded.
There are still plenty of potentially important decisions to be made – the use of active aero being a case in point. “We are considering active aerodynamics for trimming the car at high speed, but I’d prefer to think we can develop a car that is sufficiently stable without it,” says the man who’ll be at the wheel.
Later in 2015, Team Bloodhound moves to the Hakskeen Pan in the North Cape of South Africa – where the team has been working for the last three years with the local community to prepare for running the car in anger. (There’s fascinating content on the Bloodhound website about preparations in the desert, too.)
“I’m not supposed to say this, but the goal is to beat the Thrust record in 2015, and then go on to break 1,000mph in 2016,” Andy confirms. “If we don’t have a target there’s not much point going!”
There’s no guarantee the speed will come, of course, but Andy is pretty confident that one record will be broken and before Bloodhound SSC even turns a wheel in the desert.
“We’re going to make the longest straight line the world has ever seen, using special degradable vegetable dye to mark the course I have to drive across the desert. The line is going to be 12 miles long, and we’re using GPS to paint it so we know it will be perfectly straight.”
So there you are. A new record is pretty much in the bag already, and so much more to look forward to!