Ian Warhurst, the entrepreneur whose last-minute rescue of the Bloodhound SSC land speed record car led to a successful 628mph preliminary foray in South Africa late last year, is working on a new plan to raise the £8 million needed to break the world land speed record.
Although the coronavirus has interrupted preparations for a return to the specially prepared track at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa’s North Cape, Warhurst said the delay has “bought us a bit more time” to review the situation and prepare the documentation needed to attract new backers.
He also believes the impending screening of a long-awaited prime-time Channel 4 documentary (6pm on Saturday 14 November) will encourage new interest in the project.
On Bloodhound’s first trip to South Africa, driver Andy Green took the car closer than expected to the existing record of 763.035mph – the first-ever supersonic record, which was set in 1997 by Green in a previous car, Thrust SSC.
“We’ve put together a completely new proposal,” said Warhurst. “It seems likely that no one sponsor will back the project completely, but we’ve nevertheless found an encouraging level of interest.
“However, sponsors need to know our record attempt will really happen – and of course it can’t unless we have the funds. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. So I’m seeking underwriters – people like myself – who will guarantee enough money to make the preparations, around half of the estimated £8m. These people will be offered the chance to join our business as partners."
Once potential sponsors see that Bloodhound has enough funds to proceed, Warhurst believes, they will have the confidence to back the project by buying media rights and advertising space on the car. Interest from potential part-sponsors has been so keen that it’s even possible, says Warhurst, that these original backers won’t need to provide all of the money they originally guaranteed.
“We’re convinced the whole thing is still doable,” said Warhurst, “but as usual we’re pushed for time. We need the team to be back at work, up and running by the first quarter of 2021 if we’re to get to Hakskeen Pan in time to catch the weather window in 2022. We wouldn’t want to leave it any later than that.”