Thirteen parallel tracks have been laid out, because the car’s unique aluminium wheels – which don’t have tyres because the rotational speed would throw them off the rims – penetrate the track’s hard surface as they run, and “up to 13” runs are planned for this first trip to South Africa.
The new Bloodhound ownership team is maintaining its role as an attraction to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects for school-age students, by making its results and research findings publicly available. “This is the first land speed record attempt of the digital era,” says Warhurst. “Digital platforms can share data in real time from hundreds of sensors on the car, allowing budding engineers to see exactly how the car is behaving as it dices with physics.”
Warhurst is funding the current preparations himself but is depending on the upcoming tests to attract new backers, especially title and livery sponsors. For now, the car is painted all white, but Warhurst believes when it “does something”, interested corporate and technical partners, currently waiting in the wings, will come forward.
The project moved from its old base near Bristol and is now based in new premises in the SGS Berkeley Green University Technical College, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire.
The car’s new livery – a red fin with a white body – is intended to encourage new investors in the project, which for the first time will offer both title and livery sponsorships. Bloodhound’s original yellow and blue livery, from what they’re now calling the R&D phase, will still be used in photographs and videos, the new owners say.
Bloodhound project's 2019 rescue explained
Warhurst established a new company, Grafton LSR Ltd, to run the project. The name is taken from an 1839 painting by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, which now hangs in the Tate Gallery, of a bloodhound called Grafton.
Warhurst is joined in the new company by familiar faces such as Green and Chapman, along with many others from the original team “to provide continuity”. The team also now includes commercial director and ex-Formula 1 money man Ewen Honeyman, whose job is to find new backers for the project.
For the time being, Warhurst, who was eight days into his retirement when he heard last December of Bloodhound’s demise by text from his son, will provide “the cashflow to keep the project on track” until extra backers are found. Warhurst recently sold Melett, a turbocharger parts and equipment supplier of which he was the owner and managing director.
“I have been overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm the public has shown for the project,” said Warhurst. “Over the past decade, an incredible amount of hard graft has been invested in this project. It would be a tragedy to see it go to waste. It’s my ambition to let Bloodhound off the leash and see just how fast it can go.”
The former boss of Bloodhound SSC, Richard Noble, will not participate on Bloodhound’s engineering side but will continue to work on its educational aspects.
“It was a hard fight to create the Bloodhound car, the largest STEM programme in the UK, the public engagement programme and the 1000-man-year desert preparation. Our weakness was always finance but now, with Ian Warhurst, the team has the support it needs to drive forward.”