The record attempt is scheduled to take place late in 2020, but the team has set no timetable for their other, much tougher objective of achieving 1000mph on land. “We’ve divided our aims into two separate phases,” says Warhurst, owner and CEO of the project’s supporting company, Grafton LSR. “We’ll concentrate on the record first, and when we’ve achieved that, we’ll use the data and knowledge gained to make a judgement about whether to go for the second phase.”
The latest Bloodhound tests will take place on a specially prepared 12-mile test track at Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa, which has been specially prepared on a dry lake bed by members of the local Mier community. Working by hand, they have removed more than 16,500 tonnes of stone in preparation for Bloodhound’s runs.
Twelve 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 12” runs are planned for this first trip to South Africa.
The new Bloodhound ownership team is maintaining its role as at attraction to STEM 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,” explains Ian 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 forthcoming tests to attract new backers, especially title and livery sponsors. For now, the car is painted all white, but the Warhurst believes when it “does something” interested corporate and technical partners, currently waiting in the wings, will come forward.
The project has moved from its old base near Bristol and will now be 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.
Warhurst has 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 including driver Andy Green and chief engineer Mark 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 will be 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.”