This could be the last chance to save the Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project.
Back in 2019, the Bloodhound LSR jet car project achieved a new top speed of 628 mph during high-speed testing at the Kalahari Desert race track in South Africa, smashing the 500-mph target and making a Bugatti Chiron seem slow by comparison.
Since then, the project has suffered more setbacks. Originally, the team was hoping to use the jet car to beat the current land speed record this year, but the pandemic inevitably put these plans on hold. Now, the team wants to attempt a new 800 mph+ land speed record in 2022, but this will require significant investments. To make this happen, Bloodhound LSR is looking for a new owner to lead the project. This could be make or break for the ambitious and expensive project, which has already faced financial setbacks in the past.
For the next stage, the team needs to install a Nammo monopropellant rocket that will give the car a top speed of over 800 mph for its record attempt in South Africa. Installing the rocket and transporting the car is expected to cost £8 million ($10.9 million), but the economic challenges caused by the pandemic has "severely impacted" fundraising.
As a result, Bloodhound LSR's current owner and Chief Executive, Ian Warhurst, will no longer lead the project and is putting the 800-mph jet car up for sale after acquiring it in late 2018. The new owner will also take over Grafton LSR Ltd, the holding company which owns the Bloodhound LSR project.
"It has been a privilege to lead this team of world-class engineers over the past two years. I was spellbound - along with a huge audience around the world - as we tested the car up to 600+ mph in South Africa," said Warhurst: "When I committed to take the car high-speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts."
"Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020 which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months. At this stage, in absence of further, immediate, funding, the only options remaining are to close down the program or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project.
"This gives someone with the right passion and available funding to effectively swoop in at the last minute and take the prize. I will, of course, be cheering from the side-lines when Bloodhound smashes through 800 mph." This, then, could be the last chance to save the Bloodound LSR project.
"In my opinion, the Bloodhound team has built the best Land Speed Record Car ever. It made our 628 mph test run look easy! We're now raring to get to 800 mph+, to showcase this technical marvel and to invite a global audience to join in an incredibly exciting adventure. After the horrible 2020 pandemic year we have all just experienced, the world needs a good news story, and Bloodhound is ready to deliver it," said Bloodhound driver Andy Green.
To prepare for a new record attempt in 2022, work will need to restart in the next few months. Otherwise, there's a danger the car could be put into long-term storage with "no certainty of being able to restart the project," which would be a tremendous shame after the amount of work and investment that's gone into the project over the last 13 years.