Wigan plays its part in land speed record attempt

A supersonic car, which was partly constructed in Wigan, has reached its highest speed yet of almost 500mph.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 9:36 am
The Bloodhound on display at the SGC Berkeley Green UTC in Gloucester in March

The Bloodhound SSC (supers sonic car) reached an astonishing 491mph on Tuesday, during test runs across the 20km Hakskeen Pan in South Africa.

It was being driven by the intrepid Andy Green, who is aiming to push the Bloodhound across the sound barrier, and break the land speed record of 763mph.

Andy was, in fact, part of the British team which broke the record more than 20 years ago. But following huge advances in engineering since then, Andy and colleagues are more confident than ever that they can break the record again as well as breaching the 1,000mph mark.

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Grafton LSR chief executive Ian Warhurst

The vehicle he is controlling, which more closely resembles a rocket ship than your average motor, was partly built by BHW Components Ltd, a subsidiary of Hampson Aerospace, which was based on the Wheatlea industrial estate.

The company manufactured the structure which houses the two main propulsion systems; an EJ200 Eurofighter Jet engine and the unique Falcon hybrid rocket engine.

The company later went into administration, with operations being taken over by Grafton LSR Limited.

On its website, the Bloodhound LSR (land speed record) team said: “The project is helping to push boundaries and demonstrate pioneering new technologies.

“Many of the aspects of our land speed record car have required engineers to think in new ways and manufacturers to develop novel production and testing methods.”

“Our project will showcase engineering at its very best. To break the record we need absolute precision in every aspect of what we do, starting with the design and then in the manufacture and assembly of the car.

Andy needs to be able to control the car with extreme accuracy and immediate response as there is no room for error at the speed of sound.

“To enable this, the research and development process has included use of cutting-edge computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to determine the car’s ideal shape as well as engineering skills to assess the best materials for every part of the car and the most appropriate processes to build it.

“The project will also be a demonstration of meticulous project planning, with every support team member and piece of equipment in exactly the right place at the right time to enable the two runs to be completed within the hour allowed under FIA rules.”

Ian Warhurst, CEO of Grafton LSR said: “This project has inspired so many people over the last 10 years, including both students and the wider engineering community.

“Engineers like solving problems and theorising about what happens when you pass the limits of known understanding.

“We look forward to continuing this inspiration into the future.”