How hard is it to go over 400 MPH in a piston powered car? Well, since 1947, only 11 people have managed to do it. That is, for reference, one less than the number of people who have walked on the moon. But things are heating up. For 52 years, the overall record grew by only 8 MPH. Last year, the Speed Demon exceeded that mark by almost a factor of three, and bumped it by a whole 22 MPH. The Treit & Davenport car, a perennial favorite, is running for the first time after 13 years of development. This year, Bonneville will host the largest gathering of 400 MPH+ streamliners in history, and will proffer the most exciting series of salt events in decades.
Most of those vehicles will be competing in different classes, but to my way of thinking, there is only one real record, and that belongs to the fastest overall piston powered car. There isn’t a specific name for that, but I’ve taken to calling it The World’s Fastest Hot Rod. There are somewhere between 6-8 vehicles with a shot at that title, and I believe that the Challenger II is one of them.
With that said, jumping in the cockpit and mashing the gas tomorrow would be foolish, no matter how badly I want it. Most of the other LSR cars I mentioned were running for years before they cracked the 400 MPH barrier, let alone challenged the record. Sneaking up on the big number has been the modus operandi of the most successful attempts. The team here at THOMPSONLSR has been working like crazy trying to make Speed Week in August. Right now, that date is looking unrealistic given the amount of testing I want to do. There isn’t any room for mistakes at these speeds, so we’ll be trying for runs at the World Finals in October. My current goal for this year, frustrating as it is, will be to make sure that all the functions and safety mechanisms are up to snuff before I gas it.
See you next week.