First things first—the Challenger 2 will return to Bonneville in 2017. The team and I will be running Speed Week (August 12-18th) and Cook’s FIA Shootout (September 20-24th). As many of you know, I had planned to retire the car after the 2016 season, regardless of the result. That was probably the right decision, but after capturing the SCTA AA/FS record at 406.7mph, the team and I thought ending things now would mean leaving too much of the car’s potential on the table. So we’re going to give it one more try in 2017 before packing things up for good.
Over the next few months we’ll be attempting to raise enough money to attend both events. As those of you who are racers know, this is very expensive, so finding more great partners will be necessary. We’ll use Speed Week to test some upgrades we plan on making (detailed below) and will also try to bump our current 406.7mph record if conditions allow. We’ll then travel back to the salt for an attempt at the current 414mph FIA record. As always, the overall goal is to become the fastest piston car in history. That is a lofty ambition, and achieving it would require two back-to-back runs over 444mph (the current record holder is George Poteet’s Speed Demon, which has set an incredibly high bar in terms of both performance and consistency). Do I think that’s possible? Yes. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
How much more speed does the C2 have in her? It’s hard to say precisely, but during the FIA meet we were going 415mph at the 4.25 mile mark (according to our onboard instruments) when the problem occurred. Official timing starts at the 5, but we were certainly well on our way to the record with 1.75 miles of course left to go.
Now that we’ve had some time to investigate, I’d also like to explain what we think went wrong during that last run. As best we can reconstruct things, the rear u-joint in the driveshaft broke during the shift between second and third gear. The joint took out the rear track bars, which caused the nose of the rear end to drop. Meanwhile, the driveshaft broke the safety hoops and drove the transmission yoke into the case. It then took out the left rear tire, causing the car to enter into a long slide. The shaft actually exited the vehicle briefly, but then reentered through the side and damaged the breather tank and several more panels. It then broke free again, this time making it more than 200 hundred yards before bouncing to a stop. I was fine obviously, but it was one hell of a ride.
In order to address this failure, we are planning on upgrading the front and rear driveline assemblies. The previous shafts were 1350 series, so we’re stepping up to the 1480 size. Both transmission and rear end yokes will be made of 4340 and the u-joint cross will be made of 300m. Rear end track bars will be sized up from 1” 4130 to 1.375” 4130. The drive shaft hoops will be redesigned to more effectively retain the shaft should we run into another problem. We also lost eight body panels, the overflow tank, and the left rear air jack. Those are currently being reconstructed. Additionally, we’ll rebuild both rear ends and go through the engines. In short, there is lots to do between now and Speed Week.
Bottom line—the team and I feel like we’re half finished with what we wanted to achieve. It’s a big goal and a big dream, so we’re taking one more shot at it. As always, thanks to all of you for following along and for your support.