The project to secure the world steam car speed record is on track, with everything focused on the record attempt at Bonneville Salt Flats, USA in August 2008. This will follow the unveiling of the British Steam Car at the 60th Bonneville Speed Week from 18 to 24 August.
Having overcome numerous challenges and setbacks in the past eight years, the British Steam Car Team has demonstrated remarkable resolve and fortitude - in true British Bulldog fashion. This is by no means a lavishly funded project and most of the work developing and building the car has been undertaken in a modest wooden workshop at Lymington in the New Forest.
Project manager, Frank Swanson, who sadly died in 2007, instigated much of the engineering groundwork. Since then, the British Steam Car Team has regrouped and was boosted by the recruitment of Don Wales as test driver. Wales is the nephew of the late Donald Campbell and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell - who between them established more than 20 land and water speed records. Wales himself set an electric vehicle land speed record in Bluebird Electric in 2000. At Bonneville, the British Steam Car will be housed in the same hangar used by the Campbells for their record attempts.
The British Steam Car Team was started when Lord Montagu of Beaulieu saw a project undertaken by students at Southampton University. His nephew, Charles Burnett III, was inspired by the proposed steam powered record car and assembled the British Steam Car Team. Charles Burnett III will be the principle driver of the steam car and has previously achieved several land and water world records.
Before attempting the world steam car speed record, the British Steam Car Team expects to secure the British steam car record at Elvington, near York, during early July. It is 70 years ago (3 July 1938) that the last famous British steam powered vehicle secured a world record when the Mallard steam train reached 126mph. It is also 40 years since the end of mainline steam on British railways- an anniversary being celebrated by the National Railway Museum at York in May.
The British Steam Car Team schedule is as follows:
During May, final testing at Thorney Island, Portsmouth with a media launch Early July, British steam car speed record attempts at Elvington, near York Mid July, despatch of British Steam Car to the USA18 to 24 August, official unveiling and preparatory testing at Bonneville Speed Week with test driver, Don Wales From 25 August, world steam car speed record attempts at Bonneville Salt Flats by Charles Burnett III September return of British Steam Car to UK and then on permanent display at National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu
Monthly updates are available at www.steamcar.co.uk (which includes profiles of team members and technical specifications for the British Steam Car
There is still plenty of time for members of the public to become involved with and support the British Steam Car Team. The official website, www.steamcar.couk include a link to a special Pound a Pixel website. Here, individuals and companies can buy space on the site and will get their names on the car for just £1.
Notes for editorsThe British Steam Car Team has support from Richard Noble (Thrust SCC), Squadron Leader Andy Green holder of the first ever (and only) supersonic World Land Speed Record of 763.035mph set in 1997 and Donald Campbell's daughter, Gina Campbell who has achieved numerous water-speed records.
The last official steam powered record attempt took place in 1906, with Fred Marriott driving a Stanley Steamer built by the Stanley brothers. It achieved 127.659mph.
The FIA, the sanctioning body for land speed records, recognises a record as the average speed of two passes made across a measured distance in opposing directions within 60 minutes of each other.
While the most obvious goal of the project is to bring another land speed record to Britain, there is a deeper and longer term aspect to the project. The team hopes that the project will have a significant impact on the future of automobile technology.
When the vehicle returns to the UK, it will retire to the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu. The project will have an ongoing purpose - to promote awareness of ecologically responsible technologies to students across the country.