As a man who has held the electric land speed record for more than 10 years, Don Walesis arguably the ideal competitor to take part in theRAC Future Car Challenge.Wales, who is the nephew of Donald Campbell CBE and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, has been maintaining the Campbell record-breaking tradition since establishing the UK Land Speed Record for an electric car in 2000 in his vehicle Bluebird, at a speed of 137mph. His record remains unbroken.On Saturday 5 November Don Wales will be competing in the RAC Future Car Challenge in a Toyota Auris Hybrid T Spirit, with his son Joseph as co-driver. The aim of RAC Future Car Challenge isn’t about speed though; all competitors are to complete the route using the least amount of energy possible.As Don said “One day we’re going to run out of today’s fuels and electric is the future. I’ve felt strongly about this for over a decade and launched Bluebird Electric in the late 1990s. I’m pleased that it’s now being taken seriously by the industry, and events such as the RAC Future Car Challenge are an excellent way to showcase publicly how far technology has evolved.”Toyota said “We are delighted to be welcoming Don back as one of our team in the RAC Future Car Challenge. He is a British champion driving a British built car and a great ambassador for new, cleaner automotive technologies.”Alongside Don Wales will be a number of other personalities including motoring writer Quentin Willson, actor Robert Llewellyn, former Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill OBE, and TV presenter Kevin McCloud. They will all be undertaking the challenge in a number of new, pre-production and concept vehicles that demonstrate fuel-efficient motoring.
During the afternoon of Saturday 5 November Regent Street will be closed to traffic for the Regent Street Motor Show. Here, more than 300 iconic cars representing pioneering motoring achievements of the 19th, 20th and 21st century will be on display in a free-to-spectate event.Don Wales, members of the Bluebird Team and the Bluebird Electric carwill be present.
The Bluebird Electric which will be on display at the Regent Street Motor Show is currently being used as a test and development vehicle to try different battery technologies and drive units as part of Wales' ultimate goal to set an electric record of more than 500mph in 2013.
Although the bodyshell of Bluebird Electric remains unchanged since 2000, the engineering is completely new. At the start of 2011 Bluebird Automotive, Tirius Ltd and post-graduate students from the University of Bristol upgraded all the drivetrain and electronics. Bluebird Electric’s 300 nickel-cadmium vented cell batteries provide power to brushless permanent magnetic motors, each producing 200kW of peak power and a total of 1100Nm peak torque.
Bluebird runs on Goodyear Land Speed Eagle tyres (lightweight, tubeless, low resistance drag tyres) specially designed for high speed runs. The bodyshell measures 7 metres long and is 140cm wide, the height to the top of fin is 130cm.