Bloodhound car needs to get through South African customs before breaking speed records


The Bloodhound supersonic car will be arriving in South Africa in October this year where it will be driven by Andy Green in the Northern Cape on a world record attempt.

The British-based Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) has been bought out of bankruptcy as relatively new owner and CEO, Ian Warhurst, spent around, “seven figures” in British pounds to get the project back afloat.

The Bloodhound is now set for testing at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape where the team hopes to hit 800 kilometres per hour. The testing is for gathering data using various sensors to see how the car will handle the high speeds. In addition to this, the car will also be tested on its initial braking and its parachute deployment.

Andy Green, the current land speed record holder, said that a key focus of these tests will be to see how the solid metal wheels will behave on the track. Testing will be done over a two-week period where around 12 runs will take place. All this data collection is necessary in the team’s attempt to break the land speed record, with the ultimate objective of reaching 1609.34 km/h and being the first to do so in the digital era.

The supersonic car is 13.5m long and weighs 5.5 tonnes. The front is made out of carbon fibre while the rear is composed of aerospace-grade aluminium and other composites. The Bloodhound will be powered by a modern Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine that has been borrowed from the UK’s ministry of defence. Once it’s testing and data has been analysed and integrated, a Nammo rocket will also be added.

In the Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari desert outside Upington, a 20 km by 1.1 km strip has been prepared for the record attempt – this took about seven years to get ready and involved 300 workers clearing 1600 tonnes of stone.  Green thinks that the firm, dry mud surface should offer some grip to the entirely metal wheels. He stated that he believes the straight line strip will additionally provide employment and business opportunities as several film crews have asked to use the track.

In an interview with Martin Roper, the operations director for Bloodhound LSR UK, he said that 2-3 months of heavy man power was still needed on the track. “Areas need grading, there is a lot of stones and there are big rocks in particular areas,” Roper told defenceWeb.

Moving a military jet engine and rocket requires military approval as well as special permission due to them being controlled items regulated by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). However, Green said that both the UK and South African government are fully behind the project. The jet engine will come into the country as a temporary import and along with the engine, other military grade items such as the parachute and tank for rocket fuel, need to be declared. Once South African customs assess the items, a license may be issued accordingly. Roper described the process as “time consuming” but said the Bloodhound Land Speed Record project has great contractors and that the project is coming along on schedule.