18 August 2006
18 August 2006
The JCB Dieselmax is now in the USA as it prepares for its assault on a new world land speed record for a diesel powered vehicle.
The attempt will take place at the spiritual home of land speed records, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, with the fastest man on earth - Wing Commander Andy Green - at the wheel.
Chief Designer John Piper has opted for a 50 mm square-tube steel spaceframe chassis. This is the most cost-efficient way of producing a vehicle that must be both prototype and finished product, since it allows changes to be made much more simply than might be the case with a carbon fibre composite structure (which in any case would not be allowed under the SCTA-BNI rules that govern Bonneville Speedweek).
The cockpit cell is a bespoke carbon fibre composite bathtub monocoque structure with mandatory SCTA steel tube rollover cage. The nine-litre wedge-shaped fuel cell is located behind the driver's seat.
A three-piece composite underfloor completes the basic structure, and is bolted and bonded to the bottom of the chassis to enhance stiffness.
The team has a massive task on its hands to be ready for the attempt in FIA Week starting on August 20. The whole operation was dismantled for air freighting and the team had just five days to rebuild the car, set up an operations base at Wendover airport and prepare to run at Bonneville Speed Week which begins on August 12.
“Even moving the operation here from the UK is quite an achievement,” says JCB Dieselmax Project Manager David Brown. “Our equipment accounted for over 20% of the capacity of a Boeing 747 cargo plane, and British Airways made a special diversion from Chicago to deliver our set-up to Salt Lake City.
“In addition to setting up a fully operational team HQ at Wendover airport we now have to deal with issues ranging from winning the support of the local community – this is a very British project and we’re in the Americans’ back yard – to obtaining the necessary licence from the organisers to allow Andy Green to drive. Even being the holder of the outright land speed record doesn’t give him the automatic right to drive on the Salt Flats.”
“We are now working in a very different set of conditions,” said Wing Commander Andy Green. “Salt is a completely different surface. The car has not run on it before and we don’t know whether we will experience wheel slip, which is a serious consideration at over 200mph. In addition the temperatures will be over 40 degrees.
“Then there’s the space – whereas our testing to date has been on a 1.6-mile runway, in the record attempt we will have a four-mile run-up before the one-mile timed section, followed by another four miles for deceleration. We will therefore be running the engines to produce maximum power of 1500bhp for the first time and we will be finding out the limits of the engines, tyres and track as we go.
“We’re aiming for 300mph, which would comfortably beat the existing record, but there are unknowns and there are always variables including the weather, However, this team is very capable of achieving its goal.”