Spirit of America Announced

» Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Spirit of America Announced

Craig Breedlove, the first driver to set land speed records over 400, 500, and 600 mph, all in jet-powered cars that he designed and built himself, has a huge new land speed goal in his sights:

One Thousand miles per hour.

Traveling a mile in 3.6 seconds, making shock waves in the air at Mach 1.3.

This astonishing speed is well beyond the current absolute land speed record, held by England’s Andy Green and the Thrust SSC team led by another land speed legend, Richard Noble. The record today is 763.035 mph, and it set a permanent milestone as the first land speed record that is faster than the speed of sound. This record has stood since 1997 as the pinnacle of automotive speed: The Fastest Car in the World.

Why are we targeting 1,000 mph? Because that is what our competition has set as its goal since day 1, and we will run right with them. Noble, Green, and the key members of the Thrust team are mounting a new challenge on their own record with Bloodhound. The Bloodhound car is a superb technological tour-de-force, using a highly innovative new method of hybrid propulsion. The Bloodhound team has the best and brightest of minds, engineering techniques, and computational sophistication. With a 10+ year head start on us, they are naturally light years ahead in progress toward completing their car and beginning their test program. The way that their program is progressing is a shining example of English racing excellence. Brilliance is everywhere in that program.

What makes our approach better than Bloodhound’s? Simple.

Our approach is just like hot rodding has always been. Whatever the need is, find the simplest thing that is available and does that job well, and use that. This approach is a time honored and proven path to producing spectacular results quickly, and at a cost that is within the reach of normal people like us. For example, our engines are two 1950s era General Electric J79 afterburning turbojets, producing 17,835 lb of static thrust each. That is the propulsion system that you will find in an F-4 Phantom II. One of these engines powered each F-104 Starfighter, and four of them powered each B-58 Hustler. All 3 of those warbirds are spectacular performers, with proven top speeds faster than Mach 2! More than 17,000 J79 engines were manufactured over a span of 4 decades, in 11 countries. Availability is not a problem. With those engines, and our conservative estimate of air drag as Mach number changes, our performance simulation program shows that going fast is the easy part of the program. Of course the eternal quest in racing is finding ways to go faster, and we invite you to join us in our quest for the ultimate in speed on wheels. The Spirit of America lives on innovation, and we are constantly searching for the best possible ways to add speed. If you have an idea to help us go faster, let us know about it in the comments or contact us directly through the ThinkFast Engineering Contact link.

As fun as the speed quest is, our central focus is on doing the job safely. My mission is to keep our driver Mark Zweig alive. We are serious about speed, and we are really serious about safety. We will use the best materials, the best analysis techniques, the best simulation methods, the best testing and validation techniques, and a careful, methodical operational program to maximize our chances of success.

We will talk a lot more about Mark Zweig in upcoming posts, so here is the short and sweet story behind why he is our driver. He is an accomplished combat veteran pilot flying the F-16, he is a long-time military aircraft mechanic, he is a life long motorhead, he has a lengthy compilation of land speed records driving the world’s fastest Freightliner diesel truck, and he is instantly recognizable as one of the good guys of the world.

The Spirit of America program was announced today by Autoweek‘s Mark Vaughn. Here is a link to the article:

Breedlove’s Back!

The About page at ThinkFastEngineering.com covers the highlights of my engineering career to date. My role as Director of Engineering for Spirit of America is the most exciting program that I have ever been involved in, and I am honored and humbled to be included in this extraordinarily talented, patriotic, positive, and heroic team. Great things come from great teams. I can see the progression of the entire program already, clear as day. It will be epic, and you can say that you have been a Spirit since the very first day. We invite you to join us in our quest to bring the absolute land speed record back to America.