Wanted: speed freak with deep pockets keen on sniffing out Bloodhound record

The Bloodhound land speed record car needs a R166m funding injection. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Bloodhound land speed record car needs a R166m funding injection. Picture: SUPPLIED

For sale: one land-speed record car, top speed 1,287km/h-plus, low mileage.

Yes, the troubled British-backed Bloodhound project that aims to set a new land-speed record in the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape, is again seeking a new backer, one with deep pockets and a keen sense of adventure.

The long-delayed project started by former land-speed record-holder Richard Noble was rescued from bankruptcy in 2018 by British billionaire Ian Warhurst, but the economic climate brought on by the global pandemic has severely affected the search for fundraising and the project timeline.

As a result, Warhurst is inviting a new owner to take over Grafton LSR, the holding company that owns the Bloodhound LSR project.

After the jet-powered car was rescued from the scrap heap, Warhurst’s team brought it to the Kalahari’s 19.2km dry lake bed on Hakskeen Pan for high-speed testing in November 2019 when driver Andy Green achieved a top speed of 1,010km/h.

The goal was to fit Bloodhound with a Nammo rocket in addition to its jet engine, providing the thrust required to return to SA and challenge the existing 1,228km/h land-speed record set by Green in a car called Thrust SSC in 1997.

More sponsors were needed to fund the upgrade and the record attempt, at an estimated cost of £8m (R166m), but then the pandemic hit and put the brakes on the project.

“When I committed to take the car high-speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts,” says Warhurst.

“Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020, which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months. At this stage, in absence of further, immediate funding, the only options remaining are to close down the programme or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project.

“This gives someone with the right passion and available funding to effectively swoop in at the last minute and take the prize. The new owner will inherit a proven high-speed car with a demonstrated potential for an 800-plus mph (1,287km/h) world land-speed record.”

Bloodhound driver Green said: “In my opinion, the Bloodhound team has built the best land-speed record car ever. It made our 628mph (1,010km/h) test run look easy. We’re now raring to get to 800-plus mph, to showcase this technical marvel and to invite a global audience to join in an incredibly exciting adventure.”

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