RIO VISTA — Craig Breedlove won’t be behind the wheel in a land-speed record attempt. But that doesn’t mean the 76-year-old Rio Vista resident is done trying.
Fifty summers after he broke his first land-speed record, Breedlove leads a team with a heady goal: A vehicle that surpasses 1,000 mph. On land.
“I’ve been working on a new (land-speed record) car,” he said. “I have a driver lined up and have worked with people. We’re exploring (financial) backing for it.”
That’s the rub. It’s not cheap – he estimates it will cost between $50 million and $100 million to build and run the 59-foot vehicle – and it comes during a period when the economy is still recovering from the Great Recession.
“It’s more difficult because it costs more money,” he said. “The economy has been such that there wasn’t enough surplus capital to build a 1,000 mph car. It looks like the economy is improving, but we can’t wait for the economy. We’ve got to keep forging ahead.”
Breedlove said his name “opens doors, but it doesn’t close deals” while dealing with potential corporate backers.
There is an urgency, since a British team, which has held the record of 763 mph since 1997, is also gunning for the 1,000 mph barrier.
The driver for Breedlove’s vehicle – which he is designing in his Rio Vista warehouse – is Mark Zwieg, a flight-test engineer for Lockheed-Martin.
“Driving is very challenging,” Breedlove said. “Essentially, you’re being a test pilot and at this time, I don’t possess the reactions and mental acuity of a younger guy.”
His engineering expert is Neil Roberts, who literally wrote the book on speed – “Think Fast: The Racer’s Why-To Guide to Winning.” There are a few other people on his team and Breedlove would like to get a university engineering department involved, too, to conduct aerodynamic studies and a performance analysis.
But ultimately, the ability to build the vehicle and make an attempt at the 1,000-mph mark will come down to financing.
“To a large degree, the amount of funding available will determine the level of technology for the vehicle,” Breedlove said.
It’s a big project with some major obstacles.
The man who was the first to go 400 mph, 500 mph and 600 mph thinks that 1,000 mph is possible.
“We’re doing the engineering work to go that speed,” he said.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.
LAND SPEED RECORD PROGRESSION (1 mile)
Date, Location, Driver, Speed
Jan. 12, 1904; Lake St. Clair, Mich.; Henry Ford (U.S.); 91 mph
Nov. 6, 1909, Brooklands, U.K.; Victor Hémery (France),; 116 mph
June 24, 1914, Brooklands, U.K.; Lydston Hornsted (U.K.); 124 mph
July 12, 1924; France; Ernest Eldridge (U.K.); 145 mph
Sept. 25, 1924; Pendine, U.K.; Malcolm Campbell (U.K.); 146 mph
July 21, 1925; Pendine, U.K.; Malcolm Campbell (U.K.); 151 mph
April 28, 1926; Pendine, U.K.; Parry Thomas (U.K.); 170 mph
Feb. 4, 1927; Pendine, U.K.: Malcolm Campbell (U.K.); 175 mph
Sept. 16, 1947; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; John Cobb (U.K.) 394 mph
Aug. 5, 1963; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Craig Breedlove (U.S.); 407 mph
Oct. 2, 1964; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Tom Green (U.S.); 413 mph
Oct. 5, 1964; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Art Arfons (U.S.); 434 mph
Nov. 2, 1965; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Craig Breedlove (U.S.) 555 mph
Nov. 15, 1965; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Craig Breedlove (U.S.); 601 mph
Oct. 28, 1970; Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; Gary Gabelich (U.S.); 622 mph
Oct. 4, 1983; Black Rock Desert, Nev.; Richard Noble (U.K.); 633 mph
Sept. 25, 1997; Black Rock Desert, Nev.; Andy Green (U.K.); 714 mph
Oct. 15, 1997; Black Rock Desert, Nev.; Andy Green (U.K.); 763 mph
Note: Corrects spelling of Mark Zwieg’s name in earlier version.