Breedlove guns for ‘1,000 mph car’

CRAIG BREEDLOVE SPIRIT OF AMERICA

Craig Breedlove drives his jet-powered Spirit of America during its first test run on the Black Rock Desert in Gerlach, Nev., Saturday Sept. 6, 1997. Breedlove hit 227 mph on the run.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By 
 August 18, 2013 | 

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 aerodynamics is critical,” Breedlove said. “If you have a car doing Mach 1.4 on the ground, obviously you don’t want to fly or push down too hard and go into the ground.”

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 bstanhope@dailyrepublic.net. 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

Source: Wikipedia

Note: Corrects spelling of Mark Zwieg’s name in earlier version.

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Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is the Daily Republic's news editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 17 years as a sports editor and three years as the associate editor before spending three years away from the newspaper (though continuing as a columnist). He returned in December 2010 as news editor

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