Bloodhound Project director Richard Noble hopes that his supersonic scheme will inspire kids to invent and design new technology, to boost the UK’s economy.
About Richard Noble and The Bloodhound Project
Richard Noble hopes to drive his supersonic car, Bloodhound SSC, into the record books this year but he is also full of hope about another mission – to engage young people in the exciting science and technology that’s involved in developing a high speed car.
Why is creating and racing the Bloodhound SSC so important to you?
I belong to a generation that created the most advanced aircraft in the World in the 1950s and 60s. Building land speed record cars enables us to pioneer new technologies and develop very high performance vehicles – a continuation of the extraordinary innovation and skills of those years.
Whose idea was the Bloodhound Project?
The Bloodhound Project education programme was suggested by Lord Paul Drayson who was the Minister of Defence Equipment and Support at the MOD – it was his idea to run The Bloodhound Project through schools to provide inspiration for a new generation of scientists and engineers.
What did you study at school?
I studied maths, physics and chemistry A-levels at school. Physics A-level is the money button these days – it enables successful students to become scientists and engineers and get involved in things just like the Bloodhound Project.
Did you know what you wanted to do after leaving school?
I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do as a school leaver except that I did want to do the world land speed record at some stage. I went into sales, selling paint and later, man-made fibres, which taught me so much. Attempting the land speed record with Thrust 2 and now with Bloodhound SSC wasn’t a predictable career path but it was an incredibly valuable experience.
What are the aims of the Bloodhound Project?
When we are successful, the Bloodhound Project will have encouraged a huge number of extraordinarily capable scientists and engineers – this means we can start up serious manufacturing industries and export products to get our country out of debt.
How do you feel about the Bloodhound Project now that you’re about to attempt the land speed challenge in Bloodhound SSC?
With huge challenges to face every day, at times it seemed as if the Bloodhound Project was absolutely impossible. It looked as if we had taken on such an advanced project that the technology we needed didn’t exist for us to be able to complete the programme! Finding the finance for the Bloodhound Project was a nightmare and required the help of 340 companies. But we made it through – by my calculations it took 160 man-years of work to research, design and build Bloodhound!
Mia Connor reports on her school’s involvement in the Bloodhound Project:
“Along with other Year 9 pupils at the Royal Masonic School in Hertfordshire, I took part in the Bloodhound Project, which encourages students to take an interest in science, maths and engineering. Each group had to make the fastest model car, using gunpowder as fuel to try to break the 200 mph record.
For the Bloodhound Project day, my group worked together to design a car that would travel the fastest, taking size, shape, and length into account.
Overall, my favourite part of the Bloodhound Project was when we set off the rockets across the hockey pitch – it was really exciting! The project took around half of a school day and I would wholeheartedly recommend it as it was a really fun way to learn more about science.
Being involved in The Bloodhound Project showed me exciting aspects of science that I hadn’t thought about before. I now have a greater interest in the subject and I’m very glad that I was able to take part in the project.”
FACT FILE: British land speed records
The land speed record is the highest speed achieved by a person using a vehicle, wheeled or non-wheeled, on land.
On 25 September 1924, Malcolm Campbell driving the 350 horsepower Sunbeam Blue Bird set records for the Flying Mile (146.16 mph) and Flying Kilometre (146.15 m.p.h.) at Pendine Sands, in Wales
In September 1980, Thrust 2 driven by Richard Noble, broke the Flying Mile record at a speed of 248.87 m.p.h. and the Flying Kilometre record at 251.190 mph at RAF Greenham Common.
In 1998, Colin Fallows bettered Richard Noble’s UK record in his Vampire jet dragster at an average speed of 269 mph. Mark Newby raised this to 272 mph in Split Second in July 2000 but Colin Fallows raised the record again on the same day, to record an average speed of 300.3 mph with a peak of 329 mph.
In May 2015, Hollywood star Idris Elba smashed an 88-year-old driving record by travelling at 180.361mph over a measured mile. The award-winning actor blasted across the Pendine Sands in Wales in a £175,000 Bentley Continental GT, to beat the 1927 record set by Sir Malcolm Campbell.