British Streamliner Shatters Steam Car Land Speed Record

By Editors on August 25, 2009 1:08 PM

A UK-based team tasted success today in the culmination of its 10-year effort to break the oldest existing land speed record mark. With driver Charles Burnett III at the wheel, the British Steam Car set a new two-way average of 139.843 mph over a measured mile at Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California. That achievement, officially recognized by the FIA, eclipsed the mark of 127.659 mph set at Daytona Beach, Florida in 1906 by American Fred Marriott in a Stanley Steamer. To qualify for a record, the FIA rules require a car to make two separate passes, one in each direction, within a 60 minute time window. On his first, Barrett topped the old mark with a 136.103 mph speed. He followed it up with a 151.085 mph streak to formally seal the deal in a vehicle affectionately known as "the fastest kettle in the world." While the team was confident the mechanical package possessed all that was needed to get the job done, it had suffered a series mechanical and weather/wind-related setbacks during the past several weeks in preparation for its shot at toppling this longstanding record. According to Project Manager Matt Candy, even when things were going well, getting the most out of the 25-foot long British Racing Green streamliner offered a major challenge. "The first run took place at 7:27 AM, when the air temperature was a cool 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The team turned around the car in 52 minutes (with just eight minutes spare) in preparation for its return run. The British Steam Car takes 2.5 miles to accelerate and after the measured mile, a further 2.5 miles to decelerate -- so each run was over 6.5 miles. Compared to the testing we did in Britain, the British Steam Car ran 12 times the distance and twice the maximum speed -- all within one hour."