Zero-Emissions British "Steamliner" Readies For Record Attempt
In a time when motorsports has set its high-tech sights on getting greener, few organizations can top the eco-correctness of the effort being put forth by an enterprising UK-based group known as Team Inspiration. Formally operating under the aegis of the British Steam Car Challenge, this dedicated cadre of clean-air competitors is preparing to shatter the world's longest-standing land speed record, a 127.659-mph mark set in 1906 by Frank Marriott behind the wheel of his factory-prepped Stanley Steamer. The ride they hope to do it with is a sleek streamliner called "Inspiration." Just over 25 feet long, this 6,000-pound missile is powered by a two-stage steam-driven turbine that sends 360 horsepower to its rear wheels. According to the Inspiration's designers, that's sufficient motivation to carry it to 170 mph.
Although modest in size, Team Inspiration does boast several members who were part of the group that helped the Thrust SSC streak across Nevada's Black Rock Desert back in 1997 to set the absolute land speed record of 763.035 mph. While dealing with far lower velocities, Team Inspiration's challenge has proven no less daunting. Trouble sorting out the car's 12 boilers left it a no show Bonneville Speed Weeks this year, the original planned locale for its date with LSR destiny. However, the team is currently negotiating for an attempt at Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California, sometime in early 2009 after the Inspiration's final shakedown runs are completed in England and the Edwards Dry Lake bed fully recovers from the winter rains.