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Bloodhound LSR owner asking for another $10 million to break the land-speed record

Published in blog.hemmings.com

All winter, the Bloodhound land-speed racing team has made it clear that they won’t be able to return to South Africa’s Hakskeen Pan for a run at the world land-speed record without additional funding. This week, Ian Warhurst, the team’s owner, made it clear just how much additional funding the team needs: about $10 million.

“In the last six months, we’ve proven the technology works and that the car works,” Warhurst said in a video released on Tuesday. “We’ve proven now that Bloodhound is capable of taking the all-time land-speed record. So we now have a plan and now know what needs to be done. It’s important to get out there before the end of 2021 and we’ve found that we need £8 million.” (That’s $10.25 million based on the current exchange rate.)

In the team’s testing session at Hakskeen Pan in November, driver Andy Green took the jet-powered streamliner to a top speed of 628 mph. During the weeks-long session, intended to test nearly every aspect of the car and to ensure its stability at speed, no major technical issues cropped up, leading Green, Warhurst, and the rest of the team to declare the Bloodhound ready for record runs.

Since the testing, the Nammo rocket that the team sees as key to boosting the streamliner’s single Eurofighter Rolls-Royce EJ200 turbofan past the land-speed record, has been completed and installed in the car.

Yet, in the weeks after the session, Warhurst acknowledged that after spending millions of pounds out of his own pocket (and after the effort had spent about £30 million to design and build the hybrid jet/rocket car and to test it once at low speeds in Britain), the project wouldn’t continue without a dose of sponsorship money. At the time, he estimated it would take somewhere between £5 million and £10 million, depending on the team’s then-unfinished evaluations of the testing session.

In his plea for sponsorship, Warhurst noted that the record-breaking runs will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for potential sponsors.

“This isn’t just another football match,” he said. “This is likely going to be one of the last land-speed records ever.”

While the Bloodhound team initially set its sights on surpassing 1,000 mph, Warhurst appears to have scaled that goal back to merely breaking the land-speed record, which Green set at 763.035 mph in 1997 in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in the Thrust SSC. At the time Warhurst bought the Bloodhound project in late 2018, it reportedly needed an additional £10 million beyond what it would have cost to break just the land-speed record to go on and eclipse the 1,000 mph mark.

The only other current contender for the world land-speed record, Australian Rosco McGlashan with his Aussie Invader 5R, still has a stated goal of 1,000 mph.

Warhurst has already set a date for breaking the land-speed record for the third quarter of 2021. With that timeline, he said in the video that he will need to secure the £8 million sponsorship by the end of March, otherwise he’ll have to wrap up the effort entirely.