World's fastest man is training to drive at 1,000mph
- 13 September 2012
- From the section Front Page
Driving around Silverstone in the Radical, which goes from 0-60mph in just 3.1 seconds, is definitely a memorable experience.
Even better when you have the world's fastest man driving you - not sprinter Usain Bolt but Andy Green.
He's training for a record-breaking drive in the Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car) in 2013 and 2014.
"I think I have a healthy amount of nerves and caution about this," he says.
"We're literally doing something no one has ever done before."
Imagine a car with the performance of 180 Formula 1 racing cars.
It designers say it can go from 0mph to 1,000mph (1,609km/h) and back to zero in 120 seconds - it's propelled by its jet and rocket engines.
Andy, an RAF fighter pilot, says: "I won't be worried about crashing, more the fact I have to control the power and the speed, plus we'll have a live camera streaming the whole time for people to watch."
The 48-year-old is the current 763mph (1,300km/h) world land speed record after his 1997 drive in Thrust SSC. This time, it'll be different though.
"It's difficult to describe what 1,000mph feels or looks like.
"With the Bloodhound we will quite literally be driving faster than a speeding bullet from the world's most powerful hand gun."
Andy will be experiencing the pressure of three times the force of gravity when he's inside the cockpit as he reaches the top speed.
Bloodhound will take 15 seconds to reach 100mph but it will then take just 25 seconds to go from 100mph to 1,000mph.
"It won't be a case of jump in, start engines, floor-it-and-hope. We're carrying out a precise step-by-step test programme to make sure we get it right and I'm training hard for it."
Training for a top speed
To train for 1,000mph seems an impossible task but as we drive around the main circuit Silverstone he demonstrates how practising here, will help him drive the Bloodhound on the day, in a South African desert.
"Getting used to the different grip levels, feeling a car sliding, steering into a little bit, adjust the throttle slightly, I can practise all that at 200mph on a track beforehand.
"I'm relying on my RAF background as a pilot too."
But flying a plane and driving a supersonic car is a different ball game. Andy will lie feet-first in the Bloodhound. As the car accelerates from 0-1,000 mph in 42 seconds, he will experience a 2G force and the blood will rush to his head.
Then when he decelerates, he'll experience forces of up to 3G causing the blood to drain to his feet. He could black out.
"I'm practising for this in a stunt aircraft, by flying upside-down. Of course I must develop some car-driving skills as well which is the point of being at Silverstone."
But this isn't just about the need for speed. Bloodhound is being used as educational tool to try to inspire school children into becoming the next generation of scientists and engineers.
More than 5,000 schools across the UK will be using videos from the Bloodhound project as part of their lessons.
Andy says: "We want to showcase the great engineers we have in this country and can have in the future.
"When you go into schools and talk about this project, children's eyes light up and it inspires them. That's what it's about for us."