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car but it did not put Breedlove off, and he rebuilt the car over the winter.


His next attempts were


to be on Black Rock in 1997, at the same time as Wing Co Green was trying to break the sound barrier in Thrust SSC. The Thrust team knew Sonic Arrow was easily capable of 700mph, and probably more. In fact, John Ackroyd, the designer of Thrust 2 and a consultant to Breedlove, had plotted the performance of the car on the day it suffered the crash and calculated that it was capable of at least 850mph. But, despite its clear potential, the American challenge was brought to a grinding halt by a


small bolt ingested by its primary ‘hot’ General Electric J-79 jet engine. After installing the spare engine, the afterburner of which wouldn’t light, Breedlove gave up for the year and passed all of his remaining time allocation on the desert to Thrust SSC. Green went on to drive the English car to a new outright World Land Speed Record of Mach 1.01 / 763.035mph. Breedlove spent the next


nine years looking for the budget to return to Black Rock with a re-designed car, but ultimately decided to sell the project to record setting adventurer and one time racing driver, Steve Fossett. Fossett’s plan was to use


Breedlove’s project as the basis for a new attempt at the outright World Land Speed Record. So, in mid-2006, Sonic Arrow began its transformation into the Fossett LSR. The work was carried out by a team of engineers headed by aviation expert Eric Ahlstrom, and the project’s working title clearly set out the goal – Target 800mph. ‘The first thing we did when


we got the car was corrosion control,’ recalls Ahlstrom. ‘It had been in a bad environment in a shop that had flooded. ‘It is important to understand


that the car was stripped when we got it. A lot of it was on the shelf, the engine was out and


almost nothing was documented. Ultimately, it was far less complete than we had been led to believe. We went on to rebuild about 90 per cent of the car. It would be akin to taking a 10-year old Formula 1 chassis and turning it into a current Le Mans car, with all of the bodywork and drivetrain changes that entails.’ The basic vehicle concept


was retained, along with the steel tube frame chassis with stressed aluminium skin. The wheelbase and rear track were both extended by 3ft. The intake position and shape were left unchanged and the single J-79 jet engine layout was also kept. (It is interesting at this point to note


January 2012 • www.racecar-engineering.com 9


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