Another weary day for Speed Scotland17 | 08 | 2011

    SPEED SCOTLAND'S troubled bid to break the 1000cc World Land Speed Record looks like being shaken off course by the lumps and bumps on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

    Here, Flower of Scotland driver Rick Pearson describes his frustration of a day spent squeezed into the ultra-tight cockpit of the Streamliner; travelling at 190mph; yet another gearbox failure … and the possibility of forgoing the preparation, and just going for the 313mph world record.

    Dateline — Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    So the dawn broke stunningly over the Salt Flats .... with the Flower fully prepped and ready to run.

    But with dawn came high winds from the hills and team boss Derek Palmer stepped in and refused to let us take the car to the line. The cross winds would just have made it too dangerous.

    So we sat.

    And we waited.

    Five hours later and the wind subsided and every single car still running descended to the start lines. Cue a two-hour wait to run in stifling heat. Keeping the crew from burning up and retaining some skin on my lips is becoming a full time job....

    Off the line, this time on the No2 course as I just want to make a three-mile, 200mph-plus pass for a systems check and to officially receive my 200+ mph license, but immediately we leave the line it's clear there is an issue; the chain is rattling hard and the gearbox is not responding. We've got a failure in the CO2 system that powers these items.

    The adrenaline has poured into my system and I jump out of the car, swearing at the crew in frustration and have to apologise once it's worn off. Not my finest hour, but a two-hour build up, being strapped in and fired off for it to end in 1st gear is incredibly frustrating.

    So back to base camp, swift fix and back to the start line and another 1h30 wait to run in the heat.

    Tough day on the Salt for Speed Scotland

    Back on the famous Long Course we launch well, the second gear change is good, out to 11,500 rpm and fire into third, as the speed builds, but suddenly the revs flair and the Flower slows. ANOTHER transmission failure, but this time, no noise of mechanical death from behind my head. So after a brief hesitation, trying to work out what's happening, I click fourth and the Flower picks up once again, albeit slowly, as we're off the boost levels and trying to turn a big gear. On through the three-mile, four-mile and finally the five-miles we pick up speed to exit at 190mph, but it's not enough to trouble the magic 200mph we need for the license.

    And when I park up, transmission oil is leaking from the bottom of the car. She's mortally wounded again.

    Back at base, a quick investigation shows another blown gearbox. This time third gear stripped. And the engine must once again come out.

    It has become apparent that the rough surface of the track means the Flower is getting airborne at regular intervals and this is loading and unloading the transmission which is being destroyed. Despite the thrill of a long run at 190mph — which is quick in anyone's book, let alone on a rough surface, laying on your back — we end the day once again on lows.

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    So what now? Clearly the car needs a redesign before we're going to conquer Bonneville, but speaking to the current record holder it seems clear that they too suffered in the same fashion when trying to break this record and our trials are only what is to be expected. No-one just walks into Mordor; no-one strolls to a 300mph record at Bonneville.

    For the rest of this week? We have enough parts to build one more motor/gearbox combo. So that will happen tomorrow and we may run by the end of the day. But what sort of run should it be? Do we turn down the boost and try and creep up on 200mph for my next license (despite touching over 220mph, I've not done it yet through a speed trap) in the hope that the car survives and we can then try the next (250mph) milestone?

    Or do we turn it up to 11 and try and see if she is really a 300mph car?

    To be honest, the physical toll of strapping into the car and mainlining adrenalin only to fail before the two-mile mark is taking a heavy toll. The thought of one "Hail Mary" pass is pretty tempting right now.

    I don't know yet. We'll see how the mood takes me.

    Rick Pearson

    Caption: The Saltire flies proudly over the Bonneville Salt Flats, but is the sun rising, or setting on Speed Scotland's 1000cc World Land Speed Record bid?

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