Speed Scotland gets oh so close20 | 08 | 2011

    SPEED SCOTLAND — just when it looked like the Scots team was primed to launch a final, all-out challenge to the 313mph 1000cc World Land Speed Record — again suffered technical problems.

    Here driver Rick Pearson gives us an insight into his two 250mph-plus runs on the Bonneville Salt Flats; tells of how the car felt on opposite lock at scary mph, and how the team is ready to return next year to finally become world recordbreakers.

    Dateline — Friday, August 19, 2011

    The day dawned bright and still at Bonneville. Real "Go Fast" weather and the Flower was at the line ready to run as the lanes opened to qualifying.

    First pass with the rebuilt gearbox and she's feeling good and pulling strongly ... fourth gear and boogying on, we're through the two-mile speed trap at 200mph.

    But she's not got quite enough boost and I'm bouncing in the seat like an amateur go-kart racer trying to drag more speed out of her as she levels out at 240mph.

    Finally I click fifth and the final mile passes at 253mph, out the last speed trap (known as the 'Back Door' in Bonneville parlance) at 259.259mph and I'm qualified for an A license and free to run up to 300mph on the next pass. What's more, the Flower is in good shape and we turn her round in two hours to run again.

    The second run: despite a bit more boost, the Flower was still struggling to pull through fourth gear — our trailer-built engine not perfect, clearly — but this time we're through the final mile in 268mph and out the Back Door at 270mph. 435kph! Handing me the AA license and the right to run over 300mph.

    Both runs were a little exciting: on the first pass, I left the course after throwing the 'chute, doing over a mile on virgin salt before getting it back under control... as Dickie Meaden from Evo magazine described it, a "1 mile moment" and I passed close enough to the 5.25-mile marker that the chute took it out on the way past....

    Second run: I was ready for the chute to tug me one way or the other, so a "dab of oppo" at 270mph and had it under control, but once again, the 5.25-mile marker looked pretty nervous as I went by about six inches away!

    And of course, the idea of opposite locking a car at 270mph is pretty terrifying AFTER the event, although it's pure reactions at the time.

    Checking the car over after the second pass and fourth gear is broken in half, so no more running for us. But as it is, Bonneville on Friday morning was windy, so we couldn't have run anyway.

    Reflecting on an amazing week, lots of lows, then two fabulous passes at over 250mph. It's been amazing. I can assure readers that 270mph is VERY quick, even on Salt without many way markers to indicate the speed. Oh! And did I mention the car is constantly moving around, fills with methanol fumes during the pass, and is "quite entertaining" to get stopped!

    So we head back to the UK, but the crew is in much better mood than last year because we know, NEXT year, we can run straight at that 313mph record.

    What a week.

    Rick Pearson

    Caption: Speed Scotland driver Rick Pearson and Flower of Scotland reflect on what might have been … but already plans are in place for next year's bid to break the 313mph barrier.

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