Monday, August 15, 2011

'Reborn' Bluebird fails to break British electric speed record as wheel falls off in attempt by Sir Malcolm Campbell's great-grandson

An attempt by two members of Sir Malcolm Campbell's family to break the UK electric land speed record failed today after a wheel fell off their car.
Don Wales, Sir Malcolm's grandson, and his son Joe, alongside their Bluebird team, had hoped to break the current 137mph barrier and reach 150mph at Pendine Sands in South Wales.
But when Joe, 19, was performing a run along the sands as he attempted to set his own record in the car, the right front wheel sheered off.
Failure: The Bluebird electric car, driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell's great-grandson Joe Wales, veers off course during his attempt to set a British speed record in an electric car
Failure: The Bluebird electric car, driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell's great-grandson Joe Wales, veers off course during his attempt to set a British speed record in an electric car
Dream team: Joe and Don Wales are pictured before the run and are the third and fourth generations of the Campbell family to attempt land speed records
Dream team: Joe and Don Wales are pictured before the run and are the third and fourth generations of the Campbell family to attempt land speed records
The sheering on the front right wheel caused a suspension failure
A mechanic removes the broken wheel from the car
Mechanical failure: The front right wheel of the car sheered off during Joe's run, causing suspension failure on the car
This caused a suspension failure and the teenager came to halt as the car sank into the sand.
Joe was unhurt in the incident, but both he and his father looked dejected when the car was winched onto a tailed and taken away.
Later Don Wales explained that Bluebird was damaged after his son veered off the course due to poor visibility.
 
'We still need to debrief Joe properly but first indications are that the visibility from the cockpit has always been a problem and when you're that low and on a beach with severe vibrations, it is very easy to lose your way in any vehicle,' he said.
'When you've got the speed and the vibrations Joe just lost his way and he ended up off the course in the potholes.
'When you can't see the ground in front of you for 60 metres or 70 metres you're in trouble before you've seen it.
'It's just one of those unfortunate things. The safety of Joe is paramount.'
Ready to go: Joe is strapped into the car and discusses some final tactics with his father before going on the run
Ready to go: Joe is strapped into the car and discusses some final tactics with his father before going on the run
Joe begins his run in the Bluebird
Building up speed: Joe steers the car along the flat Pendine Sands before the wheel sheered off
Building up speed: Joe steers the car along the flat Pendine Sands before the wheel sheered off
Blue missile: The electric car flies along the beach, but was unable to break the record on any run before the incident with the wheel
Blue missile: The electric car flies along the beach, but was unable to break the record on any run before the incident with the wheel
Don said that he hoped this was not the end of Bluebird and he hoped to be able to make further record attempts.
'I hope it's not the end of the story, we are a small team and severely struggling with finance,' he said.
'This is a severe knock to us but it's immaterial to us because Joe is fine and that was always my worry.
'It's his first go and it's a hard learning process. Records aren't broken every day or easily.
'We're alive to fight another day. We'll see what's wrong with the car and see if we can fix it.
'In my heart I want to come back and fight another day. It's still unfinished business but I've got to let my head do some thinking.
'The heart says "yes, let's have another go".'
Wheeled away: Members of the Bluebird team push their car away from the scene following the mechanical failure
Wheeled away: Members of the Bluebird team push their car away from the scene following the mechanical failure
Assessing the damage: Members of the group look at the car after the incident destroyed the suspension
Assessing the damage: Members of the group look at the car after the incident destroyed the suspension
A disappointed Joe also explained what went wrong.
'Basically as I was going along the course, I was going pretty well and I got good speed up and visibility deteriorated and I just couldn't see the course,' he said.
'The next thing I knew the car was airborne and bouncing and then it just smashed into the ground and dug in and water and sand just poured into the cockpit.
The teenager said he was sad that the land speed attempt ended so suddenly.
'I feel so disappointed and everyone's worked so hard over the last few months,' he said.
'I really wanted to get a record and I've come away with nothing. I'm just really sorry for everyone and I'm disappointed myself.
'I'm not going to let this beat me and I'll be back for another go.'
The car is 7m in length, 1.4m wide and has a height on 1.3m
Joe became the fourth generation of the Campbell family to pursue record-breaking.
His great-grandfather Sir Malcolm broke the world land speed record nine times.
He also set a record in 1924 at Pendine Sands, where he set a then-fastest speed in a combustion engine of 146mph.
The Bluebird team was hoping to use this weekend's trials to test the technology behind the super-fast car and to build a new electric vehicle for an attempt on the world speed record in two years' time.
They want to hit 500mph and pass the 307mph record set by the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 team last year.
This would also beat the wheel-driven record, which stands from 2001 at 458mph.

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