It's official. Bloodhound SSC will finally make a run at South Africa’s Hakskeen Pan later this year, but don’t get your hopes up on watching a world land speed record attempt just yet. This planned pass will be a shakedown run only.

The supersonic project was first announced in 2008, and was initially scheduled to make its official record run in 2011, but funding issues have seen many postponements over the past ten years. The British team, which also holds the current land speed record at 1228km/h with another car called Thrust SSC, has now secured enough sponsorship to finish the car, but has yet to pin down a date for the official attempt at 1000mph (1610 km/h).

This most recent announcement follows a successful first outing for Bloodhound, which reached 200mph (320km/h) at a runway trial in the UK this past October, but hopes to up the ante to 500mph (804km/h) at the Northern Cape’s Hakskeen Pan this coming October.

The team says this speed represents a key milestone in development, as it’s at this velocity where the car is at its most vulnerable. It’s here where the stability of the 13.5 metre-long, pencil-shaped land missile transitions from an interaction between the wheels and the pan’s surface, and the built in aerodynamics. In other words, at 500mph Bloodhound morphs from car into aeroplane.

Bloodhound’s 95kg solid aluminium wheels will never actually lose contact with the ground (hence “land” speed record), but where they dig into the pan’s dry clay by up to 25mm at standstill, they’ll start to rise up off the ground as speed increases - much like a speedboat skimming across the water. At a top speed of mach 1.4 the wheels will spin at 10 200rpm, or four times faster than those on an F1 car.

Bloodhound’s propulsion comes from both a jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon aeroplane and a Nammo rocket which will be released sequentially, but for this trial only the Rolls Royce jet engine will be used. It alone provides a peak thrust of 90 kilonewtons, or the combined output of around 360 family cars.

The Hakskeen Pan track in the Northern Cape has been under continuous preparation over the past decade, and in that time over 16 000 tons of rock and stone have been removed by hand to smooth the surface. The track is 19km long and 500m wide, making for a total surface area of 22 million square metres - the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event.

This year’s upcoming test run has been labelled the “Bloodhound 500” and the event will be open to a number of fans and supporters. There are 500 ‘All Access’ tickets available with the first set aside for project sponsors and Gold 1K club members who are required to pay a membership fee of 75 pounds (R420).

These club members will then need to pay a deposit of 500 pounds (R8400) to secure a spot and then pay a balance of between 2500 and 5000 pounds (R42 000 - R84 000) depending on ticket packages.

For more information visit the Bloodhound website.

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