12:28am Saturday 23rd March 2013
By Matt Westcott
RICHARD Noble OBE, was behind the wheel when Thrust 2 broke the World Land Speed Record in 1983. The jet propelled car reached a speed of 650.88mph at Black Rock Desert in Nevada, beating the old mark of 633.4mph.
The Scottish entrepreneur was also behind the ThrustSSC project, the supersonic car driven by Andy Green, which broke the record once again in 1997, achieving a speed of 763.035 mph or Mach 1.02.
Richard is aiming to push the boundaries still further with his next project, the Bloodhound SSC, which hopes to break the 1,000mph barrier. The project is involving schools up and down the country by encouraging an interest in science and engineering – so far 5,309 UK schools have signed on. More details on the project can be found at www.Bloodhoundssc.com or you can follow Richard on Twitter @RichardNobleSSC or visit his website www.richard-noble.com.
What was your first car?
My first car was an SS Jaguar saloon 1936 bought off a Guildford scrapyard for £15. I rebuilt the engine when the big end went - it was a wonderful bird puller. It gradually lost gears as the gearbox decayed and this meant driving was difficult as we lost reverse and had to keep moving forward . I sold it for £30 to a bloke with a spare gearbox!
How many times did it take to pass your test?
I passed first time with a lady tester in Guildford who had a ferocious reputation for failing all first time triers. Her most memorable comment: “Come on Mr Noble can we try fourth gear now!” I was taught by the one and only Mr Hadley of Haslemere who had a Morris 1000 with two steering wheels – this meant you could start driving with just the steering. Hadley was a great success until he met his match when an enthusiastic septuagenarian steered him into the local graveyard wall.
Who would be your ideal fantasy passenger and where would you go?
My fantasy passenger would be Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. I met him years ago and he took a great shine to the Bloodhound project and spent a day with us. We used to email each other, but sadly he is no longer with us .
What is your dream car?
That would have to be the Bloodhound SSC. Our teams have held the World Land Speed Record for 29 years now and Bloodhound includes everything we have ever learned. It’s a truly wonderful project and the car is coming together in Bristol as I write this. The quality is quite something and 197 companies are making parts. It’s got 133,000 horsepower, reaches 1,000mph in 50-odd seconds and trails a massive flame from the rocket motor - so it’s not really suitable for the M6!
How would you describe your driving style?
Careful, but determined.
Tell me one driving anecdote from your past?
We were once towing my Thrust 1 jet car across London behind a Ford Cortina early on Sunday morning to avoid police interest . We failed. Copper: “What in God’s name is that?” Me: “It’s a jet car officer”. Copper: “Why are you towing it?” Me: ”Because the jet engine doesn’t run yet.” Copper: “Where are you going?” Me: “To Turnham Green.” Copper: “OK well get on with it and if you are stopped again you didn’t get my number!”
What is playing on your in car iPod or CD player at the moment?
I found a brilliant box set of CDs of 60s music. Lots of Bob Dylan and The Shadows.
What do you drive now?
I have a real problem with speed and I have to drive 1,000 miles-a-week. So I drive a Golf Mk5 TSI which is unbreakable and has now done 163,000 Bloodhound miles. But my private car is a 1995 Lotus Elan which has the best roadholding and handling I have ever come across –an absolutely brilliant car and the right size for Britain’s roads.
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