The 800mph Jet Car

North American Eagle Jet Car

Suddenly your $40-$50 bill to fill up gas every other week won’t look so bad once you take the wheel of the North American Eagle, a 42,500bhp jet car with everything it takes to smash the land speed record. (pics)

The 800mph Jet Car

Last week the team behind a joint American-Canadian attempt to win the world record back from the British launched an open contest to find that person. Those not put off by Richard Hammond’s recent brush with a jet car are welcome to apply, provided they are between 20 and 40 years of age and have relevant experience in motor racing, flying or other extreme sports (clocking up speed-camera points doesn’t count).

The 800mph Jet Car

A parachute is deployed to slow the speeding vehicle

Photogenic features would help in the team’s effort to attract sponsorship. So far applicants have included two pilots and a handful of boy racers. The field is wide open.

“When you throttle this car up, you know you’re going for a ride,” says Ed Shadle, 66, co-owner and creator of the North American Eagle (NAE), who is reluctantly giving up the driver’s seat. “It’s a lot of fun to drive. But if my age is stopping us getting sponsors, we have to remove that barrier. We’ll put some hotshot in the driving seat who looks like Robert Redford and see how that works.”

Whoever drives the car, Shadle can take much of the credit for creating the streamlined red speed machine out of the rusty, graffiti-scrawled remains of a 1957 Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jet, bought for $25,000 (£12,500) from a scrapyard in 1998.

 The 800mph Jet Car

Ted Shadle The North American Eagle Land Speed Record team.

The transformation has taken Shadle, an amateur motor racing driver and former American air force pilot, and Keith Zanghi, a Boeing engineer, more than a decade of work in a rented aircraft hangar near Seattle. Their project has received funding and parts from companies in the United States and Canada but Shadle has also spent more than $150,000 of his own money to pursue his dream.

At the root of this 10-year struggle lies an enduring dent in America’s national pride. Despite being the home of some of the fastest, biggest and most expensive machines on the planet, America has failed for more than a decade to reclaim the land speed record from the limeys across the pond.

US teams held the record for almost 20 years from 1964 (the year that Donald Campbell set it – and then almost immediately lost it again) until Richard Noble won it for Britain in 1983. In 1997 Andy Green, an RAF fighter pilot, became the first person to drive faster than the speed of sound. He used the Thrust SSC, a car built and designed by British engineers. And to rub salt into the wound the Brits broke the record on American soil, most recently in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

The North American Eagle is on a mission to put America back on top, but although the car has been built and designed in America, the team is willing to go global in search of the right kind of driving talent.

Via the Times Online