This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

It Only Took 100 Years – From 39 to 630


October 23, 1970: Gabelich Sets LSR of 630 MPH

The Blue Flame was the rocket-powered vehicle driven by Gary Gabelich that achieved the world land speed record of 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in October of 1970. Blue Flame was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Reaction Dynamics.


Some Historic Perspective

In 1898 Gaston de Chasselouop-Laubat set the land speed record at 39.24 mph.


About 10 years later in 1909, the record was up to 125 mph in a Benz No 1 “Blitzen Benz” racing car.


1925 saw 150 mph in the Sunbeam 350HP.

21f4af2cd38720c1481969742ccc6c56 sunbeam-350hp2


By 1937 the record jumped to an amazing 345 mph in George Eyston’s Thunderbolt.


1947 saw 394 mph in John Cobb’s Railton Mobil Special


About 100 years after Gaston, Gary Galbelich went 630.388 mph

vladimir_novak_blue_flame_gary_gabelich2p gary_gabelich_portrait

The actual engine thrust during the record runs was between 13,000 pounds and 15,000 pounds equivalent of 35,000 horsepower. The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches long, 8 feet 1.5 inches high to the top of the tail fin , 7 feet 8 inches wide. The wheelbase is 25.5 feet. It has an empty weight of 4,000 pounds and is approximately 6,600 pounds fully fueled and loaded. The Blue Flame is now on permanent exhibition at the Auto- and Technik Museum Sinsheim in Germany.


The record stood until…

The record set by Blue Flame wasn’t broken until 13 years later on October 4, 1983 by Richard Noble driving his turbojet-powered Thrust2 at 633.468 mph. Only 3 mph . . . pssst.


That record stood until Thrust SSC went supersonic in 1997, raising it to 760.343 mph (1,223.653 km/h).



BTW:  The speed of sound is 343.2 meters per second (1,126 ft/s) or about 768 mph.

The Blue Flame at Bonneville

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