Saturday, August 21, 2010

Flower Of Scotland Streamliner Wilts At Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week

The Flower of Scotland is a 1 litre blown fuel streamliner. The streamliner is built to run in the I/BFS class of the So-Cal Timing associations Land Speed Racing at Bonneville on the Salt Flats. Image Credit: RickP, EVO Forum

Flower Of Scotland Streamliner Wilts At Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week

In one of the more publicized world land speed record attempts to be launched by a team from the British Isles, the Flower Of Scotland streamliner had a design and a plan that looked to have a real shot at the I/BFS record (I = sub 1-litre/ BFS = Blown, Fuel, Streamliner).

Stripped of its bodywork, this streamliner has the look of a rail-dragster ready for an attempt at a speed in the quarter mile. Aluminium front wheels mean the streamliner can only run on Salt which limits other competitive outings, but the Flower Of Scotland was built to do over 300mph in order to break the I/BFS record at 313mph. Image Credit: RickP, EVO Forum

The last, and most publicized attempt at a WLSR by a team from the British Isles was the British Steam Car Challenge (BSCC) effort last year at this time. On Tuesday, August 25, 2009, the BSCC established two world land speed records that had not been officially broken (reset) in over 100 years.

The official world land speed record (WLSR) for a steam-powered vehicle was originally set by the folks that created the Stanley Steamer (127.659 mph), with a specialized racer in 1906, where it sat on a shelf, only to be challenged once, unofficially in the mid-eighties at Bonneville with an adapted public transportation Lear steam engine (145.607 mph), until last summer.

The British Steam Car - Inspiration - on its first record-breaking run with Charles Burnett III on Rogers Dry Lake bed. The first photo shows the Steam Car at full speed on the first pass as it goes by a U.S. Air Force jet taxiing on an adjacent runway. The middle photo has the car through the middle of the second pass where it reached a speed of over 151mph. The last photo shows the British Steam Car as it completes its challenge to break the World Land Speed Record for the measured mile. [ctrl-click photo to launch BBC Video of record breaking run!] Images Credit: BSCC via BBC Video

The British Steam Car Challenge (BSCC) broke the WLSR for a steam-powered vehicle with a custom multiple (12) boiler engine settled into a British Racing Green Bonneville style racer, and after over five years of testing and development, attained two World Land Speed Records and one unofficial fastest top speed were established by the British Steam Car Challenge (BSCC), in the Rogers Dry Lake Bed (Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave, California). 139.843 mph by Charles Burnett III for the measured mile, 148.308 mph by Don Wales for the measured kilometer, and an unofficial fastest top speed ever set for a human-driven steam-powered vehicle of over 155mph set by Don Wales.

The Speed Scotland team and the Flower Of Scotland streamliner as it readies itself for the 2010 Bonneville Speed Week ahead. Image Credit: RickP, EVO Forum

This year, a Scottish team expressed its determination to beat the one-liter engine displacement world land speed record, when it showed up to compete in the Salt Flats of Utah at Bonneville Speed Week held from Friday to Friday on August 13-20, 2010.

The team named 'Flower of Scotland' was driven by 23-year-old Derek Palmer and 35-year-old Rick Pearson and managed by Palmer's father, Derek Sr., participated in the one-liter supercharged category in the streamliner car.

This team has been competing for sometime and won various British and European championships, including the last FIA European Michelin Supertouring Championship in 2001.

Rick Palmer as he sits in the cockpit of the Flower Of Scotland for the first time on the salt flats of Bonneville, Utah. Image Credit: RickP, EVO Forum

The car, which is described as an 'extremely tight fit', involves the driver having to lie flat and slide up the seat to jam his head into a roll cage. The controls consist of only a steering wheel with a CO2 power shift button, two parachute levers, three fire extinguisher levers, accelerator, clutch, and brake.

Speaking to the BBC about the Speed Scotland team, Team Manager Derek Palmer Sr. said 'Flower of Scotland' was packed with advanced technology.

"It is a wheel driven car which drives as a conventional car through the axles, not with a jet engine, and it is 1,000cc. The technology is all in getting the thing to push as little air to the side as possible and for there to be little rolling resistance," The BBC quoted Derek Palmer Sr..

"It is absolutely tiny - the car is only 22in wide and its less than 3ft high so it is the height of someone lying on their back.

It is as small as it possibly can be to make as little a hole in the air as possible," Derek Sr. added.

The Flower Of Scotland as it just about ready for a push and its first run on the salt at Bonneville, Utah. Image Credit: RickP, EVO Forum

This excerpted and edited from postings placed by RickP at the EVO Forum (all times reflected are times posted in Scotland) -

EVO heading for 300mph!

August 14, 2010 12:36 PM | Posted By: RickP

Well its 5am Saturday morning and today we head to the Salt for Rookie orientation and the drivers briefing.....

Tech inspection went well, we were in line around 11.30 and got finished just after 3pm which I'm told isn't too bad as things go...

my responsibilities were just to demonstrate to the safety crews that I knew the exact procedure to walk thru in an emergency, so fire chute 1 (high speed), then chute 2 (low speed), fire bottle 1, fire bottle 2, pop the belts, lift the canopy, wriggle free then fire the final fire bottle as I bailed over the side.

They are mostly looking for a lack of panic and to be honest, after the traditional Promotorsport pit stop which involves me being thrown half way across the pit lane, it was pretty tame!

So today we run... not that nervous... speeds won't be too high today and the car seems user friendly, hoping to complete 2 Rookie passes (150-175 ish and 175-200 ish) but the queue to run has been known to reach 8 hours long!

August 15, 2010 6:31 AM | Posted By: RickP

When was the last time you got into a car which you'd never driven, never even put into gear or turned the wheel away from the dead ahead, and fired it from 0 to 170mph in the space of 1 mile?

Throw in a track surface you not only don't know, but also don't really understand, and wheel technology that eliminates the need for tyres???

Then add in a cabin pressure issue that meant fumes were entering the cockpit and making your eyes water, and vibrations so bad that for 80% of the run you were basically only seeing blurs?

That pretty much sums up our first run down the Salt today and as you can imagine it was a full-on sensory overload!!!

The mission for today was to complete 2 licence passes, the first between 125mph and 150mph, the second in the 150mph to 175mph band, however due to the fact I basically couldn't read the tacho nor the gear selection indicator due to the fumes and the vibration, I actually made my first pass at 170mph! This DID NOT go down well with the Rookie supervisors here at Bonneville and I was given a dressing down and sent back to do it again.

Fortunately after making some changes we eliminated all these problems, ran a shake-down at 105mph to check the mods and then a pass at 127mph to be awarded our first 2 licences!

Tomorrow, a pass in the 175mph-200mph band and then we're free to run as fast as we like and start building towards the 313mph record we're chasing...

August 16, 2010 6:14 AM | Posted By: RickP

Well they say Land Speed Racing is a tough sport and today wasn't much fun...

after the 3 passes yesterday we stripped the car down first thing to prep for today's activities and found some nasties in the front suspension. With safety paramount of course we set very high standards and so we took most of the morning out to get the set-up absolutely right....

then a couple of big (260mph) accidents on the long course pushed the queues for a run back a way (both drivers walked away) and it was 4pm as we came to the line...

the long course looked superb, 3 miles of salt visible before the mirage appeared to show water beyond, the mountain at the end of the track "floating"...

a good push start and instantly the improvement in the handling was obvious.. but as I fired the shifter for 2nd gear a loud rattle signified all wasn't well and I punched the chute and turned off the course...

A dog tooth broken off first gear had jammed the 'box and split the casing wide open... so as g/box is integral to the engine, this means a full engine swap before we run again tomorrow...

Such is racing....

August 17, 2010 5:24 AM | Posted By: RickP

A long day on the Salt in the heat waiting for the engine change to be completed... scalding hot as well with one of the panels of the car left in the sun hitting around 80 deg C... yup easy egg frying territory!

Finally hit the startline around 5pm and with permission to run between 175 and 200mph I put down a second mile at 200.213 and had to pull the chutes before the 3 mile mark as the car was racing on towards 250 and I didn't fancy another interview with the race director!!!

But all seems good with the new engine and we prepped the car for the next run but just ran out of time before the Salt shut for the night at 7... so first thing tomorrow we get to run the 200-250mph bracket and then hopefully we'll get a crack at the 250-300mph pass so we can start thinking about that 313mph record!

Fingers crossed we don't hit a technical hitch as we've got her running straight and true and I'm really comfortable both in, and with, the car now so feeling pretty good!

Fingers crossed, we're getting closer!

August 18, 2010 12:49 AM | Posted By: RickP

Disaster struck the Flower of Scotland, as the first pass saw a chain thrown, then a second run saw the gearbox explode.
Those of you who are following us closely will know that this is the second gearbox and our last spare motor (gearbox is integral to the motor).

So it's all over.

The dream dies here for 2010.

Or does it? We've got transmission parts in Houston and we're desperately trying to get UPS to ship them out tonight, and we've got a guy in LA who is machining new transmission cases for us as we speak...

so I"m off back to Salt Lake, flight to John Wayne airport at 9.45pm, then back the other way at 6.45am hopefully with the parts we need to see the "Flower" fly again before the Salt closes Friday lunchtime...

Fingers crossed crew....
In a grotty hotel on the West Coast waiting for my flight back, but I've a newly machined engine casing in my "hand" luggage which is what we need... gearbox internals are on the UPS o/n so fingers crossed we could be running again Thursday... but if we do, it'll be with the wick turned right up... Never surrender!
Just landed back in Salt Lake with half a motorbike in my hand luggage!!! We're not done yet by a long way ...

August 19, 2010 3:04 AM | Posted By: RickP

Well folks, you can imagine how fresh I feel after less than 3 hours sleep in at Santa Ana hotel last night and while I returned with all the parts we thought we needed, stripping down the remains of the original 2 engines showed that actually the damage was much more severe than we thought.

The crankshaft's and bearings on both engines had been destroyed in the brief seconds after the cases exploded in the gearboxes and the oil pressure dropped. SO we simply don't have enough parts to build one good engine.

However, the Speed racing community have rallied around us, and legendary Salt Bike racer, Joe Amo has offered to get on a plane from his South Dakota workshop and fly up tonight with what we need...

So the Speed Scotland team have decamped from the Salt (where you aren't allowed to work beyond 8pm) to the car park of a Casino in nearby Wendover and we've prepped the car and engine parts we have to pull an "all-nighter" once Joe gets here at midnight to be back out on the Salt early tomorrow!

The fight goes on....
It's 7am Thursday, and we HAVE AN ENGINE... although not in the car yet... these things don't always run smoothly and it's been a long a tough build night so far for the boys... but we'll get back out there... only problem, it's raining slightly so we're a little fearful for the Salt... going to need some luck!

August 20, 2010 4:14 AM | Posted By: RickP

The Salt can be a tough mistress, but to be honest she’s virtually killing us here.

Another tough day. We had the engine back together for 7.30am after working all night once Joe Amo (fastest guy ever on a sit-on motorbike at 272mph!) arrived with the parts we were missing. One shift of mechanics went to bed, and another woke to put the engine in the car. This was completed around 11.30 and we were confident of being on the Salt for early afternoon. However on firing the engine up, we realized she was running badly and needed some pretty major open heart surgery. Including more parts we didn’t have!

Once again it looked like it was all over, and once again the Salt community managed to source us what we needed and the engine was finished by 5pm.

Panels back on and we whipped the car down to the Salt from the Casino car park HQ we’ve been using. Unfortunately the wind was pretty marginal for safety but we decided to make a pass anyway in a lull.

The Flower of Scotland went off the line well, but lost power within the first mile.

A quick investigation threw up another small failure in the transmission, clearly the destruction of the 2 engines so far this week had shaken stuff up more than we thought... but this time fortunately it was a quick fix... but not quickly enough to turn the car around for another run at the Salt tonight.

So we have one last chance in the morning: the car has been geared so that if it makes it the 5 miles down the Salt and I can keep my foot to the boards, we SHOULD run the record.

We’ll be on the Salt for sun up, and fingers crossed our luck will finally come good. It certainly feels like we’ve paid our dues...... the crew are pretty down, but we're not beaten yet.
The EDJE at 5:05 AM 20 August 2010

If The Flower Of Scotland is able to get the two run WLSR in and set the mark ... it will be a Hollywood ending to a study in perseverance ... otherwise it is a grand story of the camaraderie that exists when like-minded people come together with a common goal. Either way it is a story of deep human interest. God Speed and All The Best!
RickP at 6:00 PM 20 August 2010

It's all over. The was to be no fairytale ending.

We turned up the boost and geared her for the record. Jeez, we even had our engine guy lead us in a swift prayer! The wind was up and conditions marginal but she went off the line well, but when the full force of the turbo kicked in the engine we built in the Casino car park cried enough.

Gutted right now. Had spent 3 days readying myself for the 300mph pass and now I'm crashing off the adrenaline.
With just 1 hour left in Speed Week our dream was over for this year and the crew are all shattered and pretty dejected, sitting here in the airport in silence.
FellRunner at 11:09 PM 20 August 2010

JOK is aware of what you've been doing this week, and as someone who has been fascinated by speed record breaking for years, it's been very exciting to follow the week's events.

Sorry the cumulative mechanical problems stopped you going for the record, but what you've done is bloody impressive!

Even thought you've clearly done a lot of racing, to step into (metaphorically!) a car for the first time and push it up to 170mph... well, I don't have a hat worthy of taking off to you!
Reference Here>>

The "Flower" may have wilted in the sun and the salt at Bonneville, Utah, but the competitive spirit of the "Salt community" and your team grew in the hearts and minds of all of those who tuned in to your team Speed Scotland effort through your posts.

'Till next year then, when you all will be back ... back to set a new mark in the pursuit of a one-liter engine displacement world land speed record at the 2011 Bonneville Speed Week - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 12:00am - Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 11:55pm!

... notes from The EDJE

1 comment:

  1. Bad luck last yearIdid not know anyone from Scotland was attempting this record sposer money is available my e-mail is tamblackwood @@ please get in touch
    All the best
    Tom Blackwood