Breaking a land speed record is never a straightforward endeavour, but the difficulty extends far beyond the challenge of engineering a vehicle capable of such immense speeds. Following its successful 200mph run at Newquay Airport last year, news that a planned 500mph run on Bloodhound's Hakskeen Pan drag strip had been pushed back to 2019 didn't necessarily look like a harbinger of things to come. Now, though, it seems that it is the financial side of the British record attempt that is proving problematic, rather than the physical one.
It is believed that for the Bloodhound SSC to hit that 500mph speed in South Africa would cost the team in the region of £5 million. To reach 800mph requires £15 million and, to succeed in its goal of breaking the 1,000mph barrier, a total of £25 million is needed. Needless to say, these sums are far more than the team currently has available, and beyond the reach of even the most well intentioned of crowdfunding campaigns.
They needn't, however, be so overwhelming to investors when viewed in context. As Andrew Sheridan, Partner at administrator FRP Advisory puts it, "the £25m Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in an F1 season, or running an America's Cup team. This is an opportunity for the right investor to leave a lasting legacy."
Despite its current predicament, the Bloodhound team remains positive about its future. "We wouldn't choose to be in this position," one insider told Autocar, "but we're greatly encouraged by the behaviour of the administrator. They recognise that we're unique, and that we've already built a great deal of global exposure. They say they wouldn't take us on if they weren't confident of a good outcome. The dream scenario is that we'll be in this state for a month or six weeks, then money will flow again and we can get back into action. We're ready to go."
Should investment be found, the team, lead by former land-speed record holder Richard Noble, would need around 10 months to ready itself for its first South African runs. Currently just 5 members strong, around three times that number would be required for the 500mph attempt, with closer to 40 people needed to break the 1,000mph barrier.
Luckily, Sheridan seems confident, describing Bloodhound as, "a truly groundbreaking project that has built a global audience and helped inspire a new generation of STEM talent in the UK" he added, "we are already in discussion with a number of potential investors and would encourage any other interested party to contact us without delay." Fingers crossed that a solution can be found, it'd be an awful shame never to see the Bloodhound take its shot at the record books.