Though the ultimate goal was always to break the international land speed record for diesel-powered cars, which stood to American Virgil Snyder at 235.756mph, JCB DIESELMAX would challenge for an American national record since its test runs were conducted at Bonneville Speed Week prior to its week of running for the international mark. The first success came on August 18th 2006, Andy Green took the car on its return run through the timing traps to cement a new American national record of 317.021mph.
Bonneville Salt Flats
The following week, on August 22nd, he did two runs at 324mph and 342mph for a new international speed record of 328.767mph. The private target within the team had always been 350mph, and this Green reached on August 23rd. Two runs of 365mph and 335mph took him fractionally over target speed, with another new international mark of 350.092mph, which is where the diesel record currently stands.
It has always been a family tradition that the way to make progress is by seeking new challenges, pushing back the boundaries and moving forward with a real sense of urgency. What we achieved at Bonneville was incredible, a truly world-beating performance. The project showed JCB’s complete commitment to innovation and to never standing still. JCB DIESELMAX is the perfect embodiment of our ‘can-do spirit’; a spirit that permeates JCB and that has enabled us to demonstrate just what British engineering can do on the world stage.
Britain has an illustrious heritage of endeavour in the realm of land speed record breaking, thanks to the efforts in the pioneering years of men such as L.G. Hornsted, Ernest Eldridge, Kenelm Lee Guinness, Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave, John Godfrey Parry Thomas, Malcolm Campbell, George Eyston and John Cobb. Land speed racing developed an appeal all of its own, both for its participants and, particularly in the years between the two world wars, expectant nations. Segrave and Campbell were knighted for their achievements. It was, nevertheless, a cold-blooded game. Man against nature and man against himself, with none of the adrenaline rush of wheel-to-wheel competition.
In the postwar generation came Campbell’s son, Donald. Where his intrepid forebears had steered their streamlined chargers into uncharted territory in search of ultimate speed, pushing the limits and raising the speeds from 120mph to 200mph, then 250mph to 350mph, he pushed his famed Bluebird through the 400mph barrier. Later still, Richard Noble took up the cudgels in the jet turbine era. On Nevada’s Black Rock Desert on October 4th 1983 he drove his Thrust2 to 633.468mph. That record in turn fell to fellow Englishman Andy Green at 714.144mph on September 25th 1997, in Noble’s ThrustSSC supersonic contender. On October 15th that year Green became the only man ever to go through the sound barrier on land with 763.035mph. That record has never been challenged.