Another British land speed record – this time on a lawnmower
By LJ Hutchins
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
The glamour, the adrenaline, the waiting place in the history books – there’s something very special about a land speed record as one British team is currently hoping to prove.
Even when your steed of choice is a lawnmower. Driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell’s grandson.
No, this is not a stunt by Top Gear and James May is in no way involved. It is a magnificently eccentric and yet deadly serious world record attempt.
In less than a month, Project Runningblade will be attempting to break the 100mph barrier on Pendine Sands in Camarthenshire – the site of Campbell’s 1925 record attempt and many subsequent ones.
The machine has been developed in the face of considerable technical challenges with the help of ride-on mower specialists Countax and a recent test (see YouTube clip above) saw it reach estimated speeds of around 65mph.
The target is to smash the record set by American Bob Cleveland in 2006 at another customary venue for such things – the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
His home-made lawnmower reached nearly 81 miles per hour, thus setting the threshold for the latest British bid, and he has sent his good wishes to the team.
The scheme was the brainchild of team principal Stephen Vokins, 49, who describes himself as an eccentric and a lifelong petrolhead, and who has worked at The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu for more than 25 years.
According to the project’s website he thought it up while recovering from major heart surgery with the aim of doing something spectacular with his new lease of life.
He decided the project had the twin attractions of providing a worthwhile challenge and of raising money for two charities that are important to him, the Wessex Heartbeat cardiac care organisation, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The team he assembled to take the project on includes Don Wales, the grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald Campbell, who will be in the driving seat.
The 49-year-old has already contested the world electric-powered land speed record several times and was also part of the British Steam Car’s recent successful bid to break the steam-powered land speed record.
A crucial part of the project will involve, on the same day that it makes its speed attempt, demonstrating that the machine is still capable of cutting grass.
There’s lots you can do to support the bid – by making a donation to its nominated charities, by sending your good wishes via its online guestbook or by sponsoring the team. After all, how often will you have the chance to be involved in a British land speed record attempt?