Project Runningblade sets new world land speed record – for a lawnmower
By LJ Hutchins
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
The fastest grass-cutter in history demonstrated its credentials on a Welsh beach this weekend to set not one but two world land speed records.
Don Wales, the grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, took Britain’s Project Runningblade into the record books by attaining a speed of 86.069 miles per hour on Saturday morning on his petrol-powered steed – and then beating it with a run that reached 87.833 mph on Sunday.
He achieved the feat of beating the standing record for a lawnmower at Pendine Sands, the venue where his grandfather set several world land speed records for a car in the 1920s.
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.
Behind him was a team, assembled by self-described lifelong petrolhead and eccentric Stephen Vokins who has worked at The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu for more than 25 years, taking aim at a record of 80.792mph set in the United States by Bob Cleveland in 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Mr Cleveland was present in Camarthenshire to witness the new record attempt.
The team said afterwards that running out of time had prevented them from achieving their hoped-for target of 100 mph – but that they were still delighted to have set a new record.
In order to make a record bid it is necessary to drive over a measured mile in one direction and return within an hour. The vehicle must be built primarily from lawnmower parts and still be capable of cutting grass.
Mr Volkins’ machine was based on three different mowers produced by Oxfordshire ride-on mower specialists Countax Ltd.
He came up with the idea of taking a crack at the record while recovering from major heart surgery, when he decided he wanted to do something spectacular with his new lease of life.
According to the Project Runningblade website, 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.
To learn more about Project Runningblade, or to donate to its chosen charities, visit its website here.