On this day in history : 4th October 1983 – Scottish entrepreneur Richard Noble sets a new world land speed record of 663.5mph in his jet powered car Thrust 2, at Nevada’s Black Rock Desert….

Richard Noble (left) – Photo credit : Ian McWilliams CC BY 2.0

At the age of 6, whilst on a family holiday near Loch Ness, Noble had seen John Cobb’s Crusader jet boat being prepared for the water speed record…. It became his dream to attain the land speed record….

His dream was finally realised in 1983, on the parched earth of a dried up lake in the desert of Nevada…. His car, 27ft 4in in length, 8ft wide and 4ft 3in high, with a ground clearance of 5 inches, was designed by John Ackroyd…. It was powered by a Rolls Royce engine from an English Electric Lightning fighter jet….

A straight line was scorched into the hard earth using a propane torch, along the 12 mile long dried lake bed for Noble to follow…. Driving Thrust 2 at an average speed of 633mph over two runs he broke the previous record which had been held by Gary Gabelich for 13 years in his Blue Flame…. Each of Noble’s runs, at 10.5 miles long, took an average of 110 seconds…. The car took approximately 9 seconds to reach 200mph and 40 seconds to reach 600mph – using 60 gallons of fuel per minute….

Noble held the record until September 1997 – when it was broken by another of his cars, Thrust SSC…. This time the driver was Royal Air Force fighter pilot Andy Green – who reached a speed of 763mph….

Thrust 2 can now be seen at Coventry Transport Museum – after a fund raising effort to keep it in the UK when it came up for sale in 1991 – at a cost of £90,000….

Thrust 2 at Coventry Transport Museum – Photo : AJB83 at English Wikipedia – own work – Public domain

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