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Engineer revs up land speed attempt

Published 25/05/2015

Richard Brown and the Jet Reaction jetbike
Richard Brown and the Jet Reaction jetbike

An engineer says he is ready to ride at up to 450mph in order to break a world land speed record - but insists he is not a thrillseeker.

Richard Brown, 50, will make his third attempt at the two-wheeled record in September when he attempts to break the 376.363mph speed set by American Rocky Robinson in 2010.

He will strap himself into the Jet Reaction, which is powered by a 1,250 horsepower helicopter engine - with an afterburner - to scream across the Bonneville salt flats in Utah to try to break through the 400mph barrier.

After completing tests at Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire this weekend, he said he was most interested in the "technical challenge" of building the bike, but the record is held by the driver, not the engineer.

"I'm most certainly not a thrillseeker," he said.

"I have no particular desire to drive it but I will drive it because it is part of the project."

Mr Brown admits there are echoes of the tradition of the old-fashioned British amateur inventor about his project. He runs his own business buying and selling machine parts in south Oxfordshire and has a team of volunteers helping him with the motorcycle.

He said the amount it was costing sometimes felt like a "bottomless pit" but added that it was a drop in the ocean in motorsport terms. He suggested that Bloodhound SSC, the well-backed project to set an overall land speed record in excess of 1,000mph, would run through his total budget in a few days.

Brown's previous two attempts at records peaked in 1999 with the Gillette Mach 3 Challenger which recorded a n average speed of 332.877mph at Bonneville - but the time is based on two passes, and technical and track problems prevented the second attempt.

He wants to see a British name on the record for the first time in seven decades.

He said: "1937 was the last time a Brit held the two-wheeled land speed record. The Americans have dominated it ever since.

"I believe that we have done our homework in that the vehicle is proving to be extremely reliable."

The test at Pendine was not the fastest test run for Jet Reaction, at 160mph, Mr Brown said, and running on three wheels instead of two. But it gives him the practice at running off-tarmac that is needed before the team heads to the Utah salt flats.

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