Entries in Car (5)


Supersonic Car Designed to Become World's Fastest

The Bloodhound Project(LONDON) -- The Bloodhound is so fast, its creators needed to reinvent the wheel.

Officially dubbed the Bloodhound SSC -- short for supersonic car -- the pencil-shaped racer is meant to become the fastest car in the world and the first to reach 1,000 miles per hour -- faster than a speeding bullet. A car that fast doesn't just run on tires. It runs on 200-pound circles of aerospace aluminum that can absorb 50,000 times the force of gravity.

"We will have pushed back the boundaries of human endeavor," driver Andy Green, who flies fighter jets as a wing commander in the Royal Air Force in his spare time, told ABC News.

The car's statistics are mind-boggling. The engine is a combination rocket (designed by a 28-year-old self-trained rocketeer), race car engine and fighter jet afterburner that generates six times more power than all the cars in an Indy car race combined.

Individually, many pieces of the Bloodhound have appeared in race cars or missiles before. But the rocket is one-of-a-kind and the pieces have never been combined -- which is why the creators don't know what will happen when the engine is fired up for the first time in western England Wednesday.

"It's a proper mashup of technologies. Formula One technology, military and defense technology, rocket technology which is unique -- and putting all that together is a big challenge," said Pio Szyjanowicz of Cosworth, the company that created the Bloodhound's control system and Formula One engine and makes engines for U.S. Navy drones. "Tomorrow will be a step into the unknown for all of us."

Szyjanowicz acknowledged that while the experiment is expected to work, the risk is large: "We could end up with a big empty space where the rocket and engine used to be."

Here's how you get to 1,000 miles an hour in a 40-foot-long titanium and carbon-fiber car, which the organizers say have taken 30 man-years to perfect:

First, a jet engine from a Eurofighter aircraft -- which is significantly faster than the U.S. Air Force's F-18 Hornet -- accelerates the car to about 300 miles per hour in about 15 seconds.

Green then starts filling the rocket with high test peroxide fuel. So much fuel is needed (one ton in 20 seconds) that the pump to supply it is actually a Formula One engine. The pump technology, Szyjanowicz said, is usually found in an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Green then pushes a button that fills the rocket with fuel and allows it to hit full power. He accelerates from 350 mph to 1,050 in 25 seconds. He maintains that speed for one mile (it only takes him 3.5 seconds to cover the distance) and then he shuts down the rocket, hits the brakes and deploys a parachute designed to decelerate him from 1,050 to zero in 40 seconds. He'll cover 12 miles in 2 minutes.

"You don't feel speed. You feel the acceleration, how quickly you get there," Green said. "Kind of like a fairly aggressive roller coaster ride."

Perhaps only Green would describe a deceleration that will subject him to three times the force of gravity as "fairly aggressive." He has been flying jets for 20 years, and in 1997 became the first person to break sound barrier in a car when he set the current land speed record of 763 miles an hour.

To train for this project, Green has been driving race cars and flying aerobatic aircraft on the weekends. He insists that because of the nature of the rocket, he isn't concerned about his safety.

"This is an optimal way to produce something very safe and very controllable," he said.

Still, it's not just any day that you sit below a jet engine louder than a 747, twice as hot as the inside of a volcano, producing so much force it could suck all the air out of an average-sized house in three seconds.

He and the entire team hope the project will inspire a generation of young students to become engineers. The designers have done their work publicly, posting their blueprints, documenting setbacks, and have partnered with more than 5,000 schools in the United Kingdom and South Africa, where the completed car will finally race in 2014.

"We are looking to inspire young people about the possibilities of science and technology, Green said. "These are the kids who will build and live in the low carbon world of tomorrow … and we aren't training enough in the West. We just aren't getting enough people into science and engineering.

"So sharing the excitement and magic of our car -- live, to a global Internet audience, starting tomorrow -- is an extraordinary opportunity."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Polish Village Enacts Unique Punishment on Speedy Driver

Antenna Audio, Inc. /Getty Images(LONDON) -- Villagers in Poland, annoyed by the reckless antics of a speedy driver, concocted their own unique style of revenge to teach the 24-year-old driver a lesson.

Forgoing the typical method of leaving a note or, perhaps, speaking to the driver directly, residents of Lubczyna, Poland, instead placed the driver's car atop a tree.

U.K. newspaper The Mirror reports that when the driver, Zbigniew Filo, walked out the door to take his white Ford Escort for a drive, he found it instead hoisted to the top of a willow tree.

"We received a call from a man saying his car was stuck in a tree, and that his neighbors had put it there," a police spokesman told the Mirror.

Filo had reportedly been driving his Escort recklessly throughout the village for months, and without a driver's license, so villagers decided to take action.

"Perhaps he'll think twice about his hair-raising driving and about getting a license or who knows where his next car might end up?" one neighbor told the paper.

The villagers are staying mum about who among them actually carried out the prank other than saying that it took a mobile crane to get the car to the top of the tree.

Filo, whose car was returned to him after he promised to drive more carefully, admitted the lesson was learned.

"I get the message, but I think it was a bit harsh," he said, according to the Mirror.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UK Police Investigate 34-Vehicle Crash Which Killed Seven on M5

Matt Cardy/Getty Images(SOMERSET, England) -- Avon and Somerset Police are investigating the cause of the 34-vehicle accident along M5 in Somerset which killed seven people and injured 51 people on Friday.

The vehicle pile-up occurred on Friday at 20:30 GMT resulting in a fireball as several cars ignited and heavy smoke covered the M5 highway. The highway between junctions 24 and 25 was closed for hours while emergency responders attended to accident victims. Law enforcement and emergency responders were still at the scene on Sunday conducting an investigation and assisting in resurfacing the highway.

BBC News reports that investigators will interview those who attended a fireworks display hosted by the Taunton Rugby Club as witnesses say fog or smoke covered the highway lowering visibility along the highway.

"This incident caused a significant amount of damage to the highway; a stretch of 40 metres of road was damaged by fuel spillage from vehicles and a stretch of 60 metres was damaged by intense fire. It is anticipated that it will take around 4-5 hours to complete this work," said Avon and Somerset Police Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham on Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kate Middleton's Old Volkswagen Draws $78,000 Bidder

David Cheskin - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- It's not an official state car but, west of London, a 10-year-old Volkswagen Golf has gotten attention fit for a royal.

Sonny Brazil, 21, received the used Golf in 2009 from his father, but had no clue about the history behind his new wheels. It turned out, he later found, that it was once owned by a Miss Catherine Middleton.

"I was a bit surprised at the time," Brazil said. "And even more surprised when I found out they were getting married."

The Golf was registered in November 2001 and its documents show that the first owner was the Duchess of Cambridge. Part-exchanged between Brazil's father and Kate's brother, James, in 2009, Brazil took the wheel and noticed Middleton's name on its bills and log books.

He put the Golf up for auction on eBay a few weeks ago, and it has garnered some unexpected international interest. "I get so many emails from Canada, U.S., Germany, Norway," Brazil told ABC News.

Despite getting a highest bid this weekend of about $78,000, he has closed the online auction and says he is in no hurry to sell.

"It was more of a test to see what the car would make and how many people would be interested," he said. "Someone actually emailed me from America saying I'd be ... [crazy] to sell the car because it'll only increase in value."

Also found in the back seat was a pair of silver cufflinks. Brazil is not sure whose they are, but is working on getting them returned to the Middletons.

Another car with a regal past will be put up on the auction block in the United States this weekend. The 1939 Lincoln convertible that was used for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's first Canadian tour is expected to go for more than $350,000 at an auction in Plymouth, Mich.

As for Brazil's price tag, he's not revealing what exactly he'd be willing to take to part with the Golf. Although he has since upgraded and now drives a BMW convertible, Brazil says, he doesn't mind holding on to a little piece of royal history for a bit longer.

"It's a one in a million chance, like a lottery ticket," he said. "I'm just a very lucky young man."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prince Charles, Camilla Unhurt after London Mob Takes to the Streets over Tuition Hikes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Angry protestors taking to the streets of London Thursday attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

A Clarence House spokesperson confirmed the attack and said the heir to the throne and his wife were unharmed.

Photos in Britain's Daily Mail show that the car was hit with paintballs.

The royal couple was on their way to a performance of the Royal Variety show, the spokesperson told ABC News.

One witness to the attack on the prince and his wife told the BBC that he saw "a couple of people were kicking the door."

"I didn't see who done the graffiti, I didn't see who smashed the window," the witness said, "but I saw Prince Charles in his car get attacked. It was Prince Charles in the car, it was - I couldn't believe it."

The incident was an example of how heated the protests over tuition hikes have gotten. Protestors Thursday smashed windows, threw flares and tussled with police. The Daily Mail called the protestors "anarchists."

The British newspaper reported that tens of thousands of people were protesting the government's decision to raise the cap on student tuition from 3,290 pounds to 9,000 pounds, or about $14,160.

Pictures of London Thursday showed police officers being yanked off their horses by protestors and emergency workers tending to both injured officers and civilians.

One woman was even photographed swinging from a Union flag.

Much of the protestors' anger was directed at Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who signed a pre-election promise to avoid such hikes.

"I'm here because the Liberal Democrats broke their promise," said 19-year-old college student Shivan David from London's Trafalgar Square. "I don't think education should be free but I do think that tripling fees doesn't make any sense. We are paying more for less."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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