JCB DieselMax’s first run in USA
The JCB DIESELMAX team, which is aiming to set a new world land speed record for diesel vehicles in Bonneville, USA, later this month, faces its first major challenge in the US - to reassemble the car in time for Bonneville Speed Week scrutineering this Saturday.
Although the team arrived only on Sunday and simultaneously has to establish its operation in unfamiliar surroundings, it aims to reassemble the car, which was partially stripped down for air freighting from the UK, by Wednesday. If possible the will then be run on a 1.5-mile runway at Wendover airport, which the team is using as its base, prior to scrutineering.
The car is being run at Speed Week under the SCTA Bonneville National Rules partially to acclimatise to the unique conditions of the Bonneville Salt Flats and partially to take part in the World Famous Speed Trials prior to running under FIA Rules which JCB have arranged and which are to take place seven days later.
However detail regulations laid down by the SCTA/BNI, the governing body at Bonneville, are different from those of the FIA.
“There are regulations covering the class of vehicle, the compliance of the vehicle, with safety regulations, and the compliance of the driver,” says Project Manager David Brown. “For both the SCTA and the FIA we’re classed as a “special vehicle” with a supercharged diesel engine in the largest category – over eight litres. The engines are well above the maximum class break at 10 litres but FIA require this to be ratified and rather than strip the engines immediately following a record run we have had an FIA official in the UK inspect and seal the engines on build.
The FIA specific Car Construction regs are fairly open and left to the responsibility of the car constructor, but the SCTA regs are quite prescriptive detailing various permissible methods of construction based on years of running under these unique conditions.
“Whereas the FIA’s regulations are based around circuit racing, where there are always marshals close by, at Bonneville you might be three miles from a fire and rescue crew, so the SCTA demands a different standard for fire regulations of the drivers overalls and Fire Extinguishers etc. His overalls have to resist burning for four times longer than a Formula 1 race suit, his arms are tethered to the car so they are not exposed if the car rolls and the canopy becomes detached, and he has to be able remove himself from the cockpit unaided within three or four seconds.
“We have a lot do but the task is being made a little easier by the welcome we’ve been given here. The people are right behind us, which I think is a legacy of Richard Noble’s accomplishments. I hope we can achieve our goal just as he did with Thrust and bring another record home.”
Speed Week runs from 12-18 August, and FIA Week starts on 21 August.