• Venturi VBB-3 Achieves Land Speed Record, Doesn’t Reach Top Speed

The quest to set the first new electric vehicle land-speed record since 2010 is ongoing. The 2014 Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 hit a one-mile average speed of 240 mph, which was good enough for a new category record, but well short its estimated top speed of 373 mph.

The attempt took place at the Bonneville Salt Flats where conditions have been difficult for the last three years or so. The long-running SpeedWeeks event was cancelled this year due to heavy rains in July, which left standing water on the track. Conditions didn’t improve much in August for VBB-3 and driver Roger Schroer. "In eleven years here I have never driven on such a difficult track,” said Schroer in a press release. “The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps."

Preparations at the track started on August 15th, with speed testing beginning a few days later. Poor conditions caused by flooding meant the track was shortened from 12 to 10 miles, but even the shorter distance was still wet and bumpy in places. Initial runs were hampered by severe vibrations, causing components to rattle loose and disrupt the drivetrain. Finally, during the last attempt on the 21st, the front cooling system tank was punctured, and the team decided to pack it in and try again another day.

The Venturi Buckeye Bullet is a joint project between Venturi Automobiles in Monaco and the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research (hence ‘Buckeye’ in the name). VBB-3 is the fourth electric streamliner built by the two partners, and is powered by two electric motors that produce a combined 3,000 horsepower, making it the most powerful electric car in the world.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

The team hasn’t announced when or where it will make another attempt, but is confident the VBB-3 can hit its 373-mph target in better conditions. Until then, they can rest easy knowing they still retain the 2010 record of 307 mph set by the 700-horsepower VBB-2.5. That, and the Buckeyes are still defending NCAA Football National Champions.

According to the Utah Salt Flats Racing Associating, conditions are slowly improving after a few difficult years of unpredictable weather patterns. A few hours of heavy rain at the Salt Flats can ruin the surface for months, but the organization says the track could be ready for racing in September for the 2015 World of Speed weekend.

2014 Venturi VBB-3

2014 Venturi VBB-3 Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2015 Venturi VBB3 here.

James Wolfcale
About the author

Press Release

Venturi Automobiles and their partner The Ohio State University Center For Automotive Research achieve a new land speed record with the all-electric Venturi VBB-3 (subject to FIA homologation).

Despite very difficult track conditions, Venturi and their partner The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research established a new FIA land speed record with their 3000hp electric car, the Venturi VBB-3 at a one-mile average speed of 240.320 mph (386.757 kph). The record is subject to FIA homologation.

The Monaco based Venturi team was targeting their previous electric FIA World Land Speed Record set in 2010 with The Ohio State University Center For Automotive Research with the Venturi VBB-2.5 (a previous 700hp electric vehicle) at 307mph (495kph), instead achieving a category record.

2015 marks the third year in a row that weather conditions have prevented the Bonneville Salt Flats from providing ideal race conditions consisting of a hard and dry track.

The Bonneville Salt Flats saw a very wet July causing the organizers of SpeedWeek to cancel their famous event which should have taken place August 8th through 14th. The Venturi team was hopeful that the salt would dry for their mid-to-late August FIA world land speed record attempt, but a heavy storm on August 7th delayed their plans.

It wasn’t until August 15th that the Venturi team was able to set up their headquarters on the Salt Flats in order to make a record attempt, shortening their schedule dramatically. The SpeedWeek event would have served as a preparation and practice before the FIA world speed record attempt. However, like last year, the team instead spent that time waiting for the track to dry and then for the "Land Speed Events” trucks to work around the clock in order to groom the track to remove any bumps and to attempt to have a very steady and flat surface.

Venturi VBB-3 driver Roger Schroer spent many days learning the track mile-by-mile to be prepared for speed testing which finally began on August 19th. Despite the waiting period and delayed schedule, the track conditions were not ideal. A typical track for a world speed record attempt would be 12 miles long. However, due to the previous flooding of the salt, the team had only a 10 mile track to work with and throughout those 10 miles some segments were still partially wet and bumpy with clumps of mud and wet salt. These conditions inevitable led to problems with the vehicle, causing excessive shaking of the VBB-3 and it’s components and ultimately disrupted the electrical system. After careful consideration for the driver’s safety, the Venturi team and their experienced driver decided to make an attempt at the record on August 21st. It was their first and last attempt because on the rebound run, the front cooling system tank was pierced.

Roger Schroer, VBB-3 driver said :
"In eleven years here I have never driven on such a difficult track. The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps."

David Cooke, team manager, The Ohio State University Centre for Automotive research
"We went faster than we have ever gone with this car but it’s been a very difficult week on a very smooth track and we have done some damage to the car from extreme vibrations. But i am very confident that with a good track the VBB3 can reach its target"

Gildo Pallanca Pastor, Venturi Automobiles owner said :
Despite a rough track and an extremely shortened schedule, we have set a new record in our category. Our potential is still to be shown, but we have to be satisfied with what we have in the conditions we had to work with. And in this conditions we need to be very cautious with the safety of Roger."

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