On October 23 1970, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Gary Gabelich set a new World Land Speed Record in his rocket-powered car The Blue Flame. Here are some of the key facts about the car and driver.
23 October 1970 – the date Gary Gabelich set a new World Land Speed Record, driving his jet-powered car The Blue Flame at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
622.407 mph – the record breaking speed recorded for the measured mile (1,001.667 km/h).
630.389 mph – the speed recorded for the flying kilometre (1,014.513 km/h).
5 years – the length of time the previous record had stood (4 years, 11 months, 8 days) set by Craig Breedlove in Spirit of America Sonic 1.
13 years – the length of time that The Blue Flame retained the record for the measured mile.
27 years – the length of time that The Blue Flame retained the flying kilometre record (see ‘Did You Know?, below).
Did You Know?
New World Land Speed Records are only counted if they beat the existing record by at least 1%. Therefore, whilst Thrust 2 set a new record for the measured mile in 1983, it did not usurp the kilometre record, as the speed of 634.052 mph was within 1% of the time set by The Blue Flame. The kilometre record was only broken in 1997, by Andy Green in Thrust SSC.
20 seconds – the length of time that the engine was designed to run at maximum thrust.
22,000 lbf – the intended thrust, measured in pound-force, a standardised value for acceleration (98 kN – kilonewtons).
58,000 bhp – The Blue Flame’s intended power output, measured in brake horsepower (37 MW – Megawatts).
11,000 lbf – the actual thrust achieved during the run (49 kN) – the result of engine damage.
37.4 feet – the length of The Blue Flame (11.3m).
7.8 feet – the width of the car (2.3m).
25.5 feet – the wheelbase (7.7m)
4,000 lb – The Blue Flame’s empty weight, in pounds.
34.8 inches – the outside diameter of the wheels (880mm).
Did You Know?
The car used tyres specially designed by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which featured a smooth tread surface to reduce the buildup of heat during the runs.
29 August 1940 – the date Gary Gabelich was born, in San Pedro, southern California, USA.
16 – the age at which Gabelich first started racing, winning first place in the stock eliminator drag racing class at Santa Ana, California (1958).
17 – the age at which he won the world’s first side-by-side jet dragster race (1959).
250 mph – the approximate speed Gabelich reached in this dragster race.
1964 – the year Gabelich, then aged 24, married Rae Marie Ramsey (born 13 November 1946).
26 January 1984 – the date Gabelich died, killed in a motorcycle accident.
43 – Gabelich’s age at his death (43 years, 4 months, 28 days).
1985 – the year in which a Long Beach park, Gabelich Park, was named in his memory.