Blue Flame (Gary Gabelich)

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.

The Blue Flame land speed record breaking car, driven by Gary Gabelich.

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).

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.