Speed-merchant

During quarantine, we have caught up on all manner of things from DIY projects to multiple new product designs. Forgive us for a while though as word reaches us of a new book. Richard Noble, well known for his land speed records, has released a novel containing those stories and more. Now, where is the out of office button…

This is a very different book from the traditional speed-merchant genre. Richard Noble has had the ambition all his adult life to see Britain excel in engineering on the world stage and throw off the country’s dismal culture of safety first and risk aversion.

His achievements in the highly insecure world of record-breaking emphatically demonstrate his commitment to his cause: he brought the Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983 when he drove his Thrust 2 car to 633mph and 14 years later he led the Thrust SSC team to achieve the first supersonic record at 763mph with Andy Green driving.

In his book Take Risk! he tells the extraordinary stories of his 11 projects in record-breaking and aviation that all saw people and companies go out of their way to join him in his exciting endeavours — and take risk.

Best of British

Richard Noble says: “Without the people and companies I include in the book, none of my record attempts would have been possible. I think that their story needs to be told, to be shared with those who have followed these record attempts and who rightly feel pride that the Land Speed Record is still held by a British vehicle.”

Eric Verdon Roe, chairman of Evro, says: “Whether you read or listen to Richard describing his experiences in the audio book, you will be captivated by his determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable setbacks. Like the man himself, his book is fast-paced and enthusiastic – it is a most enjoyable and inspiring read.”

Milestones covered:

  • Thrust 2: The rollercoaster ride with designers John Ackroyd and Ken Norris to attack the Land Speed Record at Bonneville and how it succeeded after innumerable setbacks, including sponsor withdrawals, delays and a rebuild after a crash.
  • ARV Aircraft: Creating an innovative and beautiful metal aircraft with safe forward-swept wings and a special Hewland engine, all achieved in 13 months from start-up with no design and little money.
  • Thrust SSC: The momentous achievement of breaking the sound barrier on land against the odds after another fraught and prolonged struggle.
  • Farnborough Aircraft: A project to create a new fast and small uber marketed taxi aircraft to provide low cost point to point on demand taxi services with 1000-mile range and potential mileage costs similar to a Range Rover
  • JCB Dieselmax: Working with JCB on the diesel-powered record breaker which exceeded 350mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in 2006 and is still the Words fastest diesel car.
  • Bloodhound: The 1,000mph projectile that consumed Noble’s energies from 2008 until 2019, complete with a huge education programme to enthuse British schoolchildren — until financial obstacles proved overwhelming.

Author

Richard Noble was brought up at time of great British technical advances during the Cold War and was inspired by innovative record breakers such as John Cobb. Aged 6 he witnessed Cobbs Crusader water speed record challenger on Loch Ness which stimulated his record breaking ambitions.  After education at Winchester College (where he was later received Ad Portas), his early career started with selling paints and later manmade fibres with ICI and then international marketing of building materials with GKN.  His career was gradually subsumed with his record-breaking ambitions and bore uncertain fruit when he built his first jet car, Thrust1, in 1974. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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