Andy Green: Interview with the fastest driver in the world

Andy Green is definitely not a scaredy. He was formerly a pilot in the Royal Air Force (nickname: “Dead Dog”), and since 1997 he has also been a certified Mach 1 man on land: Im September 1997 he posted at 1149.30 km / h in the Thrust SSC set the world speed record for land vehicles, in October of that year he improved it again to 1227.99 km / h. This corresponds to Mach 1.016 and therefore supersonic speed.

But Green is obviously not enough. The 57-year-old is currently training in the desert of South Africa for the next record. He wants to be the first person to move at 1000 miles per hour or the equivalent of 1600 km / h – in a car. Training started this winter, Green is slowly screwing up to his old record. Between two runs we spoke to him on the phone, if only for five minutes. After the project has been running for almost ten years, it now seems to have to go very quickly.

MIRROR: Mr. Green, are you actually tired of life?

Andy Green: On the contrary, I am very attached to my life. And that is precisely why I am resisting the impression that we are doing something dangerous or daring here. Enormous forces work on such a journey. But every single trip is extremely controlled. There is therefore no incalculable risk. We are not daredevils.

It sounds a bit like driving to the bakery is much more dangerous than what he's doing here in the desert. Green at least finds the question out of place, even over the brittle telephone connection you can feel that he is a little bit re-excited about it. Perhaps he finds the question inadequate in view of the effort that went into the project: After all, 16,500 tons of stones were cleared out of the way on an area of ​​22 million square meters and for the Bloodhound, the record car is called, a 16 km long and 250 meter wide slope created that is as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Of course, the mission is closely monitored. Nevertheless, Green should have been aware at the latest since this summer that this frenzy is not without risk: In August, the accident American record runner Jessi Combs deadly during a training run in the Oregon desert at just under 900 km / h.

MIRROR: How can the risk be calculated in such a project?

Green: We leave nothing to chance, have simulated and calculated every phase of the journey a hundred times and therefore have a very precise idea of ​​what happens when and how.

MIRROR: Do not be afraid?

Green: No, but I'm excited. After preparing the car for years and straightening the route for almost as long, we are just glad that we are finally here and off we go. Now we can test the car and train the team so that we can break the record next year.

MIRROR: Shouldn't it start much earlier? Why did the preparations take so long?

Green: We don't have to talk around the bush. We had problems with partners and funding that took us a couple of years. But now we have our budget and since we have gained such attention, we can hardly save ourselves from companies that support us and want to cooperate with us.

So far, the project has allegedly devoured around 60 million euros. To reach the record speed the British are doing an insane effort and have with that Bloodhound built a vehiclewhich is a mix of jet fighters, Formula 1– Racing car and spaceship is. 12.90 meters long and shaped like a jet without wings, the supersonic car is powered by the jet engine of a Eurofighter, which develops a thrust of 90,000 Newtons. Because that alone is obviously not enough, the final record attempt also fires a rocket with 122,000 Newton thrust. The almost seven-ton single-seater reaches its top speed within 42.5 seconds. If he has the 1690 km / h on his watch, he travels around 150 meters per second.

The wheels show just how complicated such a journey is. They are aluminum discs with a diameter of 90 centimeters, each weighing 95 kilos. They spin up to 10,000 times a minute, four times faster than a Formula 1 car at full throttle. There is no rubber on the aluminum discs and they do not need a profile. With increasing speed, the car rises so far that only a few millimeters of the wheel touch the ground.

MIRROR: Does that have anything to do with driving at all, or is it more like flying at zero altitude?

Green: Of course we are faster than any other car, that's the point of a record. But the power and the course are transmitted by the four wheels alone, not by wings and not by tail units – the Bloudhound is undoubtedly a car.

MIRROR: How does that feel?

Green: The feeling at the wheel is absolutely incomparable and even if everything happens very, very quickly, you get very detailed information about how the Bloodhound picks up speed and how the field of vision on the sides is increasingly blurred.

If Green had a little more time or desire to chat between the runs, he could certainly describe the driving experience in more detail. After all, he has given the colleagues from “Top Gear” and the “Times” information. Above all, it is the feeling of changing traction that challenges him every time. As long as the bloodhound is slow, the wheels are stuck deep in the sand and it feels like driving on a closed blanket of snow, Green is quoted in the British media. However, the faster the vehicle gets, the smaller the contact area and the less forces are transferred. So at some point it feels like you're on bare ice – just at the speed of a jet plane taking off. Now Green hopes that this effect will reverse with increasing speed and that he has enough downforce to keep the Bloodhound on course.

MIRROR: What is the most difficult: accelerate, brake or stay on the move?

Green: The hardest part is actually staying on course because the Bloodhound is extremely prone to cross winds. The trick is to drive straight ahead anyway. We cannot allow ourselves a large deviation from the ideal line at this speed.

However, these speeds are not only a challenge for the senses, but also for the body: When the brake flaps are extended during the world record attempt, forces of 6G act on Green's body. As a fighter pilot he is used to this, but ordinary people faint.

MIRROR: Why are you doing this record hunt? The car is criticized more than ever, the concern for the climate is growing and even in Germany, the only country without speed limit, one loudly discusses a speed limit. Does such a record drive still fit into the time?

Green: We don't notice much of the criticism of the car. Above all, we are met with enthusiasm – thanks to social media to an extent that would never have been possible before. We have millions of followers and more visits our youtube pagesthan you could ever fly to South Africa.

MIRROR: But isn't this record run a huge waste of energy and resources?

Green: On the contrary. I am convinced that we will be dependent on the car for a long time if we want to stay mobile. Only our cars have to be more climate-friendly and therefore more efficient. Developing the technologies for this – that will be the task of a future generation of engineers who are still at school today. And these are the people we actually want to reach with our record attempt. We inspire young people for technology and cars and thus inspire them engineers from tomorrow.

These are questions that Green does not have on the slip. And which he obviously doesn't appreciate. If he was previously rather unmotivated, he now ends the conversation extremely quickly. He now had to get behind the wheel and start the next test: “Sorry, Thank you and Goodbye”. Apparently there is something fearless Andy Green fears: criticism of his project.

Icon: The mirror

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