There's driving fast and then there's driving fast. The new rocket car from Bloodhound SSC definitely falls into the latter category: with a projected top speed over 1,000 MPH, if testing goes well next year, this technological marvel will set the all-time record for fastest car ever, breaking the sound barrier in the process. If testing goes well next year,it would shatter the existing record of 763 MPH, set by Andy Green in 1997.
Of course, there's two critical facets to designing a vehicle capable of such impressive speeds. The first, Bloodhound SSC has primarily figured out — getting the car to move at more than 1,000 MPH. The second, getting the car back from 1,000 MPH down to rest, is one of the most interesting challenges that brake impact testing has ever seen.
The conundrum is about more than just ensuring the safety of everybody involved, thought that is, of course, is critical. There's also the world record to be considered. If it takes longer than an hour for the vehicle to accelerate to peak speed and then decelerate to rest, twice, the run doesn't count. A team comprising many of of the same designers missed out on creating history by just seconds in 1997.
For such a unique stop, the team is using a parachute brake, mounted in the car's rear window and down into the chassis. While the design is sound, the brake needs to work perfectly each time it's deployed, or the entire enterprise could be for naught. In addition, the vehicle will have air brakes that pop up to further use the forces of wind resistance to allow for a gradual stop.
While not all brake testing is this entertaining, the lengths gone to here illustrate the fundamental importance of brake testing to any driving endeavor.