Don Vesco passed away, December 16, 2002 at 2:30 PM in Scripps Mercy hospital in San Diego. Don battled prostate cancer for about a year, but unfortunately the cancer won. The racing world has lost a great competitor, and a friend.




Don Vesco


The power transfer unit


The power transfer units transfer the power from the drive shaft which runs aft from the transmission down the left side of the car to the drive shaft which connects through a universal joint to the pinion gear in the rear end. An almost identical arrangement drives the front end. A 5 inch wide timing belt transfers the power from one pulley to another. Each pulley is supported in bearings mounted on the bulkhead and by bearings mounted inside the pulley on the free end. This arrangement prevents the pulleys from touching as the belt expands, a problem which ended the 1997 Speed Week attempt.


The T55-L-11A SA Gas Turbine Engine


The Turbinator is powered by an Avco Lycoming T55-L-11A SA gas turbine engine. The front of the engine is mounted solid to the frame but the back floats in the longitudinal direction to allow for engine growth from the heat. At the top of the engine is a 28 VDC starter.  The transmission mounted on the front of the gas turbine engine.  The transmission reduces the turbine output shaft speed to the drive line speed. The gear ratio is currently 2:1 but the transmission can accommodate 1.75:1 and 1.5:1 ratios. The transmission includes three precision machined gears and its own separate oiling system, fed and scavenged by an external dry sump pump. The screened area in the photo is the engine air inlet.




Turbinator after the 438.897 run - 1997 World Finals



The parachute tubes and drogue ejection mechanism


The parachutes are contained in the two large round tubes, the high speed chute in the top tube and the low speed chute in the bottom tube. The small diameter tube at the top holds the drogue ejection mechanism and two 12 inch drogue chutes, one for each parachute. When the high or low speed chute button on the steering wheel is pushed, the respective drogue is ejected by an electrically actuated spring loaded mechanism. As the ejector mechanism moves to eject the drogue, it pulls a cable that releases the strap that holds in chute in the large tube, thus allowing the drogue to pull out the chute. There is also a mechanical backup for each chute, controlled by cable from the drivers compartment. The mechanism was designed and built by Rick Vesco and perfected by Don.


The Goal
Be the first wheel-driven vehicle to exceed 500 mph.

The Achievements
Bonneville Nationals Gas Turbine record at 400.833 MPH in 1998, 417.529 and 427.832 MPH in 1999, and 458.44 MPH in 2001.

Broke Donald Campbell's 403.135 mph gas turbine record.

Broke the 409.986 mph wheel-driven vehicle record. Set the new LSR at 458.440 MPH in 2001.


Read about the funeral, the big clean up, and other TeamVesco happenings on the latest news page.

The 2001 World Finals turned out to be a great meet for TeamVesco. Don set the world land speed record for a wheel-driven vehicle at 458.44 MPH.   Read the official press release.

Read a letter of congratulations from Andy Green, world's record holder for a non-wheel-driven vehicle.   


Read an article from the Salt Lake City Desert News.

Take a very fast ride in the Turbinator down the Bonneville Salt Flats in the Turbinator at 458 mph!

Order TeamVesco Turbinator T-shirts, or an official Turbinator poster.

The Turbinator page gives a complete description of the vehicle and detailed specifications of its components.


Help us thank our sponsors and friends and see what they can do for you.

Read about Don Vesco, Rick Vesco, and the Turbinator Team.

Read about the history of the wheel-driven vehicle land speed record



Turbinator specifications

Turbinator Homepage
Latest News| The Turbinator | Turbinator Sponsors
Don Vesco | Rick Vesco| The Turbinator Team
Take A Ride At 458 MPH!




Turbinator's sponsors:


Don Vesco Machine & Welding

Vesco's Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki

Rob North Fabrications

Bob Hodgkinson Engineering

B & J Engineering

Burkey Machine and Tool Corp.


Jiffy Machine & Welding

The Gear Works

Composit Materials Inc.

Ramtreat Metal Technologies, Inc.

Carpenter Technology (CarTech)

Airtech Streamlining

Valley Metals

Parsons Auto Recyclers

Advanced Engineering

Gates Rubber Company

Turbines, Inc.

P.A.B. Digital Video Productions


Jerry Mathel Signs

High Performance Coatings

Air Brush by Von Otto

JR's Custom Graphics and Finishes


MJB Chrome Plating

Pittsburg Paint and Glass

Vail Conoco Service

Performance Measurement Systems

Majestic Turbos

Avon Aero Supply

Morris Engineering

Six States Distributing

Simpson Race Products

Autopower Industries

Mickey Thompson Tires

ARAI Helmets

Graphics INK Printing

Gordon Menzie Photography

Magic Touch Productions

LandSpeed Productions





This website is Copyright © 2013 Bluebird Marine Systems Limited.   The names Bluebird, Solar Navigator™,Blueplanet Ecostar BE3™, Utopia Tristar™ and the blue bird in flight Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo logo are trademarks. All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged.