A rocket car travelling near the speed of sound



The Blue Flame was the high-performing, ultra high-speed, rocket-powered vehicle which achieved the world speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 28, 1970. The record 1065.8 km/h lasted for 13 years and was set as an average of achieved speed in both ways (617.601 + 627.207= 617.602 miles/h). The driver, Gary Gabelich, was of Croatian origin and native of San Pedro, California.


Blue Flame

The Blue Flame

Reaction Dynamics, Inc., was looking for a driver about that time for the Blue Flame, a 37-foot-long, 4,950-pound vehicle powered by a liquid natural gas-hydrogen peroxide rocket engine. Craig Breedlove, holder of the land speed record, wanted too much money. A drag racer, Chuck Suba, came to terms but was killed in a racing accident shortly thereafter. Gabelich was the third choice, and he jumped at the chance.

The Blue Flame's run for the land speed record at Bonneville was scheduled for September of 1969, but it was postponed indefinitely. The first attempt finally took place a year later, on September 22, 1970. It was a dismal failure, reaching a speed of only 426 mph compared to Breedlove's five-year-old record of 600.601 mph. A lot of tinkering and testing took place.


Cutaway of Blue Flame

Gabelich hit 609 mph on the first of two mandatory runs on October 15, but a mechanical problem prevented the second run. The same thing happened on October 23, when the first run reached 621 mph. Finally, on October 28, Gabelich and the Blue Flame averaged 617.602 mph on the first run and 627.207 on the second for a new land speed record of 622.407.

LSR Chart and Blue Flame

He said afterward that he thought the Blue Flame might be able to reach 750 mph, beyond the sound barrier. But Reaction Dynamics had no more plans for the Blue Flame and Gabelich became a drag racer. Gabelich's right hand was severed in an early in 1972. It was sewed back on, but further racing was out of the question.


Model of The Blue Flame





Over all Length: 41' 9"

Type: Pressure Fed Bipropellant Liquid Rocket

Wheelbase: 342"

Thrust: Step Throttling from 4,000 to 50,000 Lbs.

Estimated Weight (fueled): 7,700 LB

Propellants: H2O2 and an Alternative Energy Fuel

Fuselage Width vs Height: 30 X 36"

Burn Time: One Minute - (depending on thrust)

Tail Fin Height: 7' 6"

Steering Ratio: 91: 1









This website is Copyright © 2014 Bluebird Marine Systems Limited.   The names Bluebird™, Blueplanet BE3™, Ecostar DC50™ and the blue bird in flight Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo logo are trademarks. The color blue is a registered feature of the mark. All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged.