On October 18th 2001, Don Vesco, veteran record holder on two wheels, shattered the record for wheel driven cars with a two way average speed of 458.440mph for the flying mile.  Able to run on the longest and smoothest salt course the Bonneville flats have been able to produce in decades, Vesco arrived at the WORLD FINALS land speed meeting knowing that he had already run a record topping 427mph in the previous year.  


However technical problems stopped the team, headed by brother Rick, from getting the car turned round within the regulation 1 hour for it's required return run. This prevented them taking an official FIA approved record in 2000. They also knew that two other teams had the potential to run similar speeds and that one of them, Nolan White, was due to appear at the same meeting, setting up a potential head-to-head contest. 




Turbinator - 458.44 mph record holder



As it turned out, White was also to top the old record of 409, held by Al Teague, for the flying mile. Unfortunatley their 412mph two-way run, under FIA timing, came a day too late! By then the Vesco crew had already put the old mark well in the shade.The other potential crew, The Burkland's, suffered an accident in an earlier land speed meeting and both driver and car were unable to reappear for what was that final event of the season.


Veso has run at Bonneville repeatedly since his debut as a 16 year old in 1955. During that time he has broken numerous records including the outright motorcycle land speed record, which remained unbeaten for 18 years! His latest streamliner, the 4000lb, gas turbine TURBINATOR, which takes it's power unit from a helicopter, made it's first shakedown run on the 17th of October and immediately rattled off a 356mph pass before returning the following morning to clock 458.7 on the outward run, leaving the traps at over 461mph! With very little time to spare,a 458.1mph on the return clinched the new record despite blowing a tyre whilst still in the measured mile! 


Oddly the team has made a greater play out of beating the existing gas-turbine car record, held since 1964 by Donald Campbell, than they have the wheel-driven record held by Teague since 1991. All credit to the Vesco team, a superb and well deserved record which put's Don into the exclusive club (which includes Donald & Sir Malcolm Campbell and Sir Henry Segrave),of those legendary figures who have held outright speed records in two different disciplines. The team press release states that 500mph is their aim past 2002. On present form it might just be possible, only 12 months after pushing the record significantly above 400 for the first time! 


The Turbinator's chassis.  Seen here at Don's shop in Temecula, California. Details of the frame can be seen as well as the location of various components. Starting at the front (left) are: the battery, front wheels, front power transfer unit, drivers compartment, turbine engine, engine exhaust pipe, rear wheels, fuel tank and parachute tubes. The rear power transfer unit is located in the engine compartment below the exhaust pipe (see picture below).




Turbinator - mechanicals









The Land Speed Record, Behind The Glory, book, by Nelson Kruschandl



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.