Flower in Flames at 245mph at Bonneville
Speed Scotland were on the Salt early on Tuesday with high hopes following the all-day install of the new motor yesterday.
Final prep complete, we towed down to the start line for 11am, but it was to be 2pm before we arrived at the front of the queue... a long wait in the heat of a Bonneville Summer.
BBC interview Malcolm wind damage above
Boost controller and melted dials all still work
On arrival, I strapped in as normal and we got the go signal from the starter, but suddenly the EFG Flower of Scotland refused to fire up. We missed our slot and are pushed back a couple of cars while the crew check the engine bay over and find nothing, but the car decides to start behaving and fires up.
So back on the start line and back in the heat and cramped confines of the cockpit once again... this time we fire up, the perfect push start off the truck and we’re away: 1st gear and she’s pulling well, but there’s a stronger smell of methanol in the cockpit than usual. No matter, I’ve got plenty of other things to focus on as the speed builds and airflow into the drivers compartment blows away the fumes. 2nd gear and we’re flying... 191mph by the 2 mile mark and pulling ok... I’m being gentle with the car and the brand new engine but we’re up thru 3rd gear and the 3rd mile at a 221mph average... suddenly though a cough from the engine and I immediately grab 4th in case we’re spinning the wheels but the car won’t accelerate anymore. Have I shifted too soon? Dropped out of the power band?
This used to be an infra red camera to warn of fire
Chris repairs paint damage from fire
No. A fuel pipe coupling has failed in the engine bay and neat Methanol is being sprayed onto the exhaust manifolds. The Flower is burning at 245mph. The engine cuts and unaware of the fire but aware we have smoke and a major issue, I throw the ‘chute and lift the canopy for fresh air, checking the infra-red screen to see if there are flames in the engine bay. The screen is dark, so reassured I pull off the course and bail out.
As I stop though, I am surrounded by emergency vehicles, and fire extinguishers are being emptied at the car. The paint is blistering and there is clearly fire burning under the engine cover but the fast response time of the Emergency teams mean it’s quickly under control.
On returning to the pit, it is clear the first thing destroyed by the fire was the infra-red camera! The entire wiring of the car is crispy and the boost controller/engine management box has melted.
It is all over for 2012.
Except I am lucky enough to have a team of Scots that never gives in and on finding the engine and gearbox to be intact, they try and start the motor. The mortally wounded control box astonishingly lights up and the engine fires! So all the toasted wiring is ripped out and replaced and by sun down on the Salt the car is basically ready to race once again tomorrow morning. It seems extremely unlikely to me that the fire didn’t cause further damage or that our boost controller can work for long in its melted state but the crew are completely happy that she should be good to go!
Sunset on a tough day
So perhaps today the Salt Gods were smiling on us in their own way... surely now we’ve paid our dues and a decent run is in the offing?? Optimism is lacking, but perseverance does sometimes prevail.
We’ll find out at dawn.