Andy Green, The Fastest Man In The World -- ROAD TESTAMENT

Uploaded by drive on 06.12.2012

MIKE SPINELLI: Welcome to "Road Testament." This week I
sat down with RAF pilot and fastest man in the world on
land, Andy Green.
His resume should be self-evident.
But if it isn't, in 1997 Andy hit 763 miles per hour in the
twin jet-powered thrust SSC, breaking the sound barrier and
setting in the world land speed record.
That record still stands.
But next year he'll pilot the jet and hybrid rocket powered
Bloodhound SSC when it makes a run at 800 miles per hour.
The main event will happen a year later in 2014, when
Bloodhound will shoot for 1,000 miles per hour.
Andy is an absolute legend, a decent radical racer, as Chris
Harris recently found out, and a font of knowledge about the
physics of going really, really fast.
That's Andy Green--
today on "Road Testament."
So Andy Green, very good to see you, as always.
ANDY GREEN: Mike, good to see you again.
MIKE SPINELLI: So we're at the LA Auto Show.
Why are you in LA?
And what's happening?
Why are we at the Bentley stand?
ANDY GREEN: I got a great call from Bentley
couple months ago.
They're making a series called the Mulsanne Visionary Series,
where they get key characters like Jean Todt of the FIA,
talking about the future of the automobile.
And Wang Shu, the architect, talking about
the future of cities.
And they gave me a call and said, do you want to make a
video about the future of speed?
I said, well I can make something up.
MIKE SPINELLI: I think you're qualified to speak on the
future of speed.
ANDY GREEN: But the deal of course, was that we would take
the flagship of their series, the Bentley Mulsanne, out to
Bonneville, which is always a beautiful place to visit,
drive it flat out and make the world's fastest documentary.
So it was great fun to make this little film.
And I came here to LA to launch that film last night.
So that's on the web now.
And it's a beautiful piece of footage.
If you want to know what Bonneville looks like and why
I love going there, they captured it really nicely.
MIKE SPINELLI: You did this in a Bentley-- a sort of stock
Bentley Mulsanne, right?
ANDY GREEN: Quite literally, they took a new Bentley, they
drove it to Bonneville salt flats, they put 10 pounds of
air in the tires.
And then we got into the car with a camera crew and took it
up to 191 miles an hour, and just sat there, filming.
It was the most amazing experience.
MIKE SPINELLI: I'm assuming that it's not the fastest
you've driven on Bonneville?
ANDY GREEN: No I've been lucky enough--
I've been up to 350 in the world's fastest diesel car,
the JCB diesel car, six years ago.
So I actually have to earn my 300 mile an hour
cap, which is great.
So they take me a bit more seriously now.
MIKE SPINELLI: So did they give you something like a
lapel pin or something to wear when you get to the 300 mile
an hour club?
The entry level for the club's 200 mile an hour club--
anybody you see wearing a red baseball
cap with a blue sticker--
they've set a record at 200.
Now there's about three times as many people who have
climbed to the top of Everest than have actually set a 200
mile an hour record.
So this is quite a small club.
You go to the 300 mile an hour club, you're now down to about
70-odd people.
So there's more people that have been in space than have
actually got 300 mile an hour caps.
So I'm quite proud of that.
It was a great opportunity.
And of course, the US pretty much defined the whole
hot-rodding and straight line racing scene
over the last 50 years.
Bonneville is the home.
It's where all the great land speed record breakers over the
last 50 years went to run cars to become the
fastest man on Earth.
So it's a very special place.
MIKE SPINELLI: Well speaking of the fastest man on Earth--

let's see, it was 1997.
ANDY GREEN: Yes, sir.
MIKE SPINELLI: Let's go back to the thrust SSC.
763 miles an hour at that time, which was breaking the
sound barrier for the first time.
So now, with the Bloodhound SSC, you guys
are pushing to 1,000.
So it seems that land speed records increase by about 100
to 200 miles per hour every 20 years or so.
I mean, roughly.
ANDY GREEN: Every 10 or 15 years, a crazy bunch of people
come along and go, right, let's try this.
And it happens in groups.
In the 1960s, there were a huge number of people.
There were the great American racers.
There was Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove, and in 1970, Gary
Gabelich, all setting this amazing cluster of records.
And nothing happened for 15 years.
And Richard Noble came along.
But that sort of was an isolated.
And then another 15 years later, we finish up with us
and Craig Breedlove now racing for 700 miles an hour, racing
for the sound barrier.
Forward again another 15 years, now we've got half a
dozen teams around the world all engaged in trying to break
that 15-year-old record.
And some of them are trying to push 1,000 miles an hour.
So we've got a couple American teams, one of which, the North
American Eagle, was running last month.
They got up to about 400 miles an hour.
Like all land speed records, got rained off.
That happens to all of us.
Other side of the planet, we've got the Australians.
Rosco McGlashan is building a rocket car.
He's mostly finished his rocket car,.
So we're dying to see if he can get that
running next year.
And our entry, the Bloodhound supersonic car, targeting
1,000 miles an hour.
And of course, the traditional reason for doing this is we're
going to defend our record against the competition.
Money is very tight right now.
The environment becomes progressively more important--
sustainability, clean energy.
Can we justify ever bigger, more fuel hungry land speed
record cars?
That's quite a tough sell.
We got a slightly bigger aim.
And all the teams have got the same aim of trying to make
science and technology just more fun and more exciting for
the average 8, 10, 12-year-old kid-- boy or girl.
To replace the posters of the 1960s--
Saturn V rockets--
and the 1980s, with Lamborghinis and Corvettes,
the modern Formula One and NASCAR.
And actually, none of those people, particularly the
racers, they have to keep all their technology secret.
Because if you've got a little edge-- something that works
that nobody else has got-- that's your racing edge.
And you've got to keep it secret.
You can't tell anybody.
That's why you win.
So that's your special secret.
We're the only people with a Bloodhound supersonic car.
So our secrets about making that particular car work
aren't actually secret.
So we can share the whole thing.
We can get kids excited about a car that will go from a
standing start to being 12 miles away in two minutes.
And we can tell them how we're going to do it, why we're
doing it, and then actually share it with
them as we do it.
Even to the point of running streaming live video from the
car at 1,000 miles an hour.
MIKE SPINELLI: I mean, that's really cool.
I think with the internet that you can open the project up
and just sort of show the technology.
As you were saying, getting kids interested in it.
What are the latest hurdles?
Because when you go from 400 to 600, you have certain
technological breakthroughs you need to make
before you get there.
From 600 to 700, to 700 to 800, now we're getting into
four digits.
What exists now technologically that didn't
exist in 1997 when you did [INAUDIBLE]?
ANDY GREEN: Great question.
Where are the jumps in speed?
You've got to have a lot of power.
You've got to be able to control it.
You got to have somewhere to run it.
We've got a lot of power plots in this car.
We've got a state of the art jet engine-- the Eurofighter
jet engine.
It's one of the best jet engines in the world.
You'd never get one of those from the production line.
But the test program finished a few years ago.
So all those test engines have got a few hours left on them.
They're museum pieces.
So this is high-tech recycling.
We're just borrowing those for a little bit to run them.
So that gives us about nine tons of thrust.
For a car like this, that's about 60,000 horsepower.
That's a good start.
That'll give us up to maybe 700.
So we need more power than that if
we're going to go faster.
So we're building our own hybrid rocket--
same sort of technology that the Virgin Galactic space
plane being developed in Mohave is using.
Solid rubber fuel pumping liquid oxidizer in, four
gallons a second at 1,000 pounds per square inch.
So the problem is pumping that in at really high pressure.
That rocket will give us 12 tons of thrust.
That's another 75,000 horsepower.
So you're up to 135,000 now.
That's enough to get to 1,000 miles an hour.
But the rocket pump takes 800 horsepower just to turn it.
So we need another engine, which is the pump motor, which
is made by Cosworth.
And it's a Cosworth Formula One engine.
V8, 800 horsepower engine, just to turn the pump motor.
All of that in a package that's small enough and thin
enough, will get us to 1,000 miles an hour.
OK, so that's the power element.
MIKE SPINELLI: So if I'm not mistaken--
just looking at 135,000 horsepower--
is the Formula One grid times six?
I think, depending on how many cars, it's somewhere between
six and eight times the whole of the Formula One grid.
It's a big number.

Having got the power you need to control it.
So the single biggest change in technology is the
15 years ago, we were right on the limit of what computers
could model and what aerodynamic [INAUDIBLE].
And the car was just about good enough, but really wasn't
going to go much faster.
We were at the limit of what we could do at the time.
15 years later--
let's go back 15 years.
It's astonishing to believe broadband didn't exist.
Most people didn't have access to the internet.
It was the dark ages in terms of technology.
Nowadays, what was a super-computer then is now
just a medium sized desktop.
So technology has just leapt forwards.
We can model so much more.
So the whole aerodynamic modeling, understanding what's
going on, we are so much better placed.
So we've got a really, really good.
And it still took us five years to find a solution that
would keep this car on the ground from 200 miles an hour
all the way up to 1.4 times the speed of sound--
1,000 miles an hour.
So we've cracked that bit.
So we've got the control.
And of course, you need to structure to support it.
That's just good engineering--
just high technology.
The third thing you need is somewhere to run it.
And we looked at Bonneville salt flats--
too short and a bit soft at the end.
We looked to where we ran last time which was in Nevada--
the Black Rock Desert.
It's been very rough and bumpy and soft over
the last few years.
They've had a lot of weather problems.
They've had surface problems.
So we had to find somewhere else.
And we managed to find a surface--
another dry lake bed out in South Africa--
just long enough, 12 miles.
It had 6,000 tons of stones on the surface, a huge quantity.
MIKE SPINELLI: Did you guys really find it by looking on
Google Earth?
Or was that just, you knew basically where to look?
ANDY GREEN: It was a bit more sophisticated than that.
I actually spent a year with a university developing some
programs using radar maps from the space shuttle and some of
the environmental maps from the satellite called Landsat,
which takes environmental pictures.
And you can process that to show where there's vegetation
and where there's water.
Which means you can invert that picture and find out
where there's no vegetation and no water, And your radar
map will show you where it's flat.
If you've got flat-- no vegetation, no water.
If you go through Google Earth and look at every single place
that qualifies as being flat with nothing on it, one of
them is going to be a desert.
And we found about 30 or 40 deserts.
And then I spent--
most of my life for two years was going to
visit all these places.
I went all over the US looking at Bonneville, and Black Rock,
and a bunch of other places nobody's run.
I looked at some places in South America.
There's one in Turkey.
There's three or four in Australia, and one or two in
South Africa.
And the best, by far, was the one in South Africa.
It's got a much longer weather window.
It's actually a better surface underneath.
The problem was all these stones.
And bless them, the local government, the Northern Cape
government, which is right in the North of South Africa,
they just said, all right, we'll help you clear this.
We get the value for the country.
And they employed 300 people from the local townships.
This is a really poor area.
So actually it was really valuable for them to actually
start to be able to earn some money,
investing in their future.
These guys, 300 of them, cleared round about 200
million square feet of surface.
MIKE SPINELLI: Did they literally walk the course and
find the rocks and dig them up?
ANDY GREEN: Line abreast with shovels and pry bars picking
these stones, because they are all set into the surface.
They're picking these stones out, putting
them in little piles.
Another bunch of guys with wheelbarrows come in, put them
into barrows, put them in trucks.
6,000 tons of stones, that's about 20 tons per person.
These guys, they're my heroes.
The amount of effort they put into and the
surface they've left.
I was out there a few months ago having a look at it.
They were just finishing off the work, and it is, quite
literally, the best racetrack I have ever seen for a land
speed record.
MIKE SPINELLI: What is the surface?
Is it a packed powder?
ANDY GREEN: It's a very, very hard mud surface.
If you can imagine, in drought conditions when the reservoir
dries out, and you finish up with that very hard solid mud
layer with the cracks in it.
That really solid mud, that's exactly what
we're looking for.
But of course, it doesn't dry reservoir-shaped, this is a
dry lake bed.
It's 12 miles and perfectly flat.
It's just what we need.

MIKE SPINELLI: The thing that I learned from thrust, from
all those years ago, is that breaking the sound barrier on
land is very different from breaking the sound barrier
when you're up in the air.
As a pilot, you've done that in the air.
ANDY GREEN: A few times.
MIKE SPINELLI: Many times.
When you do it on the ground, lots of other
things come into play.
So you have a shock wave.
Tell me a little bit about how that shock wave happens.
And what are the perils of breaking the sound barrier
with the ground under you?
ANDY GREEN: Quite simply, we understand the flow over the
top of the car.
People have been doing that for 65 years, since Chuck
Yeager first cracked it in the X1.
It's the flow underneath the car and managing that pressure
change, and the flow around the back end, because
airplanes don't have wheels and suspension sticking out of
the back end.
The flow around there is really complicated.
It took us a year and a half to work out how we're going to
manage that.
That was the last big problem.
Having got all of that, it's a very sophisticated, iterative
design, to work out how we're going to manage the flow so
that the car never generates any lift, never
generates any downfall.
So it just runs neutral the whole time.
The problem, of course, is that the air flow underneath--
because we're running in very thick air, 1,000 miles an hour
at ground level-- no jet fighter in the world will do
1,000 miles an hour.
The air is too thick They have to go up to 30,000 or 40,000
feet to go that fast.
So we are going faster than any jet fighter has ever been
at ground level, through the thick air.
The bow wave around the car--
particularly around the wheels--
the shock waves that the wheels form will tear the
surface up as they're running along it.
So the wheels are actually running along the surface
they're tearing up.
The front wheels then throw up all this dust and dirt, so the
rest of the car is now running through this big thick fog of
mud and powder in the air.
So it's an interesting challenge for a driver.
Because at slow speed, of course, the wheels are
gripping the surface, sort of like normal wheels.
They're cutting into this hard mud surface.
You start to go supersonic.
The airflow, the shock waves around the wheels start to rip
the surface up.
So it actually starts to break the surface
up under the wheels.
So the wheels are now sliding.
And to give you some idea of the grip levels, tarmac's a
grip level of about one.
That's what you get on the road.
When it's raining, it goes down to maybe about 0.5, 0.6,
which is like the salt of Bonneville on a good day.
Dry lake bed, you're about half of that.
So you're down to about 0.2, 0.3.
And that's your starter.
When you go supersonic, it goes down even lower.
So the car is so loose.
It is sliding all over the place.
And I'm steering it now, not with the grip of the wheels,
but actually the wheels stick into the airflow.
And I'm now steering it with the aerodynamics.
So it's starting to handle more like a jet fighter.
MIKE SPINELLI: Luckily, you have experience in that.
ANDY GREEN: I've practiced that as well.
MIKE SPINELLI: That's amazing to me, because it's about
finesse at that level.
You're really just finessing the car.
And it looks pin straight when it's going across the--
ANDY GREEN: But you've got to have a look at the tracks
And you see the car wandering about, and you see the tracks
moving about.
And of course, with new technology, streaming live
video from the cockpit, you're actually going to be seeing
the steering inputs.
Actually, every time we run, we're going to have about 10
or 20 million people marking my homework.
I'll be far too busy to worry about it then.
MIKE SPINELLI: Is it literally full appo?
Or do you--
ANDY GREEN: Hopefully not that much.
But if it's whatever it takes, just like any race car.
If it gets loose and starts to get sideways, you put in
enough steering to correct it.
Whatever that is at the time.
And of course, as the aerodynamic changes, the
amount of steering will change with speed for an angle off.
So that's the interesting bit.
But of course, back to our main aim, our legacy of the
education program, of getting kids involved, of showing off
and explaining how technology works, and making it exciting.
Being able to explain it beforehand on the website--
Bloodhound SSC website.
Being able to show them live, with the video.
And at the same time, we're downloading live data.
So they can actually download the data and actually have a
look at the balance of the car.
They can have a look at the aerodynamic.
They can do their own science lessons around this car, real
time, while we're running.
That's never been done before.
We're really excited about that.
MIKE SPINELLI: That's fantastic.
So where are you in the process, and what do you have
left to do to get it?
ANDY GREEN: We've got the first major chunk of chassis
was delivered last week, and we've got the money in the
bank to finish the car.
The cockpit, the monocoque, the carbon fibers all in the
molds right now.
So by early next year, we are assembling the chassis,
putting it on its wheels.
By the middle of next year, we'll be ready to test it.
And by the end of 2013, we're out in South Africa, pushing
up to 800 miles an hour, getting
ready for the big record.
1,000 miles an hour.
So 800 will be a record.
And then the next year?
ANDY GREEN: An even bigger record, and a bigger
engineering adventure for a whole generation of young
MIKE SPINELLI: Andy Green, always a pleasure.
Great to see you.
ANDY GREEN: Good to talk to you.
MIKE SPINELLI: And we'll see you in South Africa in a
couple of years.
ANDY GREEN: Looking forward to it.