Steam car breaks land-speed record

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A team of British engineers has broken the 103-year-old world speed record for a steam-powered car in the Mojave Desert, California.

A team of British engineers has broken the world speed record for a steam-powered car in



The steam car, Inspiration, recorded an average speed of 139.843mph (225.06km/h) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, breaking the old record that has stood for more than 100 years.

Driver Charles Burnett III piloted the car for both runs, reaching a peak speed of 136.103mph on the first run and 151.085mph on the second. The new international record, which is subject to official confirmation by the FIA, breaks the previous official FIA record of 127mph set in 1906 by American driver Fred Marriott, who drove a Stanley Steamer at Daytona Beach.

Charles Burnett III commented after his record-breaking run that the Inspiration car took 10 years to develop and had to overcome numerous engineering challenges.

‘What we have achieved today is a true testament to British engineering, good teamwork and perseverance,’ he said.

Project manager Matt Candy said the car outperformed its test runs in Britain.

‘The British steam car takes 2.5 miles to accelerate and after the measured mile, a further 2.5 miles to decelerate - so each run was more than 6.5 miles,’ he added. ‘The FIA requires that the return run takes place within 60 minutes. The times of the two runs are then averaged to obtain the official recorded speed.

‘Compared to the testing we did in Britain, the British steam car ran 12 times the distance and twice the maximum speed - all within one hour. It’s been a huge challenge for all.’

To read The Engineer’s Cover Feature about Inspiration, click here: