British team claims world steam speed record

The British Steam Car team has broken the world land speed record for a steam-powered car, which had stood for more than a century.

The car achieved an average speed of 139.843mph on two runs over a measured mile at Edwards Air Force Base in California yesterday morning. It actually peaked at 151mph on the second run.

"It was absolutely fantastic, I enjoyed every moment of it," said driver Charles Burnett III. "We reached nearly 140mph on the first run before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150 mph.

"The car really did handle beautifully. The team has worked extremely hard over the last 10 years and overcome numerous problems. It is a privilege to be involved with such a talented crew, what we have achieved today is a true testament to British engineering, good teamwork and perseverance."

Project manager Matt Candy added that the car takes 2.5 miles to accelerate, and then a further 2.5 miles to decelerate after the measured mile, so each run was over 6.5 miles.

"The FIA requires that the return run takes place within 60 minutes," he said. "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."

The new record has yet to be officially confirmed by the FIA. The previous record of 127mph was set by an American, Fred Marriott, driving a Stanley steamer at Daytona Beach in 1906, when the FIA rules required only a single run over a measured mile.

Further information:
Steam car to make world speed record bid

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