EV Speed Record Spoiled by Bad Weather, a Pothole, and a Runaway Dog

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Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

One filled pothole could have turned the Bluebird’s UK land speed record attempt from a disaster into a success. Looking to break the existing speed record for an electric vehicle of 137mph, driver Joseph Wales’s vehicle struck a pothole in the sand.

The resulting jolt to the car damaged its bodywork, steering components and suspension. The Bluebird slid sideways going at 100mph, effectively ending the run and foiling the record attempt. Wales walked away uninjured.

But it wasn’t just the pothole that messed things up. Poor visibility hampered Wales’ vision; otherwise he might have avoided the pothole. An earlier run was delayed by a wayward dog that made its way onto the race path.

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Bluebird is something of a family business — or dynasty. Sir Malcolm Campbell set the World Land Speed Record in 1927 of 175mph, in an early version of the car. His son Donald Campbell followed him into racing; Donald’s nephew Don Wales set the electric land speed record at 137mph in 2000. Current driver Joseph is Don’s son.

But the Bluebird team does not consider this failure to be a major setback. This was the first time the vehicle had raced on sand, and it was a test as much as it was a record attempt.

They envision the Bluebird breaking the standing world land speed record for an EV, 307.7mph, and eventually hitting 500mph. But for now, even 150mph, which an electric motorcycle can do, would be a success.

Filling some potholes and keeping the dogs on leashes would be a good start.

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