Steam car world record broken after 103 years

25 August 2009

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Steam car world record broken after 103 yearsAt 8:19am (California time) on 25 August 2009, Charles Burnett III broke the land speed record for a steam-powered car, achieving an average speed of 139.843mph (225.06km/h) on two runs over a measured mile.

Charles Burnett III drove the car for both runs, reaching peak speeds 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, Fred Marriott, driving a Stanley steamer at Daytona Beach.

Speaking afterwards, Charles Burnett III said: "It was absolutely fantastic, I enjoyed every moment of it. We reached nearly 140mph on the first run. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150mph. 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: "The first run took place at 7:27am when the air temperature was a cool 63 degrees Fahrenheit; the team turned around the car in 52 minutes (with just eight minutes spare) in preparation for its return run. 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 over 6.5 miles. 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 has been a huge challenge for all."

Pam Swanston, wife of the late project manager Frank Swanston, said: "If only Frank was here today, it was his vision that made it a reality. He would be incredibly proud of the team's achievements and always believed we would succeed. Today we celebrate this record for Frank."

More information about the team and the record attempt is available on the British Steam Car Challenge website.

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