The ULV Team arrived safe and sound in San Francisco on Sunday the 6th September. After some much needed rest the team took delivery of our 3 metre long ARION1 flight case. The ARION1 vehicle made the long journey from Liverpool to the USA fully intact, and our riders Dave and Ken began finishing their high altitude training on their recumbent training bicycles.
The 12 strong team travelled to Battle Mountain Nevada and were fortunate enough to get three days of road testing the ARION1 in Battle Mountain – on a 3 mile long road 30 miles away from route 305 where we will be attempting the land speed record. Thankfully the local County Sheriff in Battle Mountain allowed the engineering team to close the road for our testing.
The morning of Monday 14th saw our first formal run on Route 305 with Ken and Dave – where both riders would be aiming to hit 60 MPH with a 2.5 mile run up. Dave hit 52 MPH and Ken hit 59.7 MPH. The team were really impressed with both the athlete’s and vehicle’s performance and the team were on track for breaking the world record the next day. Unfortunately the weather then took a turn for the worse and Battle Mountain saw some of its worst weather in 3 years! As such the team were unable to race until the following Wednesday evening.
On the Wednesday evening, despite having two days out of the vehicle, Ken Buckley then broke the British Land Speed Record with 69 MPH. The entire team were ecstatic. Two years of hard work were beginning to pay off. The team had a British Land Speed Record under their belts and still had three days of record attempts remaining.
Thursday evening was set to be the day the team took the World Record. However, 2 miles into Ken’s run, and travelling at 55 mph, a sudden gust of wind and an unexpected bump in the road coupled together and Ken lost control of the vehicle. The ARION1 toppled over, slid approximately 50 meters before coming off the tarmacked road and crashing nose-first into a ditch at the side of the road. Ken and the engineering team were completely unharmed in the crash and the vehicle’s rider protection system, including the 5 point harness, kept Ken safe and sound – even though the two halves of the shell separated in the impact. Some video footage of the crash can be found here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFp2gNfnjBA. The crash had snapped the vehicle’s steering mechanism, damaged the camera housing and the exterior aerodynamic shell received a large amount of surface damage.
The team worked day and night, with no sleep, throughout Thursday till Saturday trying to restore the vehicle as best as they could. Unfortunately, the team could not restore the vehicle back to its full aerodynamic performance and as such the World Record was too far out of reach this time. However, both Ken and Dave got back into the vehicle on Saturday evening for one last record attempt. Amazingly, even with a damaged and aerodynamically poor shell, Dave broke Ken’s previous British Land Speed Record with 70.0 MPH. Then, only minutes later, Ken broke Dave’s record with 75.03 MPH!
The ARION1 team now have the two fastest Brits, broke the British Land Speed Record three times and ultimately upped the record by 8 MPH.