Blue Flame (car)

Blue Flame (car)

The Blue Flame was the high-performing, ultra high-speed, rocket-powered vehicle which achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 28 1970. The Blue Flame's record 1014.656 km/h (630.478 mph) lasted for 13 years and was set as an average of achieved speed in both ways ((629.412 + 631.367)/2= 630.478 mph). The driver, Gary Gabelich, was of Croatian ancestry and native of San Pedro, California.

The Blue Flame was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Reaction Dynamics, a company formed by Pete Farnsworth, Ray Dausman and Dick Keller who had developed hydrogen peroxide rocket dragsters. The Blue Flame used a combination of hydrogen peroxide and liquified natural gas (LNG), pressurized by helium gas to eclipse previous speed records set with jet engine powered vehicles. LNG was used in the actual record-setting performance but at a lower ratio of LNG to the hydrogen peroxide oxidizer than would be used at maximum design thrust. This was the original plan for the record runs in 1970. The effort was sponsored by The American Gas Association, with technical assistance from the Institute of Gas Technology of Des Plaines, IL.

The engine of the Blue Flame was designed and manufactured by Galaxy Manufacturing Co. of Tonawanda, New York. Galaxy Mfg. Co. was formed in 1966 by Donald J Magro and Gerald Muhs and was principally engaged in flow control systems, cavitating venturi, and precision machining fields.

The Blue Flame engine is a re-generatively cooled, liquid-propellent engine of the variable thrust type. It can operate on either a single or dual-propellant basis. In operation, the engine permits natural gas use as a liquid or gas or both with a two-stage combustion start. The oxidizer flow is established first, then LNG enters a heat exchanger where it vaporizes and is brought to combustion temperature. The gas is then injected into the combustion chamber with the oxygen provided by the hydrogen peroxide. A stable flame front is established and the remaining LNG is injected to bring the engine to full power. Nominal engine running time was 20 seconds at full thrust with 58,000 equivalent horsepower.

The frame of the Blue Flame is a semi-monocoque type aluminum, with welded tubular structure in the nose section and with an aluminum "skin." The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches in length and 7 feet 8 inches wide. It has a 306 1/2 inch wheelbase and an empty weight of 4,000 pounds. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. designed 8:00-25 tires for the vehicle, with an outside diameter of 34.8 inches and smooth tire tread surface to help prevent heat buildup.

ee also

*Rocket car

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