LEG­END: ROSCO MCGLASHAN

The fastest Aussie on earth is plan­ning to eclipse the 1000mph mark

Street Machine - - Contents - FOR more in­for­ma­tion and to help sup­port the ef­fort, go to aussiein­vader.com.

HE MIGHT have a few more grey hairs, but 68-year-old Rosco Mcglashan has no plans of slow­ing down thanks to a fire in the belly that was lit when he saw Don­ald Camp­bell break the world land speed record as a kid. Al­ready the fastest Aussie on Earth, with an of­fi­cial record of 500mph (805.5km/h) and a 638mph oneway run that was quicker than the world record at the time, Rosco’s not even close to sat­is­fied.

With the Poms cur­rently hold­ing the land speed record at 763.035mph (1227.985km/h), Rosco wants to smash that and then be the first per­son to reach 1000mph on land. To do it, he’s moved away from his pre­vi­ous jet-pow­ered cars and gone to rocket power.

We caught up with him at his shed in Mul­laloo in the north­ern sub­urbs in Perth. Yep, like a lot of SM fea­ture cars, this one’s been built at home in the garage. Ad­mit­tedly, it’s a very long garage!

You re­ally built the car here in your garage?

We’ve built a $3 mil­lion car with noth­ing. Wed­nes­day is our big day, all the guys are here.

So, a hand­ful of blokes built the car, not some gi­ant team of en­gi­neers?

Yes, it’s taken us nine long years, but our car is now com­pleted.

You’re now on your fifth Aussie In­vader in your quest to be the fastest man on land.

Cars be­come re­dun­dant; it’s been a prob­lem all the way through and it hap­pened to us with Aussie In­vader 3. We built that to go 800mph and then the Poms went out and ran 763mph, so we thought the next car had to be a rocket be­cause a jet doesn’t like su­per­sonic air­flow and has a lot of is­sues at ground level. We knew we needed a shit­load of power – 62,000lb of thrust – more power than any car has ever had, with the abil­ity to go 1000mph.

Do you get along with the other teams chas­ing the record? Richard Noble, who is spear­head­ing the Thrust Blood­hound pro­ject, rang me up and said: “I wanted you to be one of the first guys to know that we’re build­ing a 1000mph car.” Richard Noble and Andy Green have both stayed here at my place. How do you go about de­sign­ing a car like this? I’ve got some very good peo­ple be­hind me; the con­cept is mine, but the en­gi­neer­ing is very com­plex. I’ve got two re­ally good en­gi­neers. Johnny Ack­royd has done a lot of the work and the calcs and is re­ally old-school. Paul Martin is a com­puter whiz and does all the FEA [fi­nite el­e­ment analysis] and CFD [com­pu­ta­tional flow dy­nam­ics]. The Aus­tralian De­fence Force Academy has done a lot of CFD work, Frank Soto in Wol­lon­gong has done a shit­load, Curtin Univer­sity has helped too. Your pre­vi­ous records were set on salt, but now you’re look­ing for a suit­able clay sur­face to run on. Why’s that? Even tak­ing off on the salt, it’s scary as shit and skates around. Any steer­ing in­put you put in, one wheel is slow­ing down and the other is speed­ing up and you’re al­ways chas­ing it. We want the car to sink into the sur­face a lit­tle. Have you ever raced on clay be­fore? No, but I’ve been to Black Rock many times and done some test­ing. Fun­nily enough, the Poms put Black Rock on the map when they couldn’t run at Bon­neville any­more, be­cause they needed a softer sur­face. John Ack­royd was one of the guys that dis­cov­ered it. Richard Noble set the record at 622mph back in ’83. The new car is quite dif­fer­ent in that it doesn’t use a space­frame. If you want to go to the moon, you start off with a cylin­dri­cal shape with a point at the top; you sit on the point and have a rocket mo­tor out the arse end. So ba­si­cally, it’s a space rocket ly­ing on its side, but we’ve got to sit on the cen­tre of grav­ity, so we sit in the mid­dle of it. De­sign­ing and mount­ing the front sus­pen­sion must have been a chal­lenge! No one has ever con­ceived any­thing where you’ve got a pipe and then you’ve got to some­how put a sus­pen­sion on the front of it. Ev­ery­thing else you see has a re­ally good struc­ture for the sus­pen­sion to mount. Some of the best sus­pen­sion guys have looked at it and to get the caster right is a re­ally tricky thing. It’s go­ing to be one of those ‘suck it and see’ things; it may not even work, it might not steer, it’s never been done be­fore! If we get to 600mph in this car and it’s not self­s­teer­ing go­ing straight dead ahead, and if I’ve got to put any steer­ing in­put into it, then I’ll have to shut it down. Are there any suit­able lakes here in Aus­tralia? It re­ally de­pends on the spon­sor. If we pick up Amer­i­can Red Bull, for ex­am­ple, we’ll run at a place called Di­a­mond Val­ley near the Ne­vada-utah bor­der. If we run in Aus­tralia, it will be at the Bilpa Morea clay­pan in Queens­land, but the big prob­lem with that is that the near­est LOX [liq­uid oxy­gen] tank is in Mt Isa about

TAK­ING OFF ON THE SALT IS SCARY AS SHIT. ANY STEER­ING IN­PUT YOU PUT IN, ONE WHEEL IS SLOW­ING DOWN AND THE OTHER IS SPEED­ING UP AND YOU’RE AL­WAYS CHAS­ING IT

480km away. You can’t put LOX in the car and have it sit for a long pe­riod of time or it will freeze our main­frame up and it could snap. You’re keep­ing your op­tions open with the type of pro­pel­lants you might use – why is that? We’re do­ing some test­ing with In­teror­bital at Mo­jave, and in­stead of RFNA [red

fum­ing ni­tric acid], we’re go­ing with WFNA [white fum­ing ni­tric acid] and tur­pen­tine as a fuel, but it’s a spe­cial mix that they have de­vel­oped. It’s not hy­per­golic [self-ig­nit­ing] by it­self, so they’ve de­vel­oped an in­hibitor that you put in with the tur­pen­tine that makes it hy­per­golic. Ev­ery­thing is so guarded in Amer­ica, so to pass on the se­cret of do­ing it can be con­sid­ered arms deal­ing. We’re go­ing to do a test with them, and if we’re happy with ev­ery­thing, then we’re go­ing to use one of their 50,000lb thrust mo­tors that they’ve al­ready de­vel­oped for their launch to get the car rolling, but still keep all the big tanks in it for the 62,000lb thrust mo­tor. We’d pos­si­bly be able to run 800mph with that smaller mo­tor, but there’s a bit to do yet. The record is 763mph, so 800 would get us on the draw­ing board.

So where is the car at right now?

Ev­ery­thing we’ve got right now is set up to run hy­dro­gen perox­ide, but be­cause of how hard it is to source these days, we’ve got to go over to WFNA. If we de­cide to go with the In­teror­bital en­gine and fuel, then we have to go through the whole rocket sys­tem again and fig­ure out what sort of per­for­mance we’re go­ing to get out of the mo­tor, what sort of flow rate we’re go­ing to need and make sure we’ve got all the fuel side of it worked out. It’s not a big drama to change the en­gine at this stage? The rocket is on rails, so we can change the mo­tor eas­ily. The big thing is the tanks; they have to be fil­a­ment-wound out of a thing called Nitronic 40 stain­less steel, and we need to con­firm that the tank vol­ume we have is suf­fi­cient. So what’s the hard­est part or the big­gest chal­lenge you face build­ing the car? The hard­est part is try­ing to go down to Bun­nings to buy a hand­ful of nuts and bolts and you can’t get the money to buy ’em, but it’s never been any dif­fer­ent. We sell a bit of real es­tate to pay the bills, but that’s about it; the fi­nanc­ing has al­ways been the big­gest strug­gle. We re­ally have to get an in­jec­tion of cash pretty soon. Ev­ery­thing we’ve ever done, we’ve done it with­out any money – and I’m not cry­ing; that’s the most ex­cit­ing thing about what we do. I’ve been do­ing it for that long, I must have ‘Pro­fes­sional Bum’ writ­ten on my head. Wher­ever I go in to get some­thing, they’ll put the stuff on the counter, we’ll talk for a while and when I ask what they’re worth, they’ll say: “Just take ’em, mate.” Shit like that hap­pens all the time; that’s how we built the whole car. You’ve been the fastest Aussie for a long time, but it’s the world record that you re­ally want? I’ve said for­ever, I’ve only got to hold that world land speed record for a day and I’ll s be a happy man.

Aussie In­vader III with its draped flag liv­ery must go down as one of the best-look­ing paintjobs of all time. This car was de­signed to go over 800mph, and man­aged a max­i­mum of 638mph in 1996 but could not make a re­turn run due to weather. Thrust SSC then went 763mph and broke the sound bar­rier in the process

Rosco Mcglashan

In be­tween world land speed record tilts, Rosco has been a reg­u­lar com­peti­tor in jet­pow­ered drag­sters 2: You think a rocket-pow­ered go-kart is crazy? How about a mo­tor­bike then! This thing was so fast they wouldn’t let it race on Aussie tracks. They weren’t too crazy about the hy­dro­gen perox­ide fuel, ei­ther 1: Yes, that’s Rosco in a rock­et­pow­ered go-kart that he helped de­velop in the US back in 1980. It went [email protected] and is still the fastest go-kart in the world; it’s on dis­play at the York Mo­tor Mu­seum in WA 3: The aptly named Crazy Horse was a drag bike pow­ered by an in­jected 327 Chev. It had no clutch so Rosco rocked it off a cra­dle with the wheels spin­ning to take off. Yes, it spat him off quite a few times!

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