GUNNING FOR 300MPH
REG COOK’S 2018 ASSAULT ON BONNEVILLE
Around this time every year, the normally sleepy Ness Valley, south east of Auckland, becomes a hive of activity as a small-but-dedicated team of maverick mechanics work day and night prepping a pair of land-speed machines before their boat leaves for the opposite side of the Pacific. This yearly pilgrimage to what must be the most inhospitable racing environment on the planet has been highly successful for Cook Motor Racing (CMR), which has claimed multiple records each visit since first making the trip back in 2011.
This year will mark the third that CMR has made a two-car assault with the NX Coupe dubbed ‘Cookie’ and the streamliner known as ‘Wairua’. Both are multiple record holders and have been powered by everything from Honda K20s, VW diesels, to the bespoke Synergy two-litre V8s, the engine that Cookie will run again for 2018. While record holders in their own right, both vehicles are really just tools for the classroom. The subject is land-speed racing, and the graduation assignment will be running north of 500mph (800kph), speeds no wheel-powered streamliner has gone before. To attempt this, Reg and his team will be building a new car, one that is the culmination of everything they are currently learning from running Cookie and Wairua. Sure, running over 500mph is an ambitious goal, but Reg is methodical in his approach, and the results thus far are painting a promising picture. “Is anyone in my team in their current state capable of running it at 500mph? No, but are they capable of learning? Absolutely. It has to be like going to school; we’re playing with things,” explains Reg.
It’s a goal that Reg and his team have had their eyes set on for five years, with each successive year treated as a stepping stone. Each year, they have been running a little faster, with a slightly bigger team and, inevitably, a more complicated piece of machinery with which to get from point A to point B. For 2018, the streamliner will be powered by a three-litre Judd V10, a prominent engine of the ’90s Formula 1 (F1) era. It’s an unorthodox approach in a sport dominated by US low(ish)-revving engines, but, then again, most things this team do are unorthodox. The three-litre V10 was run throughout the ’90s by teams such as BMS Scuderia Italia, then, later, Judd teamed up with Yamaha and the engine received new heads and a redesign which was used right through till ’97.
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The intake on the nose feeds through a radiator before entering the yetto-be fabricated plenum. Fed via an icebox, the system is proving very effective, with air-intake temps dropping from upwards of 45°C to 15°C
An rpm value of 14,500 results in some serious speed for the valve springs to cope with, the kind of speed that no metal can withstand. game-changer The for F1 was the introduction of buckets in place pneumatic of the springs
Receiving an engine pre-built and ready to run is not what Reg is used to; in fact, he mentions that it’s strange having no control over the engine programme
Judd still offers V10s today, although now they are 4–5.5 litres in capacity, so the three-litre was a special order pieced together using new parts and components left over from the ’90s F1 programme. Like all F1 engines of that period, the heads feature four valves per cylinder, which are controlled by pneumatic valve control, small lightweight buckets that replace the springs, and see upwards of 200psi. These allow the motor to reach 14,500rpm. Such rpm is coped with by the engine being oversquare, with a super short stroke and a rather large 107mm bore. As it’s a low inertia engine there is no flywheel — or pulleys, for that matter. The water pump, four-stage dry sump, and alternator are all driven off the crank. All this results in an advertised 690hp (515kW) from an engine that weighs a touch over 100kg.
Two major factors drew Reg to the Judd over other options on the market. The first being that it’s the only such option that you can purchase outright — other available engines are lease only, from the likes of Ferrari. That kind of arrangement would not have worked when the intention was to add nitrous to the mix. The other appealing fact was that advertised horsepower of 690, and that it has an ever-increasing power curve right to redline.
The water pump, oil pump, and alternator are all mounted directly to the block — talk about compact
The salt at Bonneville is on borrowed time, and the run is becoming shorter and shorter, with this year’s run expected to be around the three-mile (5km) mark, while in the past it was 10 (16km). The team is looking at running at Lake Gairdner in Australia, and even Bolivia is a possibility for the 500mph runs, as the track there is 20 miles (32km) long
The salt is insanely corrosive and takes a huge toll on anything metal. This year, the team is trialling a protective coating on the chassis to avoid having to strip it each year. As you can imagine, it’s a super tight space, and fitting so much inside makes it a complex fit-up
“I think it will take a while to get up to speed, but, at 10,000rpm, it’s making 400hp (298kW), which is enough to drive the car. Once it hits 12[,000rpm], it takes off. At Bonneville, if you hit terminal velocity at, say, 12,000rpm, unless you’ve got increasing horsepower, it will stop there. You can’t have a curve where it peaks at 10,000 and revs to 14,000 but makes less power as it will not go past 10[,000]; it’s like a dyno run,” Reg says.
Currently, a dummy V10 is mounted where the Synergy once was, forward of the front wheels. It has posed a few unique challenges, one being the lack of a flywheel. The result is a machined piece of billet that houses a small driveshaft and a flywheel and starter motor. This piece attaches directly to the billet engine plate, which, as with all the billet suspension components, Richard Mason of Mason Tool and Engineering is responsible for. The eight-speed Weisman land-speed gearbox remains, although, this year, it will have a crown wheel and pinion gearing it to 360mph (579kph) without the need for the reduction box that it ran last year, which caused issues syncing the gear cut.
The MoTeC M150 ECU will remain and is being bolstered by an increase in data logging in the name of not only speed but also safety. A TFX cylinder-pressure sensor system, which measures the pressure inside the combustion chamber at the phenomenal rate of 10 times every degree of rotation, is a real game-changer for the team, explains Reg: “We can now make changes to the tune and see the results internally in the engine, rather than just relying on the speed of a run to gauge it. Up until now, it’s just been educated guesses.” Something that is extremely hard to do given that the V10 will never see the dyno in New Zealand as the Synergy two-litre will. In fact, it’s likely only to be fired once before leaving New Zealand.
During wind-tunnel testing last year, it was found that Cookie was generating 318kg of lift at the base of the rear windshield. This new rear wing with adjustable blade brought that down to 45kg, but resulted in 43kW of drag. It will be run this year as the team is expected to exceed 200mph (322kph)
This tiny pump produces 218psi of pressure to actuate the valves. THe team have had to beef up the on-board air system used for the air shifter to supply 218psi on start-up, at which point the pump takes over
300MPH FOR GUNNING