The British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers have fabricated the key for Bloodhound Super Sonic Car, the vehicle designed to break the world land speed record, based on the drawings of a 13-year-old boy from Thames Ditton (pop. 6,307). Aleksander Squire, the boy in question, won a national competition based on the simple premise that a very cool car should have a very cool key. His design mirrored the design of the car itself, a product of endless air resistance and shock wave tests. Ultimately, it will be handed to former fighter pilot Andy Green, who intends to drive the car faster than 714 mph, breaking the world land speed record he’s held since 1997.
Bloodhound SSC is a joint civilian and military project that has huge support in England, where Wing Commander Green is a national hero. Chasing land speed records has been part of the English automotive tradition since Lydston Hornsted reset the bar in 1914 by driving 124 mph for a mile. The key contest was — and this should come as no surprise — a PR push to get kids excited about the project and engineering. In a sense, Bloodhound SSC and Green himself have become mascots for engineering education, something the British Government is pushing as hard as it can.
“This project has definitely inspired me to follow a career in engineering,” Squire told GetSurrey.com. “I did want to be an architect.”
Though the project was ultimately far more about design than it was about engineering — the keys are not technical in nature — it effectively illustrated how the one informs the other and served the purpose of selling the Bloodhound project’s Avonmouth “Technical Centre” as a modern Wonka Factory. Participants in the contest, including Squire, will be watching when Green goes for the record — likely some time in 2016. A previous attempt to hit 1,000 mph in South Africa was scrapped this year and a definitive date for the next attempt isn’t set.