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Nina Rindt's rocket car... honestly!


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#1 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 10:17

I recently had a few emails from Land Speed record historian Thomas 'Pork Pie' Graf about the SMI MOTIVATOR rocket car which Kitty O'Neal and Hal Needham ran at Alvord and Mud Lake, Tonopah in the mid 70s. This was the for-runner of the subsequently notorious BUDWEISER ROCKET which it was claimed, despite a lack of officially acceptable evidence, had broken the sound barrier in 1979. Almost no one now believes the story and the Budweiser has apparently been taken from display at it's long term home, the Smithsonian, and is in storage.

Thomas tells me the SMI was crashed at Mud Lake during testing ( shown on ITV's WORLD OF SPORT in Britain a few weeks later) and the chassis sufficiently bent to write the car off. Afterwards it was bought by none other than Nina Rindt for display at the JOCHEN RINDT SHOW. It only appeared twice, the last occasion was at Stuttgart in 1980 where Kitty O Neal was a guest. Since then it's been in storage.

One wonders what else Mrs Rindt has in the garage? And also why the SMI hasn't been displayed anywhere in the past 30 years.

Here's the car at Mud Lake prior to it's 'off'
Note the feature-film style movie camera. Needham was a Hollywood stuntman-turned-director who made SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and CANNONBALL RUN around this time.

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#2 Gary C

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 10:20

That looks like a video camera, not a film camera to me. Look at the large electrical leads running to it.

#3 hansfohr

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 11:23

On this thread you'll find a detailed article about Needham's run at Mud Lake in 1977:
http://www.landracin...p?topic=4117.15

'From what I heard' the SMI Motivator (here seen at Alvord/Oregan in 1976) is still in Nina's possession.
Posted Image

The SMI Motivator on display at the 1979 Jochen Rindt Show in Essen: 3rd from the right Kitty O'Neill, on the far right Nina (not showing her brightest smile). I can't recall Kitty turning up in a show at Stuttgart which can't be the Jochen Rindt Show.
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Edited by hansfohr, 10 March 2010 - 11:29.


#4 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 13:08

That looks like a video camera, not a film camera to me. Look at the large electrical leads running to it.


Could be. Looks like a there is an empty slot on top for a film cartiridge, so maybe the power lead is for a remote video monitor? Did they have then in 1975?

Given the Hollywood connection there must be a lot of high quality footage of this project sat in cans somewhere.



#5 f1steveuk

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 13:37

Kitty was a brave woman, and deaf I recall? I believe she held the women's land speed record at one time, and also drove Lee Taylor's Hustler water speed record boat (re named "Captain Crazy") to some very high speeds.

I often wondered where the Motivator went!!!

#6 hansfohr

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 14:17

Kitty was a brave woman, and deaf I recall? I believe she held the women's land speed record at one time, and also drove Lee Taylor's Hustler water speed record boat (re named "Captain Crazy") to some very high speeds.

I often wondered where the Motivator went!!!

Kitty lost all hearing at 4 months of age when suffering from measles, mumps and smallpox. AFAIK the women's landspeedrecord is still her's since December 1976. Kitty - who never really liked the media attention - also showed her trade in dragracing and freejumping.

Edited by hansfohr, 10 March 2010 - 14:17.


#7 Pullman99

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 17:18

This was the for-runner of the subsequently notorious BUDWEISER ROCKET which it was claimed, despite a lack of officially acceptable evidence, had broken the sound barrier in 1979. Almost no one now believes the story and the Budweiser has apparently been taken from display at it's long term home, the Smithsonian, and is in storage.


I was aware that the "original" Budweiser Rocket was in the Smithsonian following its "record" in 1979 but that Needham had built some show cars at about that time as well. I think that Harrah's in Reno may have had one of these for a while but the only one that I inspected closely was at The International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega when I visited in 1983 and 1985. The Curator there maintained that "his" Budweiser Rocket was the genuine original but I remain convinced that it was not. It seemed to have what were basically scaffold tubes forming the suspension instead of anything with an aerodynamic profile and no mechanical "innards" whatsoever.. Presumably the original car is still in the care of The Smithsonian?

I know that there was some debate at one time as to whether or not the SMI Motivator and the Budweiser Rocket were one and the same vehicle but I imagine that is not actually the case.

Maybe Mr Needham or Stan Barrett could enlighten us as to "what really happened" someday! :)




#8 RA Historian

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 17:26

I think that Harrah's in Reno may have had one of these for a while

Don't know about the Budweiser car, but I did see the "Flying Caduceus" LSR car in the Harrah museum in Reno a number of years ago.
Tom

#9 f1steveuk

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 17:29

Hi Ian!

Stan doesn't like talking about the "Rocket", not because he doesn't like to, but he always thinks if he starts talking about it, he'll want to do it again!

I was lead to believe there wis one original Bud' Rocket, and six replica's, with fibreglass panels over steel tubes, and when one considers Hal's "real" job, it would be easy for him to do.

I have no doubt that the Bud' Rocket didn't exceed the sound barrier, and as it rode rough shod over the rules, it was no where near an LSR, but Stan was extraordinarily brave to drive it. The footage of him igniting the Sidewinder when the Romatec was at full speed, and the rear wheels lifting off the ground and it wheel barrowing through the course makes you physically cringe. I like Stan's qoute regarding lighting the Sidewinder, I paraphrase,

"we weren't certain what would happen when I pressed the button. Would the car accelerate, or would it come through the back of my headrest!!"

#10 SeanBlue

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 19:16

"we weren't certain what would happen when I pressed the button. Would the car accelerate, or would it come through the back of my headrest!!"

The man was a true pioneer and knew how to live life on the edge

#11 TrackDog

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:49

I remember seeing a picture of the car at speed in the newspaper a few days after it ran, and the caption said that the cloud of dust being kicked up AHEAD of the car was proof that it did indeed break the sound barrier, if only briefly. IIRC, either the car couldn't be refueled and restarted in the hour time allotted between runs, or the Sidewinder would have had to have been replaced, which would have been a major undertaking. I don't have the picture, and wouldn't know where to find it online, but I remember seeing it.



Dan

#12 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 00:37

The info from 'Pork Pie' is that the SMI was bent in the Mud Lake incident and sold to Nina, the first BUDWIESER was also bent in an incident at Bonneville and later used as a display car, the second version, the one with the sidewinder rocket added, was claimed to have gone supersonic at Edwards and ended up in the Smithsonian(but is currently in storage in Indiana), but only one mock-up was actually subsequently made for exhibition use.
Until I got into this correspondence recently I always assumed SMI and the BUD' were one and the same - I had no idea there was 3 working cars in addition to a mock up.
Agreed Barret was a brave brave man . Pity the bull**it that surrounded the project has always obscured his role somewhat.



#13 f1steveuk

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 09:14

The reson the "Rocket's" record could never be seen to be "official is that the rules state, two runs in opposite directions through the same measured mile/kilo. Turn around within one hour.

The "Rocket" was timed through 1/4 mile with a radar gun and never turned around, still doesn't change my view of Stanton as a very very brave man!!

#14 Pullman99

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 09:24

Don't know about the Budweiser car, but I did see the "Flying Caduceus" LSR car in the Harrah museum in Reno a number of years ago.Tom


Thanks fpr mentioning Dr Nathan Ostich's "Flying Caduceus". This was the very first jet car to make an LSR attempt and I was always fascinated by it. 1960 at Bonneville must have been a bit like being stuck in a land speed record traffic jam! I too saw it at Harrah's on a couple of visits some years ago but I haven't been there since the collection was re-organised as a Stae of Nevada run facility (I hope I've got that right). The Flying Caduceus is, hopefully, still preserved there.

Thanks to Steve and Simon on further information on the Budweiser Rocket. So, the Smithsonian has consigned the "supersonic" car to their storage facility in Indiana. It's a bit of a comedown, since I seem to remember that they made a great fuss of its presence in Washington after 1979! Simon also mentions an earlier car to the Smithsonian / "supersonic" one. I think this was a vehicle of smaller overall dimensions and may have been a copy of SMI Motivator. It is this link that may have led to the supposition that Motivator and the Budweiser Rocket were one and the same. At this distance, I think it would be difficult, without Hal Needham's input, to determine exactly how many show cars were built. Like Steve, I seem to remember the figure of six was mentioned previously. There was an author called Peter J R Holthusen a few years back who seemed to have inside knowledge of the whole project, including involvement in a film documentary (?). If he's on the Forum, maybe he might like to add to the debate.

Track Dog mentions the photograph of the air and dust being disturbed ahead of the vehicle at high speed. As I understand it, in the transonic zone prior to approaching the speed of sound, this is a known effect and is unlikely to be conclusive evidence of the car actually exceeding the speed of sound. I recall some dialogue with a USAC official some years ago that they remained unconvinced by the whole episode and that there was no proper speed recording ever associated with the attempt. In fact, I believe that they doubted that the car had ever gone much above 600 mph let alone 700mph.

I don't want this to sound that I think the whole Budweiser Rocket episode was a sham or fraudulent in any way. I was amazed and delighted by the publicity that it attracted at the time (I had been hoping that someone would eventually break the sound barrier on land ever since seeing film of Craig Breedlove and Spirit of America Sonic 1) but I was also amazed that the team had not tried to build a car properly to LSR rules and had not mounted a serious attempt on Gary Gabelich's then nine year old record. They clearly had the talent. But maybe it wasn't Hal Needham's desire to do other than he did.

Either way, there's no doubting Stan Barrett's bravery and I only think it's a shame that so much controversy has followed this "record" down the years. He and that team deserve more. It's time for the truth!

Edited by Pullman99, 20 March 2010 - 07:21.


#15 f1steveuk

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 11:29

I've asked this before, and got no where, but does anyone know what happened to City of Sterling?? I saw pictures of a near complete car, many years ago, and it was a design that was supposed to be targeting 1000mph. It just seems strange to have got so close to finishing the build, and never have run it!

#16 RA Historian

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 15:59

serious attempt on Gary Gabelich's then nine year old record.

Just had to put in a word about the Gabelich car. (Please note this is not in any way meant to be taken as criticism of Pullman99!) Over the years history has been obscured with regards to the Blue Flame car which Gabelich drove. Far too often I have seen this entire effort attributed to Gabelich with no mention whatsoever of the actual owners/designers/entrants of the car. The Blue Flame was conceived, built, owned, and run by Reaction Dynamics of Milwaukee, Wis. The two gentlemen who were Reaction Dynamics were Dick Keller and Peter Farnsworth. Gabelich was just the driver. I wish to quickly state, though, that going 600+ mph while strapped to a rocket goes well beyond the "just the driver" stage and I do not wish to diminish in anyway Gabelich's participation. He was a brave young man indeed. But my point is that Gabelich drove the beast, but did not build it.

My knowledge of this stems not only from the Road & Track article of the day, but also because I was involved in business dealings with Keller and Farnsworth at the time in one of my previous careers.
Tom

Edited by RA Historian, 12 March 2010 - 15:59.


#17 Pullman99

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 17:04

Just had to put in a word about the Gabelich car. The Blue Flame was conceived, built, owned, and run by Reaction Dynamics of Milwaukee, Wis. The two gentlemen who were Reaction Dynamics were Dick Keller and Peter Farnsworth.Tom


Hi Tom :wave:

I thought The Blue Flame was one of the most splendid vehicles ever to attampt the WLSR so no offence, it was just simpler in context with this thread to describe in a previous post the 1970 record as Gabelich's. Quite rightly, there have been numerous articles on the car over the years but it is often the case in the popular press that the driver is given more exposure than the designers and constructors. Today, the car is part of the collection of the Auto und Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany and was "presented" to the museum by Gabelich's widow. I am not sure if this means that it is now owned outright by the museum or not. Sinsheim remains on my "to do" list (if only for the Tupolev TU144) and I am not sure how much prominence The Blue Flame is given there. As the last US holder of the WLSR I would have thought it would be more appropriate to have it on display in The Smithsonian Institution rather than the Budweiser Rocket.

I met Gary Gabelich just the once when I was a member of the Thrust 2 team in 1983. Gary turned up at Gerlach to look at his eventual succssor's attempt and later enjoyed a game of pool at Bruno's Club. Apart from all of that, The Blue Flame still held the kilometre record until 1997.

Edited by Pullman99, 01 June 2010 - 07:01.


#18 SeanBlue

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 18:15

I remember seeing a picture of the car at speed in the newspaper a few days after it ran, and the caption said that the cloud of dust being kicked up AHEAD of the car was proof that it did indeed break the sound barrier, if only briefly.


I never took physics in school. Why would that be?

#19 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 14:37

Think bow wave on a boat, faster it goes, the further ahead of the bow the wave appears, then substitute air for water

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#20 Duc-Man

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 14:52

Sinsheim remains on my "to do" list (if only for the Tupolev TU144) and I am not sure how much prominence The Blue Flame is given there. As the last US holder of the WLSR I would have thought it would be more appropriate to have it on display in The Smithsonian Institution rather than the Budweiser Rocket.


Link to the website of the museum in Sinsheim about the Blue Flame

I was there a few times and I don't really like it because it's very 'english'; that means way to much stuff on way to little space. And the place is gigantic...


#21 cpbell

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 18:13

WRT Stan Barratt (sp?), I read recently that he passed away a few years ago. Is this correct?

#22 f1steveuk

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 18:28

WRT Stan Barratt (sp?), I read recently that he passed away a few years ago. Is this correct?



Born June 26, 1943 (1943-06-26) so he's 66, and he answered my e mail just before Christmas!!

#23 cpbell

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 19:24

Born June 26, 1943 (1943-06-26) so he's 66, and he answered my e mail just before Christmas!!


Oops, can't think where I read this erroneous information. Thanks for correcting me!

#24 Pullman99

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 08:19

I've asked this before, and got no where, but does anyone know what happened to City of Sterling?? I saw pictures of a near complete car, many years ago, and it was a design that was supposed to be targeting 1000mph. It just seems strange to have got so close to finishing the build, and never have run it!


Morning all! :wave:

The "might have beens" are scattered throughout history but are no less fascinating for that. There have been quite a few since 1960 but City of Sterling seems to have been more of a serious project than others. Does anyone know where Bill Gaynor is now? The City of Sterling (Illinois) itself may have had an involvement promotionally and it may be worthwhile contacting their press office to see if they can provide any leads. Steve: I would be happy to do this if you like. I love mysteries! :)

The Bill Frederick / Hal Needham cars are part of the bigger picture too. There are parallels here with the saga of Sig Haugdahl's Wisconsin Special. I now understand that the Talladega car is actually the (damaged and rebuilt) car that ran at Bonneville although their website claims it as the actual "Sound Barrier" car. There's more to be discovered about all of this, I am sure, but without input from Mr Needham it would be difficult to take much further. Hal Needham is about 80 years old now. Does anyone know if Bill Frederick still around? Also, if The Smithsonian Institution has now placed the "Edwards AFB" Budweiser Rocket in storage it begs the question as to what they're going to do with it long term. Do they own it, or was ownership retained by Hal Needham and / or Budweiser? Would be great to see one, or all, of the Budweisers - and SMI Motivator - together sometime. They're all elements of the same story.

Ian.

Edited by Pullman99, 20 March 2010 - 11:25.


#25 f1steveuk

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 10:45

Ian, if you can find something, I have no problem, I've drawn nothing but blanks, and as the car was all but complete, it seems strange the way it disapeared!!!

#26 PorkPie

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:17

On this thread you'll find a detailed article about Needham's run at Mud Lake in 1977:
http://www.landracin...p?topic=4117.15

'From what I heard' the SMI Motivator (here seen at Alvord/Oregan in 1976) is still in Nina's possession.
Posted Image

The SMI Motivator on display at the 1979 Jochen Rindt Show in Essen: 3rd from the right Kitty O'Neill, on the far right Nina (not showing her brightest smile). I can't recall Kitty turning up in a show at Stuttgart which can't be the Jochen Rindt Show.
Posted Image






Hi Folks,

I'm "Pork Pie" - the guy where Simon got his information. In advance I like to apologize for my bad English - I'm a German and use English only from time to time.

First, I like to say thank you for the 1979 picture Nina Rindt and the SMI - because, it confirmed that the Budweiser, which run to this time at Edwards and the SMI can't be the same car.

About the SMI on shows - as Simon wrote in his first note - the car appears only twice on shows - the first time at the Jochen Rindt show in Essen in 79 and the second time in February 1980 in Stuttgart-Killesberg at the CMT (this is a touristik, traveling and car show which had always two big halls with race and "action" cars). I done there slides from the car - also with Kitty O'Neil (Hamilton) - she was so kind to talk with me, which is a real funny think, due to this that she is lip reading (a German who tries to speak proper English :rotfl: ). It start more hilerious when there was a raffle and Kitty had the number for the first prize - she was not aware of, due to this that she couldn't hear the announcer. Kitty is very publicity shy.

Kitty and I are still in contact - a while ago we had some emails, when I tried to find out where the car is now - the last location I knew was in Belgian...from there on I lost his "way".

More about the SMI - originally the Billy Meyer "Aquaslide 'n' Dive Special" - and the Budweiser Rocket. In 1999/2000 I travelled around the States and saw all three Budweiser and done slides from the three vehicles to show the different. I also know Jim Freeman, he is the executive director from the Talladega NASCAR museum where the modified Bonneville racer is. I talked with him about his Budweiser - and he was very pleased to learn more about his version. To the mock up at Richard Childress museum - there I had the luck that the curator of the museum, Bill Eichelberger, was so kind to show me the museum on a not open day - so we had enough time to talk about the mock up. He confirmed the three Budweiser - the mock up by Richard was given to Richard as a thank you by Bill Frederick, therefore that he support the Budweiser campaign (which was never publiced). To Bill's word, all three was to the same time somewhere on a show after the Edwards run.

The Ex Smithsonian - it was my fault (at last) that the car is not anymore in the museum. When the car run at Bonneville or at Edwards - the speed which was publiced was the speed measured over a distance from 1/100 mile - 16.09 m by satelite.....interested is that they measure for the 739 mph sound barrier run also the flying mile.......and this average caused a problem for the team. The mile average was 666 mph.....mathematically it is not possible to run a peak speed in the center of the measured mile of 739 mph when the average over the whole mile is 666 mph.
The other issue on the 1/100 mile distance - when the measured time over this distance had a mistake of "1", in the fifth digital behind the dot (0.0000X) the average speed would be 30 mph different......(709 or 769 mph).....the average on this day was only 7 mph over the sound barrier.......
I wrote all my informations and calculations to Washington state.....they check everything....wrote me a thank you and kicked the car out of the museum......may be I was only the last stone who tooks care that they done it - but somehow I was involed....

To Edwards and sound barrier - there is a letter from Chuck Yeager about the Budweiser - Frederick and Needham is using this letter that Chuck confirms that the car broke the sound barrier. The original letter is by Craig Breedlove - Craig showed me this letter during his Spirit of America Sonic Arrow campaign in his home/work shop in Rio Vista/CA - and Craig showed me that Chuck only confirmed that it is may be possible to break the sound barrier with this car. When I talked with **** Yeager at Black Rock in 1997, he said to me, yes, this is so correct understand - he only wrote that it is "possible" - but not that it was done....also he was not there at Edwards when Stan Barrett done the Sound Barrier run....

Also interest on this - Stan Barrett asked Richard Noble what he has to do that the people believe that he broke the sound barrier (by the way, Stan was really brave to ride this car)....Richards answer was....typically British dry...."do it again"......


This to the mystery SMI and Budweiser Rocket.....would be great to figure out where the SMI is now, because Kitty is interest to buy the SMI....

Edited by PorkPie, 02 May 2010 - 08:53.


#27 PorkPie

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:51

Thanks fpr mentioning Dr Nathan Ostich's "Flying Caduceus". This was the very first jet car to make an LSR attempt and I was always fascinated by it. 1960 at Bonneville must have been a bit like being stuck in a land speed record traffic jam! I too saw it at Harrah's on a couple of visits some years ago but I haven't been there since the collection was re-organised as a Stae of Nevada run facility (I hope I've got that right). The Flying Caduceus is, hopefully, still preserved there.

Thanks to Steve and Simon on further information on the Budweiser Rocket. So, the Smithsonian has consigned the "supersonic" car to their storage facility in Indiana. It's a bit of a comedown, since I seem to remember that they made a great fuss of its presence in Washington after 1979! Simon also mentions an earlier car to the Smithsonian / "supersonic" one. I think this was a vehicle of smaller overall dimensions and may have been a copy of SMI Motivator. It is this link that may have led to the supposition that Motivator and the Budweiser Rocket were one and the same. At this distance, I think it would be difficult, without Hal Needham's input, to determine exactly how many show cars were built. Like Steve, I seem to remember the figure of six was mentioned previously. There was an author called Peter J R Holthusen a few years back who seemed to have inside knowledge of the whole project, including involvement in a film documentary (?). If he's on the Forum, maybe he might like to add to the debate.



Either way, there's no doubting Stan Barrett's bravery and I only think it's a shame that so much controversy has followed this "record" down the years. He and that team deserve more. It's time for the truth!



Sorry about, but the Flying Caduceus was not the first jet car built to go for the LSR record - the first one was the Russian GAZ-TR in 1954 using a Klimow WK-1A jet engine from a MIG-17 jet fighter. The GAT-TR was the modified GAZ Torpedo from 1951 which had originally a 4 cylinder piston engine installed. The chassis was length by 1 m. They still used normal passenger car tire....
November 1954 they done the first tests at the airfield of Gorki with M. A. Meteljow on the wheel. at 185 mph (300 kph) the car went, due to blew of the standard tires, out of controll, flipped and was totally destroyed, Meteljow was serious injured but survived. The project was closed and for a long time under top secret...

By the way, the Ostich car is still in Reno.

To Peter Holthusen - he wrote a book about speed record - later he update this book and it was published a second time - which is in one word a nice illustration book (with some strange comment to the picture) but as a fact book about the history of land speed record it is the most worst book which was every written - it is far out of to be "correct"....

To Stan Barrett and the Budweiser project.....unfortunately, as I wrote before, Stan was a very brave man (so as Kitty O'Neil was a very brave woman) running the SMI and the Budweiser - but Stan is a victim in the whole Budweiser show - a serious campaign and Stan could be official in the record books - but so he is one of the questionable person in the long history of speed records. Kitty had the luck that a FIM official confirmed (I own a copy of this confirmation) that the SMI run to there regulation in Oregon but the average was never certified by the FIM as a official record - may be Frederick and Needham never paid the fee - also Needham was interest to set the record himself. Kitty also set the woman water speed record with "Captain Crazy" in 1977 - the former Lee Taylor "Hustler" - with this average she is still the fourth fastest person on water, ever.

#28 arttidesco

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 11:13

Fascinating topic, I remember reading about Stan Barretts record attempt around Christmas 1979/80 in Autosport, regrettably I no longer have the copy, from what I remember part of the evidence that the car had exceeded 'the speed of sound' (actually a variable speed anyway) was that a distinctive diamond pattern that could be seen in the exhaust.

Can any of the pilots or plane spotters amongst us confirm that this diamond pattern is a known tell tale of supersonic travel ?

At the Bud Rocket site it is suggested that Needham's team had established in trials that they did not have enough power to break and FIA or FIM sanctioned world record attempt so they switched the goal to a unsanctioned 'peak' speed run to break the the sound barrier.

Unfortunately the radar gun used recorded a vehicle moving at 38 mph, which turned out to be a truck in the distance, not sure how Needham's team calculated an eventual top speed of 739.666 mph (Mach 1.01).

Wondering if anyone can point us in the direction of any photographs of either M.A. Meteljow or the MIG powered GAT-TR he along with all the other's who attempt and have attempted to 'go faster than ever' surely deserves some web recognition.

Edited by arttidesco, 02 May 2010 - 11:14.


#29 D-Type

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:03

A quick google turned up a site featuring models; Touchstone Models, which does at least show what the GAZ-TR and other Soviet cars looked like.

Edited by D-Type, 02 May 2010 - 12:04.


#30 arttidesco

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 13:56

Gosh ! Thanks D Type, what a find, rather reminded me of Gerry Andersons Supercar although on closer inspection maybe not, I wonder what the GAZ-TR might have achieved with some proper performance wheels and tyres ?

Any one notice the similarity between the 1978 KHADI - 9 vehicles and the Motivator & Bud cars on the same page KHADI 9 ?

Edited by arttidesco, 02 May 2010 - 14:00.


#31 Pullman99

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 20:37

Sorry about, but the Flying Caduceus was not the first jet car built to go for the LSR record - the first one was the Russian GAZ-TR in 1954 using a Klimow WK-1A jet engine from a MIG-17 jet fighter. The GAT-TR was the modified GAZ Torpedo from 1951 which had originally a 4 cylinder piston engine installed. The chassis was length by 1 m. They still used normal passenger car tire....By the way, the Ostich car is still in Reno.


Hi Thomas! :wave:

Thank you so much for your post. I had forgotten all about the Soviet efforts. Maybe I was thinking that the "Flying Caduceus" seemed so much more of a serious effort!

Fascinated by your visits to see all three of the Budweiser Rocket cars. I was told that there may have been some additonal "display" cars but have no positive evidence of this. If you do find the SM1 Motivator's wherabouts, I am sure that there are quite a few TNFrs that would love to know. This saga would surely make a splendid documentary. One telling the real story!




#32 arttidesco

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 21:44

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Found this in an old diary 18th Dec 1979 looks like a Daily Telegraph clip thought this might be of interest to readers of the thread it reads :

By Ian Brodie in Mojave, California

Stan Barrett, a Hollywood stunt man whose previous feats of daring were as a double for someone else, yesterday entered the record books as the first person to break the sound barrier on land and to drive at more than 700 mph.

Barrett, 36, steering a cigar shaped vehicle powered by a rocket motor and a military missile along a six-mile stretch of dry lake bed in the Mohave Desert, reached a speed of 739.666 mph, according to US Air Force radar.

He made his run at 20F, when the sound barrier, which drops with temprature, was 731.9 mph.

There was no sonic boom but those of us on the sidelines heard a low rumble. Barrett said at top speed he felt resistance and then a smooth patch followed by a jolt as though he had hit a brick wall.

He had wedged himself into the tiny cockpit of the bright red Budweiser rocket at dawn, placed an oxygen mask over his hace, ignited the rocket and tensely awaited the countdown.

Flash of flame

Then in a flash of flame and dust, he roared down the course with a force of 48,000 horsepower. After 12 seconds he boosted this to 60,000 horsepower by firing his Sidewinder missile which his sponsors had bought from the Pentagon.

Normally the sidewinder is used as a heat seeking air to air missile.

The added power was enough to give the extra miles per hour Barrett has been seeking since September when he first beat the previous highest timed speed achieved on land by man - 631 mph set by Gary Gabelich in a rocket car in 1970.

But to get the added thrust to carry Barrett from the 600 mph range to the transonic and supersonic levels required the "MORE" (my caps) than doubling the amount of power.*

At the end of his Supersonic run, Barrett who calls himself a "born again Christian" wiped tears from his eyes and paused to say a prayer.

Joining him in this moment of reverence in the desert were Hal Needham owner of the rocket car and himself a former Hollywood stunt man who went on to make a fortune directing such films as 'Smokey and the Bandit', and 'Hopper,' and Bill Frederick, a veteran engineer who designed and built the vehicle and who has dreamed of breaking the sound barrier since he was a boy.

Barrett, far removed from the usual image of a hell-raising stunt man, rewarded himself with a tub of strawberry ice cream.

He was joined by his wife Penny, and their two son's and daughter aged five to eight.

Among the first to congratulate Barrett was Chuck Yeager, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier, who became the first man through the sound barrier when he flew a Bell XS-1 rocket plane in 1947 over the same terrain as Barrett.

Although Barrett has no race-driving experience, he was chosen to drive the Budweiser rocket because of his superbly quick reflexes. He keeps in condition by running ten miles a day and doing 500 sit ups.

A former Golden Gloves lightweight boxer, he was best known before driving the rocket as a stunt-man stand in for Paul Newman and Burt Reynolds.

His most spectacular stunt was in 'Hopper' when he drove a motor-cycle under a moving lorry.

Barrett had an agonising eleven hour wait while his speed was confirmed. He had run out of fuel 900 feet short of two timing devices and so had to rely on the radar at Edwards Air Force base.

The U.S. Air Force did not relish being in the position of sole arbiter. After a prolonged analysis of a computer printout and several high-level conferences, a cautious statement was issued.

Cautious Verdict

It said the radar was not calibrated for testing high-speed land runs and in the opinion of the Air Force its findings would not be sanctioned by international bodies which recognise speed records.

Still the Air Force said its data showed that at one point Barrett was above Mach One - the speed of sound - for an average speed of 739.666 mph.**

The technology of the Budweiser rocket will not do much for commuters driving their cars to work.

It is driven by a combination of solid and liquid fuels in addition to the missile.

Liquid hydrogen peroxide goes through a catalyst and decomposes creating superheated steam and oxygen at a temperature of 1,370 degrees. That in turn erodes a solid fuel called polybutadiene which automatically ignites as soon as it is gaseous.

The fuel was the equivalent of 650 gallons of petrol, giving Barrett a fuel consumption of roughly 17 yards to the gallon.

The three wheels of the vehicle were of forged aluminium because at 9,300 rpm rubber tyres would have dis-integrated.

Most of the $1 million required for the car was put up by the makers of Budweiser, the largest - selling beer in the world.

* if this article has any truth in the details then Barrett would have needed 96,000 horsepower plus based on the 48,000 hp he had available to go over 631 mph plus without the side winder.

** hard to grasp how at 'one' point an 'average' speed of 739.666 was achieved, surely either at 'one' point a 'top' speed of 739.666 was achieved or more accurately between 'two' points an average speed of 739.666 mph was achieved.

As ever more questions than answers from the most contemporary of reports :-)

#33 Pullman99

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:04

As ever more questions than answers from the most contemporary of reports :-)


Yes indeed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, USAC remained unconvinced about the whole thing. Would still be nice to see one - or all three - out in public sometime!


#34 arttidesco

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 08:43

Maybe they could fit a second sidewinder to the Budweiser Rocket and give it another go, I for one would jump at the opportunity to press the button despite having done nothing more dangerous than race a 2CV :-)

#35 taylov

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 09:07

Sorry about, but the Flying Caduceus was not the first jet car built to go for the LSR record - the first one was the Russian GAZ-TR in 1954 using a Klimow WK-1A jet engine from a MIG-17 jet fighter...


..and, of course, someone had put a jet in a boat some 7 or so years earlier

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#36 arttidesco

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 10:59

Awesome card :-)

#37 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 13:48

Awesome card :-)

...But an evil handling boat by all accounts.

There is some Movietone footage of it skittering around quite alarmingly with little directional stability. I am probably wrong but I think Bluebird K4 in this form may have been the first non-aircraft application of a jet engine ? Campbell must have called in some serious favors to get his hands on the engine so soon after the end of hostilities. It was re-converted back to it's pre-war R-Type propeller-driven format after the old man's death but techology had overtaken it by that point. What might it have achieved if the jet (Goblin?) had been left in place and the whole thing developed more fully?



#38 f1steveuk

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 14:06

...But an evil handling boat by all accounts.

There is some Movietone footage of it skittering around quite alarmingly with little directional stability. I am probably wrong but I think Bluebird K4 in this form may have been the first non-aircraft application of a jet engine ? Campbell must have called in some serious favors to get his hands on the engine so soon after the end of hostilities. It was re-converted back to it's pre-war R-Type propeller-driven format after the old man's death but techology had overtaken it by that point. What might it have achieved if the jet (Goblin?) had been left in place and the whole thing developed more fully?



Not a lot! It was as you say Simon, an evil handling thing. I'm currently going through a load of data from Peter DuCane and Reid Railton as I'm working on a project regarding Crusader, and K4 was beyond her capabilities, and her CofG was ruined. The soulution had been found, but it meant a huge underwater fin that would have slowed her down. By the time the Goblin had been installed, Malcolm (who can be seen in the picture to the right as you look, staring at the hull) was suffering glucoma in both eyes and the team used huge white sheets at each end of Coniston for him to aim at. he also had kidney and liver problems and was getting a "hell of a beating" in the cockpit. In truth, he'd lost interest, he was over sixty!

#39 arttidesco

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 16:46

Simply swapping piston power for jet power does not sound like the wisest way of going about tackling WSR attempts I guess everything useful in terms funds and materials would have been in rationed supply in 1947.

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#40 Pullman99

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:50

Noted at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu last Friday that their LSR model display (behind Bluebird CN7) features a selection of the "might have beens" including the Budweiser Rocket. Their caption still credits this car as being the first, in 1979, to break the sound barrier. Nearby is a model of Thrust SSC which they credit - correctly - as being the actual first to do so. Confusing? Probably not noticed by most visitors.

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#41 arttidesco

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 23:51

I am open minded about weather or not Budweiser was the first to break the sound barrier it has never claimed to have set a world record in doing so it did not set out to break the LSR on the day it allegedly did break the sound barrier the team knew their target was to break the sound barrier not the LSR I'd like to think that is what they did, then Thrust is still the first car to take the LSR over the speed of sound.

#42 Pullman99

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 19:21

I am open minded about weather or not Budweiser was the first to break the sound barrier it has never claimed to have set a world record in doing so it did not set out to break the LSR on the day it allegedly did break the sound barrier the team knew their target was to break the sound barrier not the LSR


At the risk of continuing this debate further, I would refer you to my post 14 and also to post 26 by "Pork Pie" in which he refers to the somewhat shabby and deliberate falsifying by Hal Needham of the content of a letter, written by Chuck Yeager, in order to bolster Needham's claims. I totally agree that the Budweiser Rocket never set out to create a new LSR as it was simply not eligible (although it would have set a motorcycle record, surely, if they had taken the appropriate steps). As a seriously funded and organised effort they had their stated target of breaking the sound barrier.

I repeat that there is absolutely no recorded evidence - due not only to not having appropriate timing equipment in place but also due to their reliance on a radar system - to confirm the maximum speed achieved. The car was undoubtedly very fast and with a twin front wheel arrangement in place of the single front wheel actually fitted, they could potentially have eclipsed the record set by The Blue Flame in 1970. As I stated earlier, USAC were of the view that the maximum speed reached may not have been much above 600 mph. Hal Needham, for whichever reason, has consistently re-stated that the car did exceed the speed of sound and this continues to be promoted every time someone comments on the You-Tube video that includes footage of the various runs and several interviews both at the time, in 1979, and more recently. It's a great looking car - and so spectacular to see running - but it's sad that Stan Barrett's and the team's contribution to record breaking history will remain as a "might have been".

Until Mr Needham confrms what actually happened, this subject will remain controversial at best. The achievements in 1983 and 1997 by the Thrust teams were unduly underplayed by certain elements in the media due to the continued acknowledgement gven by such as The Guinness Book of Records to the Budweiser episode.

There is some further independent analysis of the attempt here:

Budweiser Rocket Car analysis by Don Burnea, Roadsters.com

Edited by Pullman99, 19 May 2011 - 11:20.


#43 arttidesco

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 20:53

BUT I have certainly seen a picture of Budweiser running with a very distinctive diamond pattern to the exhaust gasses which I remember, in which ever magazine it was (Autosport late 1978 maybe ?), that, it was claimed at the time, were supposed to be a sign that Budweiser was running at super sonic speed.

If any one has the last four copies of Autosport December 1978 perhaps they can confirm the picture and the interpretation of the picture.

Meantime I'll see if I can find a copy of the picture of the exhaust evidence on the net :-)



#44 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 21:37

The 'diamond' patterns in the exhaust of a rocket or gas turbine engine only indicate that the exhaust gases have passed through the engine nozzle at sonic or supersonic velocity. This doesn't mean that the vehicle to which the engine is fitted is travelling faster than sound - the 'diamonds' are often seen during static engine testing on a test bed.

#45 arttidesco

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 22:55

The 'diamond' patterns in the exhaust of a rocket or gas turbine engine only indicate that the exhaust gases have passed through the engine nozzle at sonic or supersonic velocity. This doesn't mean that the vehicle to which the engine is fitted is travelling faster than sound - the 'diamonds' are often seen during static engine testing on a test bed.


And thus ends my belief that there is any evidence that Budweiser went supersonic :-)

Thanks Tim :-)

Case closed so far as I can see :-)