At the Speed of Sound
This week is about speed. You’re going to see a lot of things go by quickly so keep your eyes peeled…
After throwing some numbers at you about the speeds of various things from snails to high speed trains, we get on to the subject of setting land speed records. That’s where seemingly crazy people devise “cars” that look a heck of a lot like airplanes without wings, to see if they can break the speed of sound. They race through the desert on these death machines and this week we follow them out there to see what it’s about.
It all happens in the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach Nevada (If you’ve seen the town of Big Tuna in David Lynch’s “Wild At Heart” you have an idea what Gerlach is like. To say Gerlach has character would be a monumental understatement, and yes, the woman working the bar in town does wear an eye patch (I’m not making this up, only reality can be this bizarre).
But Gerlach is not quite remote enough for land speed record setting. The fun happens out in the dusty desert. This desert is beautiful and bleak to behold, with a singularly planar dusty flat that extends in every direction.
Out in that surreal plain some speed-obsessed techies try out their mega-hotrod: The North American Eagle. The “car” is a superannuated F104 Star Fighter (once flown by Chuck Yeager I might add) with the wings
lopped off and some very high tech solid aluminum wheels attached.
We watch and wait and hope the driver/pilot doesn’t kill himself stalking his personal Moby Dick known as the land speed record. That record is currently just above Mach 1 (the speed of sound). If you love cars, mechanics, and just plain crazy one-up-manship you’re going to love these guys.
In the end the crew comes closer to making their death wish than breaking the record. The weather goes nasty and they have to put off going for the record when we are there. That doesn’t stop them from a “test drive” in a dust storm that would calm the need for speed of the most obsessive racing enthusiast. Keep your eye on the North American Eagle folks, they’re going to make the news…one way or other.
Also this week Brian Alters wins a hundred quid at the greyhound track (and that isn’t faked either) and risks his life chatting with ornery cockney gamblers, while Jenn talks about running 60 km/h on a treadmill but I don’t think quite runs that fast. Only Jenn knows the answer to that one for sure.