Edmonton

Rocket man: Sherwood Park man builds his own jet car

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand why Ryan McQueen named his race car "Insanity."

Ryan McQueen overcame middling mechanical skills to build the dragster of his dreams

The builder of this jet car estimates it can hit 650 km/h. (Ryan McQueen/Facebook )

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand why Ryan McQueen named his race car "Insanity."

Sleek in cherry red and chrome, with two Rolls Royce jet engines under the hood, she will run at 14,000 pounds of thrust, and burn through 400 litres of jet fuel in two minutes flat.

And its estimated top speed? A white-knuckle, G-force inducing 650 kilometres per hour.

Insanity may be the world's only twin-jet powered super car, McQueen said.

The project started in 2004, when McQueen first laid eyes on a jet car at an Edmonton race, and he knew instantly he had to have one his own.

"I went to my first drag race with jet cars there and basically fell in love with them and thought, 'I've got to do this,' " McQueen said in an interview on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

And McQueen wouldn't let a middling knowledge of mechanical things get in the way of building the car of its dreams.

He sold off the Corvette that was sitting in his garage to purchase a pair of jet engines he tracked down at a military surplus auction in Colorado.
Ryan McQueen of Sherwood Park started building the jet car in 2004. (Ryan McQueen/Facebook )
 

With only a few lessons from his high school drafting class to inform him, he got to work building and designing the car from scratch.

"I didn't have a whole lot of money or a lot of skill. I just learned as I went," McQueen said.

"I didn't know how to weld, engineer, bend tubing, lay up fibreglass or carbon fibre, or even know anything about jet engines."

It took five years to build the mould for the body. Another two years to construct the steel frame.  McQueen spent $90,000 in total on supplies and equipment. 

"Since then everything has been YouTube and Google," McQueen said.

"I taught myself to weld. I taught myself metal fabrication. In fact, one of my first projects was my tubing bender to be able to bend the tubing. I needed a tool so I built it."

After 12 years of tinkering in his Sherwood Park garage, Insanity is almost complete.

And the 3,800-lb. jet car is already beginning to gain traction, as McQueen has several air show bookings on his calendar, as well as drag races.

But is it track worthy? Almost, he says.

Until the jet car passes safety inspection, McQueen is only allowed to show off his new ride by driving it around on the back of a transport truck. 

He hasn't even hit the ignition.  

But if all goes smoothly during an inspection this fall, McQueen hopes to be revving his engines, and wowing crowds at top speed by next summer. 

"I'm super excited," he said.

"I can't even describe the excitement. It's taken 12 years to build, and then to jump in it and take it down the track, it's going to be incredible."

Ryan McQueen hopes to have his new ride on the racetrack by next summer. (Ryan McQueen/Facebook )