Turbinator II smashes 500 mph barrier at Bonneville

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,036   +150
Staff member
What just happened? There's fast, then there's record-setting, scary fast. The Turbinator II, a turbine-powered car from Team Vesco, certainly falls into the latter category. The team recently achieved its goal of 500 mph and now believes 600 mph is plausible.

In the automotive world, the word “fast” is relative. What’s deemed fast to one person based on personal experience may feel slow to someone else simply because they’ve been much faster.

In the case of the Turbinator II, however, I think we can all agree that the term “fast” is an accurate description.

During a run at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah earlier this month, Team Vesco hit a blistering top speed of 503.332 mph in its turbine-powered racer. Unlike other land-speed record cars, the Turbinator II sends its power directly to the vehicle’s wheels, making it the world’s fastest wheel-driven vehicle.

Speaking of power, the vehicle is driven by a Lycoming T55 turbine engine out of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. According to Digital Trends, it produces 5,000 horsepower.

Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to set a new world record as land-speed records require the average of two runs and weather conditions prevented the crew from making a second pass.

Turbinator co-driver and crew chief Eric Ritter told Autoweek that the course was the best they’d seen in more than a decade. “The thin surface was rock hard, without soft or loose spots that allowed us to lay in more power. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and I now believe 600 mph is plausible.”

Lead image courtesy Hot Rod

Permalink to story.



Posts: 2,404   +948
I road my motorcycle at the salt flats in 2005. Cleanup was a *****. Back in the 60's I followed the land speed record stuff avidly.


Posts: 1,507   +753
I wouldn't wanna own this car because I am not very good at planning, planning my driving route to be able to get gas each time I d stop.

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,659   +7,561
Still waiting to see if they get enough funding for that 1,000 MPH effort that's on going ......


Still waiting to see if they get enough funding for that 1,000 MPH effort that's on going ......
is that the Bloodhound Thrust SSC? I'm not up on these vehicles anymore, but the Thrust SSC did go 763.035 mph (faster than the speed of sound) through the mile long speed trap (they go both directions) on 15 Oct 2017
note: the difference between the above and the Turbinator II is that the T II is wheel driven
edit: after some reading, the Thrust SSC above is the record setting vehicle. It is now on display and superseded by the Bloodhound SSC. Sorry for any confusion
Last edited by a moderator:


Craig Breedlove (born March 23, 1937) is an American professional race car driver and a five-time world land speed record holder. He was the first person in history to reach 500 mph (800 km/h), and 600 mph (970 km/h), using several turbojet-powered vehicles, all named Spirit of America.


Breedlove upped the record to 468.72 mph (754.33 km/h) "[w]ith almost insolent ease",[1] then to 526.28 mph (846.97 km/h).[1] making him the first man to exceed 500 mph (800 km/h).[1] This pass was not without incident, however, for one of his drogue parachute's shroud lines parted, and Spirit of America ran on for 5 mi (8.0 km) before hitting a telegraph pole and coming to rest in a lake.[1] This record stood all of twelve days before Green Monster broke it, recording a two-run average of 536.71 mph (863.75 km/h).[1]

In response, Breedlove built an FIA-legal four-wheeler, Sonic I, powered by a 15,000 lbf (67 kN) J79 turbojet.[1][2] November 2, 1965, Breedlove entered the FIA record book with a two-run average of 555.483 mph (893.963 km/h).[1] This lasted even less time than before, for Green Monster came back five days later at 576.553 mph (927.872 km/h).[1] On November 15, Breedlove responded with a 600.601 mph (966.574 km/h) record (after turning in an amazing 608.201 mph (978.805 km/h) return pass),[1] which held until 1970.[1] (It would be broken by Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame, which reached 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h).

The Blue Flame is a rocket-powered vehicle that was driven by Gary Gabelich and achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 23, 1970. The vehicle set the FIA world record for the flying mile at 622.407 mph (1,001.667 km/h) and the flying kilometer at 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h).[1]