JCB sets new diesel land speed record | CAR Magazine

JCB sets new diesel land speed record

Published: 22 August 2006 Updated: 26 January 2015

The JCB Dieselmax has broken the diesel land speed record, posting an official, FIA-approved speed of 328.767mph.

During the first run along the Bonneville Salt Flats course on 22 August, the 1500bhp Dieselmax touched 324.24mph.The pit crew then turned the streamliner around on a turntable and prepped it for the second run. On the return, JCB’s diesel-powered racer hit 333.339mph. The average time of the two runs was 328.767mph – making it the world’s fastest diesel by 93mph. The following day, the team returned and hit 350mph.

To post an official time, the Dieselmax had to complete two sweeps of the 12-mile long course within 60 minutes. There was a brief scare that the second run had not been completed within the hour-long window. A message was relayed to the pits that the two runs had taken 63 minutes, but this proved to be a false alarm. In fact, the two runs took around 49 minutes. The success means that RAF wing commander Andy Green, the Dieselmax’s pilot, now holds two land speed records. In 1997, he piloted ThrustSSC to the supersonic speed of 763mph. Now he has the diesel crown, too.

The Dieselmax has twin diesel engines, commonly used in JCB’s heavy machinery. For streamliner duty, the two powerplants were fettled to produce a whopping 750bhp each. The drama began around 8.30am Utah time, or 1.30pm in the UK. The Dieselmax’s warm up run was curtailed after just two miles by electrical failure. A carbonfibre panel had chafed through a cockpit wire, although this problem was quickly fixed by the team. With temperatures soaring to 100 degF on the Utah salt flats, the first run commenced at around 9.45am local time. Around 50 minutes later, the world record was in the bag.

However, the JCB team was not satisfied. They returned the following day and posted an average speed of 350mph: 365.779mph on one run, 335.695mph on the return. ‘It was a great result for a wonderful team and a testament to British engineering,’ said pilot Green. The team was extremely confident that the diesel record – set at 235.756mph in 1973 by the Thermo King Streamliner – would be beaten. Last Friday, the Dieselmax hit 325mph, having posted a 317mph speed the previous day. You can watch this course record-breaking run here.

By Greg Fountain

CAR's former managing editor, editor, caption chiseller, noticer of ironies