James Whomsley (UK), known for his “backyard aerospace engineering” YouTube channel ProjectAir, has set a record for the fastest speed achieved by a remote controlled (RC) jet powered car.
James’s car reached the blistering speed of 152.50 km/h (94.76 mph), and were it not for an unfortunate crash, his car could potentially have set a record over double that speed.
James said in a video on his channel that this was the “most stressful, draining, and heartbreaking project” he’s ever done.
There was no previous record holder, however, James’s car was required to register a minimum speed of 150 km/h (93.2 mph) to be awarded the Guinness World Records title.
James spent three months prior to the record attempt constructing, testing, and perfecting his car.
He’d been working on the project for over a year, building the first iteration of the car in 2022. Although this car wasn’t able to set the record, James learnt a lot about how to build a bigger, more powerful version.
His record-setting car was powered by a JetCat 220 engine, fixed to a strong aluminium chassis with a 3D-printed nose and “lots of electronic gizmos to make it all work.”
James first tested it at a local racetrack, where it performed “brilliantly”, reaching a speed of 70 mph, but James knew that the car could go much faster.
He said it had only been using a fraction of the available power and he didn’t make it go full throttle.
James knew that if he had a longer, wider surface to drive it on, the car could attain a record-setting speed.
Thus, he attended the ROSSA speed event at Llanbedr Airport runway, where radio-controlled car enthusiasts gathered to drive their model vehicles as fast as possible.
James didn’t have time to develop bespoke tyres for the car, so he used standard foam tyres, hoping that they’d “survive the insane speeds” that the car would reach at full throttle.
One of the challenges that James faced was the weather. Despite it being the beginning of July, there were lengthy spells of rain and wind, which would ultimately spell disaster for his car.
Fortunately, James’s first record attempt – which was delayed by rain – was successful, as he achieved a top speed of 152.5 km/h (94.76 mph) while completing the required 100-metre distance without any problems.
However, James knew there was room for improvement. He said he’d “hardly touched the throttle” and only gave it “about 70%” for just a few seconds.
He knew it could go faster, but how much faster?
Unfortunately, James’s next two attempts at bettering the record didn’t go to plan.
On the second run, he achieved a speed of 220.7 km/h (137 mph), however, as the nose of the car fell off, this run was not eligible for the record.
To officially achieve the record, the entire car must remain intact. After reviewing the footage, James realized that he’d forgotten to bolt the nose onto the body of the car.
The next day, James attempted a third run. Despite waiting until the afternoon for more favourable weather, there was an even stronger crosswind than the day before, which would ultimately be the downfall of James’s car.
During the third run, as the car zoomed ahead at unprecedented speeds, the wind swept it across the runway, destroying it.
“This was truly the most heartbreaking crash I’d ever experienced,” James said.
With the car travelling at a speed of 226.9 km/h (141 mph), a strong wind had pushed it to the side of the track, where it hit a recessed drain cover and was launched into the air. Upon landing, the car exploded, and the engine was damaged irreparably.
Although the car was destroyed, it had still set a world record with the first run, thus James successfully achieved what he set out to do.
James is now looking forward to his next project, which may again involve breaking a record. He could perhaps have a go at building the world’s fastest battery-powered remote-controlled car, a record that currently belongs to Nic Case (USA), who built the “Radio Controlled Bullet”, which achieved a speed of 325.12 km/h (202.02 mph) at the Rossa World Championships in 2014.
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