Go to the
There are not many wheel-driven vehicles that have been clocked at over 400 MPH over the measured mile since 1965, when the Summers brothers set their record.
In fact, there are only four.
Three of these are piston-engined (the current holder of the wheel-driven LSR, Don and Rick Vesco's Turbinator, is turbine-engined).
Each one of the three has a special distinction: Nolan and Rick White's Spirit of Autopower was the first to break the magic barrier after 25 years, with a one-way run at 401+ mph in 1990; Al Teague's Spirit of 76 became the wheel-driven LSR holder in 1991 at 409+ mph (425+ one-way), and still holds the fastest record for a piston-engined car; the Burkland, the last to join this exclusive "club", did the fastest ever one-way run for a piston-engined car at 438.815 mph in 2000.
Having run for the first time in 1996, the Burkland family streamliner is by far the youngest of the trio (the two other cars are both over 20 years old), and has completed a pretty small number of miles altogether. This means that its developement is still in a relatively early stage and its full potential has not been explored yet: if we should expect something new to happen to the record over the next few years, this is certainly the car to watch!
In 2001 they could not run at Speed Week, but Tom set Top Speed of the Meet again at World of Speed (421.844 mph in the mile). At the end of this run, though, as Tom was pulling off the race course, the upper edge of a partially-submerged oil drum hit the car's tail brake, tore it loose and caused the car to turn sideways and roll over and over a dozen times, finally coming to rest on its side and headed back towards the starting line.
Tom's only injuries were a broken right arm and two very bloodshot eyes. The driver's compartment was undamaged while the chassis broke in three of the four places it was designed to break, but the body was basically destroyed.
It took three years of hard work to Gene, Betty and Tom Burkland to rebuild the streamliner after the crash, making just minor changes, mainly in the cockpit area to improve stuctural strength and safety, after the frightening experience in 2001.
The car reappeared at the USFRA World of Speed in September 2004, looking pretty much the same as before, except for a less stylized eagle on the sides, the air outlets now painted in the body color and a few other subtle detail changes.
Unfortynately by the time they were ready to run the weather got too windy and the next day the meeting was ended by rain.
At the SCTA World Finals in October things went quite differently! After aborting a run on the 14th, Tom made just a parachute test run the next day. Then on October 16 started for what was supposed to be just the first proper full test run but... the speed in the third mile (418+ mph) was fast enough to qualify for Nolan White's record! Three hours later Tom made a troubleless return run at 416+ and set the new SCTA AA/BFS record at 417.020.
This record came in such an easy and even casual way that it makes it hard to believe that, although not an International FIA record, nevertheless this is the fastest record ever set by a piston-engined vehicle to date.
Given the right salt and weather conditions, Tom Burkland and the Burkland family streamliner have the potential to be a serious contender for the FIA Wheel-Driven Land Speed Record, currently held by Don Vesco's Turbinator.
2005 was not an exciting year for land speed racing: the Burklands had decided that the salt was not good enough to run at Speed Week and it was a wise decision as it only lasted four days before it was rained out; then both World of Speed and the World Finals were cancelled...
Speed Week 2006 saw the return of the Burkland streamliner on the salt. And quite a sensational return it was: Tom made a single pass, just to test if everything was working fine after two years of immobility and... took the Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed of the Meet Trophy with 398.807 mph on the mile and a terminal speed of almost 411 mph. Salt conditions were good but not ideal and the Burklands had already booked the salt, together with the Nishes and Ron Main for private attempts at FIA records in late September, so they decided this single run had told them what they needed to know and whatched the other cars race for the rest of the week.
The September private meet opened with great expectations, the salt was hard and mostly dry, and the three cars looked up to their respective goals: Main's EcoFire was after 2 and 3 liter class records, Nish aimed at the Goldenrod unblown unlimited record and Tom Burkland chased Al Teague's blown unlimited record.
Alas, they all had mechanical trouble, and only the EcoFire eventually managed to secure the 3 liter class records. Tom made a most promising pass at 407+ mph on the kilo and 404+ on the mile but burned a piston and damaged another one in the process. The team rushed to change the damaged parts (pistons had to be shipped to them quickly!) and Tom attempted a new run two days later, but this time the front trasmission broke and was damaged beyond any on site repair. As Betty Burkland said to Jon Amo while working to fix the problems, the Bonneville Witch had been out on the salt!
Salt conditions in 2007 did not allow the car to run, but 2008 would be quite different!
Speed Week was planned just for checkout, and eventually the car only made one shakedown run, in view of the serious attempt to be made in September at the Top 1 World Land Speed Shootout, an invitational meet organized by Mike Cook. As it turned out, Tom Burkland made LSR history, taking the FIA International mile record from Al Teague, who had held it for seventeen long years, since 1991.
True, the speed, 415+ mph, was not fast enough to break the kilo record, but the relative ease with which the record was broken, and the speed on the mile in the return run (427.723 mph) makes everyone comfortable that the kilo record will follow soon, and eventually, given the right salt conditions, the outright wheel-driven record might be within reach at long last.
Just wait for 2009!
|venue||year||sanctioning body||class||distance||speed (mph)||standing|
|Bonneville World Finals||2004||SCTA/BNI||AA/BFS||fl. mile||417.020||YES *|
|Bonneville TOP 1 World Land Speed Shootout||2008, Sep 26||FIA||A, I, 11||fl. mile||415.896||YES *|
Click here for a chronology of the Burkland streamliner with details of every run to date (2008)
Go to the
Back to land speed record topics index.
Home | About Ugo Fadini | Current models | How to order | Discontinued models | Models to come | Articles & Stories | Links
© Ugo Fadini 2000/2009 - page last updated 27 December 2008